The American Soybean Association (ASA) is asking soybean producers to lobby their representative and senators to urge immediate action from the White House and the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that is delaying implementation of a soy food assistance program that will help the most needy countries in the world with much needed food aid while helping to improve prices paid to farmers for their soybeans.

"Although U.S. farmers harvested a bountiful soybean crop at near record production levels this year, millions of people around the world will go hungry, because the soy food aid program is tied up in Washington bureaucracy," said ASA first Vice President Tony Anderson, a Mount Sterling, OH soybean producer. "As we approach the holiday season, it is most unfortunate that OMB is delaying a program that U.S. Department of Agriculture has recommended."

ASA leaders met with Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, in Washington, DC, March 16, to present an innovative proposal utilizing Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds for a food assistance program that could help alleviate a disastrous decline in prices and soybean producer income. Since that time, the ASA has continued to develop the program by identifying opportunities to make the plan workable for USDA. ASA believes that Secretary Glickman has discretionary authority to utilize CCC funds for the program and views OMB's delay as unnecessary.

Soybean farmers are not the only group frustrated by the process of interagency budgeting. Humanitarian assistance groups also are calling for rapid OMB approval of the soy program. These private voluntary organizations (PVOs) have developed proposals on how they could effectively use U.S. soybeans and soy products in their feeding programs, in developing countries.

Executive Director of the Coalition for Food Aid Ellen Levinson said, "The way that the private voluntary organizations look at this initiative is a very positive way to marry the expertise of the American Soybean Association and its affiliates with the capabilities that PVOs have in a hundred-plus countries around the world that are food-deficit."

The PVOs represented by the Coalition for Food Aid include some religious groups, such as Catholic Relief Services, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and World Vision, and other charitable and developmental organizations, such as CARE, Save the Children and Afri-Care.

ASA developed the initiative in cooperation with the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) to identify markets where the various products could be used without displacing U.S. commercial sales. Details of the proposed food aid allocations are available for viewing in the Farm Income and Market Initiatives area of ASA's website, at www.amsoy.org/policy99/.

ASA and NOPA believe the domestic and international benefits of this assistance will:

--Provide the United States with a unique opportunity to assist the most needy countries in the world with much needed food aid.

--Maintain and reconstruct markets for soybeans and soy products that were diminished or lost as a result of the recent global financial crisis.

--Help develop new long-term markets for soybeans and soy products, including newly developed soy protein isolates and concentrates.

--Ensure political and economic stability for many of the recipient countries.

--Support U.S. employment and economic activity through the processing, handling and transportation of the soy products included in the package.

--Support consumption of soybeans, soybean meal and soy oil, in order to assist farmers.

"The time has come for producers to speak out in support of this initiative," Anderson said. "Farmers need to pick-up the phone and call their elected officials and ask them to persuade OMB to place a high priority on getting the budget for the soy food aid approved, so USDA can implement the program."

Farmers can contact the local offices of their representatives and senators or contact their Washington offices by calling the Capitol Operator, at 202-224-3121. Producers also can contact their elected officials through electronic messaging. More information is available at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

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