The soy checkoff, American Soybean Association (ASA) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) have been showing the global soy industry what it means to work together for the greater good. These farmer-led organizations have represented U.S. soybean farmers on the International Soy Growers Alliance (ISGA) since its formation in 2005. Since then, ISGA has brought together farmers from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to work together on global issues impacting all soybean farmers, such as biotechnology acceptance.
“It’s important for us to come together and discuss issues we all have in common: trade relations, biotechnology, weather, to name a few,” says Jim Stillman, soybean farmer and United Soybean Board (USB) chairman from Emmetsburg, Iowa. “When we are able to provide a united front on these issues that impact the global soybean industry, it makes a much stronger impression.”
At this most recent meeting in Asuncion, Paraguay, ISGA members approved a resolution that addresses several issues that are of importance to the soy industry in all member countries. Most importantly, the resolution calls for a science-based and predictable approval system for soybeans improved through biotechnology. Currently, these approvals in several countries tend to take long or not happen at all, holding up or blocking U.S. soybean sales or delay farmers’ ability to plant new biotech varieties.
And when farmers representing 90 percent of the world’s soybean production come together to on an issue, people – especially soybean buyers – listen. This is why ISGA has begun planning to bring together farmers from both continents to meet with common customers, decision makers and government officials. During these talks, ISGA members will discuss the importance of swift and science-based approvals to prevent trade disruptions. In 2012, ISGA held a similar mission to the European Union, where U.S. and South American farmers met with officials from several countries to discuss the importance of biotechnology approvals and acceptance.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of ISGA is the opportunity to come together with farmers and representatives of other soy growing and exporting countries to address the challenges we face as a global soy industry,” adds Danny Murphy, soybean farmer and ASA president from Canton, Miss. “As representatives of the U.S. soy industry together with USB and USSEC, we find that we’ve so many mutual goals with our ISGA partners, especially on issues like biotechnology approvals, in which barriers set up by one nation or coalition can have a significantly negative impact on all exporters.”