CHARLOTTE, N.C. – USDA must use sound science when considering beef imports from Canada to “send a strong signal to the public and set a positive example for our trading partners,” according to American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.

Speaking during a news conference to open the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 86th annual meeting in Charlotte, also said Congress should conduct oversight investigations on Canadian imports.

“It is vital to get this right,” he said. “We must rely on our government to ensure use of and compliance with sound science.”

According to Stallman, 2004 was a very good year financially for many growers, but producers should not expect the higher dollar receipts to continue in 2005. “The high prices are unlikely to hold. Early prospects for 2005 suggest that overall receipts could slip $10-$15 billion. But, forecasts for 2005 are still good compared to past years.”

Speaking about Trade Promotion Authority, Stallman said AFBF will actively work with Congress to extend the provision through June 2007. “TPA is vital for negotiating meaningful trade reforms,” said Stallman. “We need TPA so other nations take the United States seriously when negotiating trade deals.”

Stallman also mentioned soybean rust. “We currently are working with USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure we have all of the proper procedures in place and enough product to protect our soybean crop as we head into this year’s growing season.

“Soybean rust is here, and we are prepared to deal with it.”

On a positive note, Stallman spoke about AFBF’s support for agriculture secretary-designate Mike Johanns during the confirmation process that is currently under way. “Johanns recognizes the importance of opening up new export markets for U.S. agriculture products, and he knows the importance of furthering the use of ethanol as a renewable fuel,” said Stallman.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com