The American Soybean Association (ASA) is already gearing up for the 2012 farm bill by establishing a 2012 Farm Bill Working Group to develop policies key to the future of all U.S. soybean growers.

ASA producer-leaders recently met with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to discuss his plans to hold preliminary hearings on the 2012 farm bill in Washington beginning this month.

"In establishing the working group, I attempted to identify members who will bring experience in key farm policy, crop and revenue insurance, bioenergy, agricultural research, and trade, and perspectives from all soybean production areas," said ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, Ohio. "I've also included past leaders who have been involved in previous farm bill debates to ensure that ASA is fully prepared to offer and advocate meaningful policies."

The following grower leaders will serve on the 2012 ASA Farm Bill Working Group: Johnny Dodson, Halls, Tenn., Chair; Dan Feige, Goodwin, S.D.; Ted Glaub, Jonesboro, Ark.; Mark Jackson, Rose Hill, Iowa; Ron Kindred, Atlanta, Ill.; Lance Peterson, Underwood, Minn.; Andy Welden, Jonesville, Mich.; Steve Wellman, Syracuse, Neb., and ASA Past Presidents Rick Ostlie, Northwood, N.D. and John Long, Newberry, S.C. Joslin and ASA First Vice-President Alan Kemper from Lafayette, Ind., who Chairs ASA's Public Affairs Committee, will serve ex officio on the Working Group.

"With regard to the likely 2012 farm bill development process, Chairman Peterson told us that after the initial hearings in Washington this month, he plans to hold field hearings across the country in May and June 2010," Joslin said. "In early 2011, the Committee may hold additional hearings in Washington before marking up its bill in the summer and passing it in the House in the fall of 2011. Peterson anticipates the Senate will mark up its version of the farm bill before the August recess in 2012 in order to complete conference with the House before the end of September of that year, when the 2008 farm bill expires."

Total agriculture spending for the farm income safety net, crop insurance, conservation and export programs — not including food stamps and nutrition programs — represents just one-half of one percent of Federal government spending. While the costs of other entitlement programs, particularly Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, have continued to rise, baseline outlays for farm programs have declined since 2008. At the same time, agriculture exports in 2010 are expected to top $100 billion, making a significant contribution to reducing the U.S. trade deficit. Compared to Federal support for other industries, the agriculture sector is providing more "bang for the buck."

The farm bill creates the policy that will administer commodity programs, conservation, trade, nutrition, rural development, agricultural research and bioenergy.

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA's advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.