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Sugarbeet Growers Magazine March 2014 : Page 4

ASGA Meeting Highlights On these pages we provide photos and message highlights from several of the invited speaker presentations, as well as other photos from that week. On pages 8 and 9 you’ll find an outline of 2014 ASGA priorities from Luther Markwart, while on page 10 we intro-duce you to the association’s new presi-dent, John Snyder of Wyoming. In addition to the speakers high-lighted on these pages, ASGA meeting attendees also heard, via video confer-ence, from four key congressional lead-ers: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee; Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), a member of that committee; Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), chair of the House Agriculture Committee; and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member and former chair of the House Ag Committee. All four spoke of the relief of having the new farm bill finally signed into law, and they likewise complimented sugar-beet growers for their role in keeping the sugar provisions intact. The 2015 ASGA annual meeting is scheduled for February 1-3 in Long Beach, Calif. O Scott Dahlman is executive direc-tor of Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a grassroots coalition representing agri-culture and forestry on issues of pesti-cides, fertilizer and biotechnol-ogy. “Over the past two years, we have seen a slew of anti-biotech activi-ties in Oregon,” he noted. In late 2013, the state legislature passed a bill that basically said municipalities and counties should not have the authority to regulate agricultural seed. But an ex-emption remained for Jackson County, where in May there will be a vote on whether to ban GMOs. Why is the Jackson County vote im-portant to sugarbeet growers? About 85% of the beet seed sold in the U.S. is produced in western Oregon, Dahlman pointed out, and a ban in Jackson County would add to the pressure for bans in other individual Oregon coun-ties or statewide. He asked ASGA members to support the effort to defeat the ban initiative in Jackson County. ASGA Meeting Photos:  Don Lilleboe bout 310 growers, spouses and affil-iated industry personnel gathered in Tampa, Fla., on February 9-11 for the American Sugarbeet Growers Associa-tion’s 2014 annual meeting. While the A weather outdoors provided a welcome respite for all those from northern cli-mates, the important activity took place indoors at the meeting’s general ses-sions and hallway conversation periods. protect against multi-year deep price declines. (3) It must do no harm to crop insurance – and must make improve-ments where possible. Speaking to sugar, the longtime Washington ag reporter said there were four key reasons why the sugar portion of the new farm bill survived intact. First was excellent lobbying by producers and their representatives, with the in-dustry being 100% united in its mes-sage. Second was the continual contact the industry maintains with its congressional delegations “as if there was a farm bill being written every year.” Third, staying politically engaged on a bipartisan basis. And fourth, “solid groups, both in Washington and ‘on the ground’ – grassroots.” As to key issues ahead for sugar, Wiesemeyer said the dominant short-term one is the outlook for “relatively low prices and more cost.” The biggest issue in that regard? Mexico. For the medium term, trade agreements, e.g., the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Looking to the long term, Wiesemeyer said the large amount of money being spent by the food industry for the dis-covery and development of “natural” sugar substitute products is a very im-portant matter for the sugar sector. Jim Wiesemeyer addressed “Farm Policy, Politics and a Look Ahead for Agriculture.” Informa Economics’ vice president for farm and trade policy pointed out that the final product of the long and winding road to the recently concluded Agricultural Act of 2014 is 959 pages long, has a price tag of $956 billion and covers 12 titles. Three main principles guiding both the House and Senate ag committees as they worked on the new farm bill, Wiesemeyer said, were: (1) Farm policy must work for all crops and all regions of the country. (2) It must be able to 4 THE SUGARBEET GROWER March 2014

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