On Monday, American Soybean Association (ASA) President Alan Kemper, a soybean farmer from Lafayette, Ind., welcomed Dr. Paolo De Castro, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, at a trade luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
ASA organized the lunch for De Castro that included an invited audience of U.S. food, agriculture, and agribusiness leaders. In his remarks, Kemper pointed out the responsibilities that the agriculture sectors in the United States and the European Union share in providing food, feed, fiber, and fuel to meet a growing world demand.
"We have entered an era of tighter supplies, higher prices, and undiminished food assistance needs," Kemper said.
"At the same time, we are engaged in discussions about the role of biotechnology in meeting this rising food demand, and how sustainable agriculture regulations, standards, and policies may help or hurt our efforts to successfully meet world food needs.
“It is my belief that, through our discussions and meetings like this today, we can develop the appropriate policies that will allow us to succeed in meeting food needs."
In addition to the United States’ and European Union’s roles globally, these two countries have robust bilateral agricultural trade to sustain and grow. In 2010 the United States exported nearly $11 billion in agricultural commodities and food to the EU, including over $1.5 billion in soybeans and soybean meal.
Likewise, the United States is a major market for EU agricultural goods, importing over $17 billion in 2009.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs is responsible for reviewing and amending the European Commission’s legislative proposals and preparing reports on agricultural policy for subsequent adoption by the European Parliament.
The Committee gained substantial additional powers under the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, when the European Parliament was given co-decision authority over the Common Agricultural Policy with the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the 27 EU Member States. Previously, De Castro served as Minister of Agriculture for Italy.
Kemper also met with De Castro to discuss the development and approval of new biotech crops, and the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that threatens U.S. soybean exports to the EU, valued at $1.36 billion in 2010.
"The EU needs a transparent, science-based approval process that does not delay commercialization of new biotech traits in the U.S.," Kemper said.
"To address the RED certification process, we need a bilateral agreement on an aggregate approach for certification based on U.S. conservation and farm laws, and a default value for soy-based biodiesel greenhouse gas emissions savings that is based on the sustainability of U.S. soybean production and transportation efficiencies."
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 21,000 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.