From soybean production areas across the country, soybean farmers assembled in Charlotte, North Carolina, to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA). The meeting was held in conjunction with the eighth annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show. Board members, voting delegates, and other ASA members participated in this annual process that will guide the ASA for the next year as it pursues initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability.Among the noteworthy changes and additions were refinements to advance the use of biodiesel and to accentuate the importance of a viable domestic livestock industry, including competitive transportation for the delivery of feedstocks to supply deficit areas. Delegates approved specific negotiating objectives for the Doha WTO Round, and expressed support for food aid programs with an emphasis on the role of soy in confronting HIV/AIDS. Delegates asserted their support for biotechnology, but urged remedies to protect U.S. farmers from illegally planted biotech seedstock by farmers in foreign countries.BiodieselASA supports the development of state and federal legislation that promotes biodiesel and biodiesel blends, and strongly urges that all diesel fuel used in the United States be a biodiesel fuel or a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel fuel that is produced primarily from soybean oil.To increase utilization of biodiesel, ASA is calling for biodiesel tax incentives, a national energy policy that promotes renewable domestic resources, minimum renewable fuel content requirements that include biodiesel blends, and programs that promote biodiesel blends of 2 percent or higher. ASA is calling for energy security measures that reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil sources, increase use of biodiesel as a fuel additive to improve the lubricity of low sulfur diesel fuel for on and off road applications including railroads.ASA encourages fuel stations across the nation to start carrying biodiesel at the pumps, and encourages all fuel suppliers to handle biodiesel to enhance our nation’s energy security, improve our air quality and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.ASA will also urge elimination of the 50 percent cap on biodiesel usage for compliance in the federal Energy Policy Act (EPACT), and supports banking and trading of biodiesel credits in the EPACT program.Domestic Livestock IndustryASA Voting Delegates expressed strong support for the U.S. domestic livestock industry as a value-added soybean market. Swine and poultry feed accounts for 75 percent of all domestic U.S. soybean meal consumption, which represents about 37 percent of total U.S. soybean production.As swine and poultry producers face a variety of challenges to their industry, soybean producers must appreciate how important these customers are to their own profitability. ASA encourages states to use sound science where an environmental review process is used to evaluate livestock facilities, and that petitioners reside within a reasonable proximity of any questioned site.Also, the federal government should immediately and actively encourage segments of rail, grain, and agriculture to improve the infrastructure in transporting agriculture commodities to supply deficit areas of the United States, particularly to the Southeastern states. ASA supports legislative efforts to promote increased competition in the rail industry to foster better service and lower rates, including amendment of the Jones Act so as to allow the shipment of U.S. agricultural commodities on the lowest cost vessels from one U.S. port to another. ASA supports an exemption from the Jones Act for the shipment of bulk agricultural commodities.Doha Round WTO ObjectivesASA urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Trade Representative and any other relevant agency to be aggressive in investigations, and pursuing where necessary complaints against countries whose tariff structure and/or non-tariff barriers may violate said countries WTO (World Trade Organization) obligations.ASA supports substantial improvements in market access for soybeans and soybean products, including livestock products, as the top priority of the Doha Development Round negotiating under the WTO.ASA believes that the extent to which a new WTO agreement reduces trade-distorting domestic support, it must reflect the extent to which market access is increased in developing and developed countries through reductions in tariffs and other measures. ASA strongly supports maintaining the exemption for minimal and non-product specific support from reductions required in trade-distorting domestic programs.ASA strongly opposes any reduction commitments or caps on domestic support policies that do not, or only minimally, distort production or trade. Additionally, ASA strongly opposes exempting government supported domestic transportation and marketing subsidy programs in developing countries from disciplines under the WTO.ASA also strongly opposes including in the WTO agreement the precautionary principle or other non-trade concerns that are not based on sound science that could be used as a justification for restricting market access.Food Aid and the Role of Soy in Confronting AIDSASA voting delegates expressed strong support for U.S. food aid programs and urged greater emphasis on the role proper nutrition and protein play in combating HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). An estimated 36.1 million people worldwide have HIV/AIDS. Some African countries have infection rates of 25 to 35 percent of their populations.According to HIV-specialist dietician, HIV/AIDS-infected people may need 50 to 100 percent more protein than uninfected people. Soy is ideally suited to help meet their requirements for protein, calories and more.ASA strongly supports U.S. government agencies’ efforts to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in developing countries and suggests that policy makers and implementers recognize the role nutrition can play in mitigating the effects of HIV/AIDS on populations in developing countries. ASA calls on the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase its nutritional emphasis in dealing with the AIDS pandemic.Biotechnology & Piracy of Intellectual PropertiesASA strongly supports biotechnology and believes the development of biotechnology-enhanced crop varieties and products will benefit farmers, consumers and the environment. Biotechnology is a key tool that will help farmers meet growing world food, health and energy needs.ASA supports global commercialization and production of biotech soybean varieties provided that U.S. producers are not disadvantaged by business practices compared to foreign competitors. ASA urges that all legal remedies both in the U.S. and through the appropriate international legal structures be pursued to protect the U.S. farmer from the illegal planting in foreign countries of seed containing patented or licensed biotech traits.