In testimony before a joint hearing of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management and the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research, the American Soybean Association (ASA) said that much has been accomplished to prepare for soybean rust, but also expressed concern that more needs to be done to prevent significant market disruptions.

"U.S. soybean farmers have made significant contributions in preparing for soybean rust, and played a critical role in getting U.S. research off the ground," said ASA President Neal Bredehoeft, a soybean farmer from Alma, Mo. "The confirmation of rust in the United States last November gave farmers and industry the chance to focus on preparedness over the winter. I am pleased to say that we are better prepared to manage soybean rust as a result of all these efforts. Still, there is much work ahead of us."

ASA’s primary concerns are that fungicide supplies will be inadequate or improperly distributed and shortages of application equipment or custom applicators will occur.

Great strides have been made by both industry and government to insure a variety of fungicides are registered to treat soybean rust, which is critical since fungicides are the only management tool farmers have today. However, adequate fungicide availability is still questionable.

"Fungicide availability and soybean rust research are two areas of paramount concern to ASA," Bredehoeft said. "ASA is strongly encouraging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take the steps necessary to protect the future of the $18 billion U.S. soybean industry."

ASA is calling for USDA to take the leadership role in coordinating with fungicide manufacturers and distributors to determine what supplies are available and make sure they are accessible to farmers across the country. ASA strongly encourages USDA to take steps so that farmers have confidence in availability of the products they need, when they need them, at a reasonable price.

"ASA also has asked Congress for an additional $2.1 million in soybean rust research for FY2006," Bredehoeft said. "Developing rust-resistant soybean varieties is the long-term solution to economically and successfully conquering soybean rust disease."