Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, the United States and Uruguay are the top world producers of soy. The countries are fierce competitors for market share and customers in the global marketplace. However, these countries are all facing two major issues – market access and biotech acceptance. These issues are so pervasive and detrimental to the soy industry that the countries put their differences aside and joined forces as the International Soy Growers Alliance (ISGA). A group of delegates recently met in Argentina to address these issues.
Jimmy Sneed, soybean farmer from Hernando, Mississippi, and director on both the United Soybean Board and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), represented U.S. soybean farmers in the ISGA mission to Argentina. Sneed says that although these countries are competitors in the marketplace, they can work together to address issues of common interest.
“Market access and uncoordinated biotech trait approvals are two issues we are all facing,” says Sneed. “Improving trade access and biotech approval processes can help farmers use more innovative technologies to increase the efficiency and sustainability of soy.”
Innovations in agriculture help farmers to continuously improve and meet customer needs. U.S. soy depends on these innovations to consistently supply a sustainable crop to buyers.
“We understand the importance of the biotech approval process and that each country has a process that’s right for them,” explains Sneed. “But at the end of the day, uncoordinated approvals and delays make us all less competitive. We need dependable, science-based approval processes.”
ISGA’s work on market access and asynchronous approvals is an ongoing effort. The group meets multiple times each year to discuss these issues and how to address them with regulators in soy importing and exporting countries.
“ISGA gives the global soybean-producing industry a united front to address these like-minded issues,” says Sneed.
Although it’s an uphill battle to coordinate approvals and maintain market access in countries such as China and the E.U., Sneed feels that it’s worth the fight.
“There’s a general optimism about coming together with like interests and a common recognition of the importance of innovation in the soy industry,” concludes Sneed.
In addition to Sneed, the following individuals also represented the U.S. soy industry at ISGA: Jim Miller, soybean farmer from Belden, Nebraska, USSEC chair and American Soybean Association director; Jim Sutter, USSEC CEO; and Roz Leeck, USSEC marketing director—market access.