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Soybean producers raise concerns over Asian Rust

Editor's note: The United States imported 108,901 metric tons of oilseeds and products from Brazil in the past 12 months (March 2002 thru Feb. 2003) compared with 16,946 metric tons the previous 12 months. During the same period, 143,376 metric tons of oilseed cake and meal were imported from South America. Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics and USDA Economic Research Service.

(Tuesday, April 15, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- The following is a news release from the Soybean Producers of America.

Contact: Harvey Joe Sanner (501) 516-7000

Soybeans and soybean products being imported into the U.S. are alarming to many growers in North America, according to Harvey Joe Sanner, Executive Director of the Soybean Producers of America (SPA). "The market price for soybeans is still very much depressed. Even though the price has moved upward in recent weeks, just a hint of imports costs American farmers and their communities dearly as futures markets react to potential supply increases with real price decreases."

Sanner went on to say, "Now we have another concern to deal with that also spells economic disaster for us, Asian Rust, a disease that is attacking soybean plants in Brazil and severely reducing yields. Corporations operating in the U.S. and Brazil who transport people, equipment and soybeans from South America to North America could be exposing our growers to this dreaded disease."

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agricultureís Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have warned us about this disease and the potential threat it poses. The SPA believes that all soy and soy products from South America should be denied entry into the U.S., until such time as that continent is certified as being free of Asian Rust.

Sanner said, "Weíve had U.S. farm organizations hosting delegations to Brazil and other areas in South America and I just hope they remembered what their Mama taught them, that is, to wipe your feet before you track something in the house. It is not beyond reason to think that our own people could unwittingly transfer this disease to our farms. We need not import our own demise!"

"It is not that we donít trust the exporters and importers to do the right thing. Itís just that we understand how the profit motive tends to override concerns for the security of our food and feed supplies. The SPA sees this as another example of how important country of origin labeling is. The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law passed last year for meat and poultry sold in the U.S. should be expanded to include all agricultural products. We need to know more about where imports come from and what they have been exposed to. It is not simply the economics at stake, itís common sense and concern for our families that warrants our support of expansion and implementation of COOL."