The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently led a Commodity Roundtable in Washington, D.C., where representatives from 19 national agricultural groups discussed how organizations representing American crop and livestock producers can work together on potential climate change legislation and current animal welfare issues.

"The Commodity Roundtable is held periodically, and ASA thought with a new Congress and Administration, this would be a good time for organizations representing U.S. farmers and ranchers to meet to coordinate plans on how we can move forward with a common agenda," said ASA First Vice-President Rob Joslin, who chaired the discussion. "The goal is to reach a consensus among the participating groups on how to move forward and positively influence the issues that are affecting American agriculture."

The Commodity Roundtable began with welcoming comments from ASA’s Joslin as the organizer of the Roundtable, followed by highlights of current priorities by each participating organization. Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), then provided an overview of the outlook for climate change legislation, followed by presentations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Congress and others on agriculture’s role in climate change.

In the afternoon, Roundtable participants turned their attention to current animal welfare issues, including a presentation from the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition. Individual livestock organizations briefed participants on the key legislative and regulatory issues affecting their industries. Participants also talked about other issues, including biofuels and the need for farm and commodity groups to work together to promote U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ record of environmental excellence and improvement.

"ASA chose to focus this year’s Roundtable discussion on potential climate change legislation and animal welfare, two issues that are of general interest to commodity and general farm organizations and that are at the forefront of policy debates at the national and state levels," Joslin said. "With Congress actively working to develop climate change legislation, we think it is important to lay out the key principles we believe should be part of any climate change legislation. We also thought it was important to identify how our organizations can work together to address animal welfare measures at the state and national levels. The domestic livestock industry is soybean farmers’ No. 1 customer, and we want to ensure the livestock industry stays in this country as a vibrant producer of meat, milk and eggs for our citizens."

In addition to ASA and AFBF, other participants in the Commodity Roundtable included the Grain Sorghum Producers, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Sunflower Association, National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, USA Rice, U.S. Canola Association and U.S. Rice Producers Association.