DES ARC, Ark. – The Soybean Producers of America says it disagrees with and is disappointed with the stance of another soybean association on imports of soybean products from South America. They say such imports threaten to expose U.S. soybean fields to Asian rust, a disease which has been found in South America's soybean crop.

“The American Soybean Association says it supports the importation of soybean meal from South America into the United States,” says Harvey Joe Sanner, executive director for the SPA. “The ASA president said in a recent news release that his organization ‘regrettably’ supports the importation of soy meal by large conglomerates that own chicken and turkey flocks.

“We think that it is regrettable that a U.S. farm organization is more worried about the profit margins of a few mega corporations than they are with negative impacts on U.S. farm families. Imports pose two unnecessary risks – they can bust market prices and allow the devastating Asian Rust to reach our shores.”

The SPA’s Dan McGuire noted that USDA projects the U.S. soybean industry will have only 125 million bushels of U.S. soybeans on hand when the 2004 crop harvest begins.

“If USDA’s projections are credible, we have a safe, wholesome, disease free supply of soy products on hand in the U.S,” said McGuire, board chairman for the SPA. “ASA’s support of importing a potentially dangerous crop when we have an adequate safe crop on hand may make some corporations happy but it smells like we are ‘financing our competition,’”

McGuire said SPA proved in 2003 that claims of lower cost imports by some companies were “simply false. It’s an old trick!” He said farmers deserve leadership from their soybean associations that won’t fall for market manipulation schemes, such as importing or threatening to import commodities.

“The claim that we won’t be harmed by soy meal from abroad is just not enough to satisfy our concerns,” added McGuire. “The scientific analysis available proves that Asian Rust spores can ride on ships, truck or rail cars that deliver soy meal to processors. We feel that the risk to the U.S. soybean crop and our farm economy is simply too great to allow potential contamination to enter through imports.”

Sanner said that many of the agribusiness firms that have enjoyed great success and growth owe their success to this country and its hard working farm families.

“This nation’s business climate and our transportation infrastructure system coupled with our efficient and productive family farm system has been fertile ground for the agribusiness sector, said Sanner.

“Our nation and our farm communities deserve, at the very least, loyalty and honest dealing from the agribusiness sector. Rushing to import commodities, while it may save them pennies, is pure and simple exploitation, and I hope it is seen by our farm community and consumers as improper and unacceptable behavior.”

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