The American Soybean Association (ASA) presented its views to Congress yesterday on the current farm crises and the short-term assistance needed to address it. During testimony before the House Agriculture Committee, ASA Executive Committee member and Illinois soybean grower Dwain Ford urged Congress to act on a variety of measures, including doubling the amount of Agricultural Marketing Transition Act (AMTA) payments to farmers, and raising or waiving the cap on marketing loan gains and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) for all 1999 crops.The price paid to farmers for their soybeans during the last three growing seasons averaged $6.85 per bushel. USDA’s projected season average price for 1999 crop soybeans is $4.70 per bushel, a decline of more than 30 percent. “A farmer with 500 acres of soybeans and a 40 bushel yield will receive $43,000 less this year compared to the average received during the last three,” Ford said. “Without some form of assistance, this decline in farm income will eliminate producers’ profit margins and come right out of farm equity.”To date, the marketing loan program has been the only farm income safety net available to soybean and other oilseed producers. Soybean farmers have been able to offset some of their losses on the 1998 crop through marketing loan gains and LDPs. The importance of the marketing loan program in protecting soybean producer income will be even more evident in the coming year. “The magnitude of anticipated marketing loan gains and LDPs for all 1999 crops makes it essential to raise or waive the cap imposed by the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act,” Ford said.To provide direct assistance to soybean growers, ASA also supported increased Agricultural Marketing Transition Act (AMTA) payments. Producers should be allowed to elect whether to receive these payments in either 1999 or 2000.ASA also urged approval of the provision in the Senate FY-2000 agriculture appropriations bill that would distribute $475 million among oilseed producers. A similar measure is included in the “Farm and Ranch Emergency Assistance Act of 1999” introduced by Representative JoAnn Emerson (R-MO). Based on production estimates, payments under the program would supplement producer income by about 15 cents per bushel, or about $6 per acre of soybeans.Along with several other measures, ASA called for Congress to complete crop insurance reform and provide further tax relief to producers this year. Specific provisions that would benefit farmers include enactment of the Farm, Fisheries, and Ranch Risk Management (FFARRM) accounts, and elimination of death taxes.ASA also thanked House Agriculture Committee members for their support of ASA’s request for a $1.0 billion soy food aid initiative. The first phase of this proposal is awaiting a determination by Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman that soybean production and stocks are in surplus and warrant use authorities under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and Section 416. ASA anticipates the Secretary will make the decision shortly.