Agriculture briefs – Feb. 11

Staff report

U.S. SOY EXPORTS HIT TWO MILLION METRIC TONS – The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) has announced that soy exports certified through the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) have hit a record two million metric tons in the 2015/16 marketing year.

USSEC Chair Laura Foell, an Iowa farmer, stated, “This is an exciting milestone for the U.S. Soy industry. It’s important to our end users to know where their soybeans are coming from and that they were raised in a healthy, sustainable manner. We’re very happy that the SSAP allows us to show them that.”

The SSAP was developed by USSEC in conjunction with other members of the U.S. Soy family including the American Soybean Association (ASA), United Soybean Board (USB), and Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs), along with industry partners North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) and National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA). This multi-year process involved numerous revisions as input and suggestions were received from U.S. Soy customers and other stakeholders around the world.

The SSAP allows U.S. exporters to efficiently and cost-effectively communicate the sustainability of U.S. Soy and provide assurance to buyers worldwide with a simple certification tool. Soy Export Sustainability, LLC, provides certificates to exporters based on an aggregate system representing nationwide soybean production.

USDA EXPANDS FSA MICROLOANS – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.

“Many producers, especially new and underserved farmers, tell us that access to land is one of the biggest challenges they face in establishing and growing their own farming operation,” said Harden. “USDA is making it easier for new farmers to hit the ground running and get access to the land that they need to establish their farms or improve their property.”

The microloan program, which celebrates its third anniversary this week, has been hugely successful, providing more than 16,800 low-interest loans, totaling over $373 million to producers across the country. Microloans have helped farmers and ranchers with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses since 2013. Seventy percent of loans have gone to new farmers.

Now, microloans will be available to also help with farm land and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements. FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations. Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Staff report