President Barrack Obama delivered the State of the Union on Tuesday evening and so far has received praise from agricultural groups. Steve Wellman, president of the American Soybean Association was particularly happy about the President's continued commitment and emphasis of international trade.
"We encourage the administration and Congress to redouble its efforts to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of export markets for American agricultural products," Wellman said. "These increased opportunities create not only valuable customer bases abroad, but jobs here at home. According to USDA, every billion dollars in agricultural exports creates an additional 8,000 domestic jobs. ASA hopes that the administration will help continue this progress with the expedited conclusion of negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the prompt inclusion of Japan in the TPP, which will expand opportunities for increased U.S. meat, dairy, and exports to this affluent market."
Also issuing a statement following Tuesday's speech was National Farmer Union President Roger Johnson. He said he too was encouraged by the comments on trade and spoke about the importance of rural America to the economy.
"Rebuilding the economy begins in rural America," Johnson said. "It begins with U.S. family farmers and ranchers who provide food, fiber and American-made fuel. The farm bill is the largest investment in rural America, and in order to ensure family farms and rural America can continue to prosper, it must be passed in 2012"
Energy was another key component of President Obama's State of the Union. ASA, NFU and other groups were pleased by his comments on renewable energy.
"The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to hear President Obama’s continued commitment to the nation’s energy independence during his State of the Union address," National Corn Growers Association Chairman Bart Schott said. "The American ethanol industry answered the call nearly 30 years ago to provide feedstock for a domestically produced renewable energy source. Today, that same feedstock constitutes more than 10% of the nation’s fuel and continues to provide a bountiful supply of corn to our long term customers."
While most of the reaction to the State of the Union were positive, there were a few areas that gave farm groups some concern. Although the President did acknowledge the importance of infrastructure, he concentrated mostly on roads and interstates. ASA encourages him to remember the nation's waterways.
"An investment in increased dredging and updates to the locks and dams along the Mississippi River is a critical down payment on the agriculture industry’s ability to move its product to market more economically and efficiently," Wellman said.
There was also concern about regulatory burdens on farmers and debt reductions. Although agriculture is willing to do its fair share when it comes to a smaller budget, the nation's investment in agriculture should not be cut disproportionally.