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Soybean Growers Want Higher Loan Rate

October 10, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The nation’s soybean growers want an increase in the government loan rate that enables them to hold their crop off the market until prices improve.

The American Soybean Association says the increase would cost little while still encouraging production when Congress changes farm programs this year.

The second-most-valuable U.S. crop after corn, soybeans receive virtually no government support compared with subsidies for the traditional program crops: corn, other feed grains, cotton, rice and wheat.

Even though payments for those crops will be reduced under pending legislation, soybean producers will have a disadvantage, the soybean organization said.

``Unless equitable conditions are provided, soybeans will continue to lose acres, and U.S. soybean producers will miss a major opportunity to compete for growing world demand for oilseeds and oilseed products,″ said John Long, a Newberry, S.C., grower and president of the group.

A loss of soybean acres in the Mid-South and Southeast would disrupt feed supplies for the poultry and swine industries concentrated in those regions, Long said.

For soybeans to compete, the price-supporting loan rate should be raised from its current $4.92 a bushel, the soybean association said. Because market prices have averaged much higher, farmers don’t benefit from the price floor provided by the loan.

The group wants support to equal 95 percent of average prices for the past five years, which would mean a loan rate of $5.51 a bushel.

Cotton and rice growers get payments based on the difference between their loan rate and the lower world price. Like corn and wheat growers, they also get a deficiency payment based on the difference between a higher target price and the market price.

A bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee would make it easier to plant cotton or rice on traditional soybean acres. Although soybeans could be planted on traditional cotton or rice acres, the benefits are smaller.

Corn and wheat growers could switch to other crops, including soybeans, without losing their corn or wheat subsidies, under the Senate committee’s bill. Also, more acres would be exempt from any kind of subsidy payment, meaning all crops should be competitive on that land.

But David Erickson, an Altona, Ill., grower and vice president of the soybean association, said many growers may hesitate to switch from program crops.

``It looks like it would be a good option along with the increased flexibility to provide marketing loans that will help in the case of variability of crop prices due to this increased flexibility,″ he said.

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ When it comes to trade disputes, don’t expect all of American agriculture to be on one side. The newest trade tussle with Mexico pits pigs vs. tomatoes.

The U.S. tomato industry wants to tighten the quota on imports from Mexico by switching from a quarterly to a weekly or daily allocation. The quota would be based on the allocation even if real imports fell below that amount.

The National Pork Producers Council opposes the move, but not because it has any beef with U.S. tomatoes. The pork industry fears that Mexico will retaliate by clamping down on U.S. pork, pork products and live hogs.

The group made its concerns known in a recent letter to U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor.

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