Soybean producers are concerned about accidental introduction of Asian soybean rust from Brazil. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has asked the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to conduct a risk assessment before any potential commodity soybean imports from rust-infected countries are contemplated.
"Given the impact soybean rust would have on soybean production and growers in the U.S., the only prudent course of action is to avoid imports from diseased areas until APHIS completes its risk assessment," says ASA President Ron Heck, a soybean producer from Perry, Iowa. "We know APHIS scientists are working diligently on the risk assessment, and ASA supports their science-based evaluation."
Soybean rust is not present in the continental United States. It has been present throughout Asia and Australia for decades. In 1996, the disease moved from Asia into Uganda, and by 2002, it had spread throughout much of Africa. In 2001, soybean rust was found in South America and it has spread throughout the soybean growing areas of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. By 2003, rust had also spread to a northern, non-soybean growing area of Argentina.
In a Phytosanitary Alert issued by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO), it was estimated that soybean rust could adversely affect all soybean varieties in the United States at an estimated cost of $7.2 billion, which represents about half the value of the U.S. soybean crop.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to the USDA three weeks ago requesting they continue to determine a science-based protocol for entry of foreign soybeans into the United States. Representative Tom Latham, R-Iowa, has introduced a bill that calls for temporary suspension of soybean imports. Grassley warns that the United States has always been a country that bases its decision on sound science. He adds, "we've got time to make judgements based on science and not emotion" and doesn't support the suspension.