The American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulates U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Zoellick, Agricultural Trade Negotiator Allen Johnson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and their negotiating team on the framework agreement for the Doha trade negotiations worked out over the past week in Geneva.

The framework provides an opportunity to achieve significant improvement in market access for soybean and livestock products, which is ASA’s most important objective in the Doha negotiations. ASA supports the stated position of the U.S. negotiating team that the extent to which trade-distorting domestic farm supports are reduced must be matched by meaningful gains in market access through tariff reduction and higher Tariff Rate Quotas on import-sensitive products. ASA believes that meeting this goal will be the key to achieving a successful outcome in the next phase of negotiations.

“This is as balanced a framework as could be expected, and we look forward to working closely with our negotiators as this process enters the next critical phase,” said ASA President Neal Bredehoeft, a soybean grower from Alma, Mo. “ASA is particularly pleased that language in the previous draft framework that could have restricted U.S. food aid donations as ‘surplus disposal’ has been deleted from this final text. That provision could have severely reduced non-emergency humanitarian food assistance programs that are vital in feeding millions of hungry people around the world.

“ASA has asked that negotiations address the need to require advanced developing countries, particularly world class exporters like Brazil, to comply with the same disciplines on domestic support and export competition that developed countries must observe,” Bredehoeft said. “We will continue to press our negotiators to address this issue as the talks move forward.”

ASA is concerned with how the product-specific spending caps to be imposed on trade-distorting programs included in the so-called Amber Box will be administered. Depending on the historical period chosen for establishing these ceilings, some commodities could be treated significantly better than others, which would skew production incentives under the farm bill.

“Global demand for high protein soybean meal and vegetable oil is rising rapidly, and U.S. soybean producers don't want the farm program to provide disincentives for increasing soybean production as we seek to maximize our share of this growing market,” Bredehoeft said.

ASA is a membership organization representing 26,000 soybean producers. It's mission is to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability.