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Asian Rust infected soybeans should not be allowed in U.S., says grower group

(Friday, Jan. 2, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release:

Contact: Harvey Joe Sanner (501) 516-7000, HJSanner@aol.com

Des Arc, Ark.---Jan. 2, 2004---The Soybean Producers of America (SPA) is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately halt all shipments of soybeans and soybean products in to the United States from nations that have Asian Rust contamination. Asian Rust is a disease that can drastically reduce soybean yields and thus far the United States has avoided this disaster.

Harvey Joe Sanner, Executive Director of the SPA says, "It is not enough to suggest to USDA that they try to develop rules for imported soybeans as proposed by the American Soybean Association (ASA). Farmers do not want the imported soybeans here and strongly believe that the imports should not be allowed. News reports indicate that some whole soybeans have already been imported at Houston, Texas. Industry voices, including the ASA, indicate that our reduced soybean supplies warrants imports, yet USDA claims that U.S. stocks will number 125 million bushels when the 2004 harvest arrives. It certainly seems to be premature and dangerous behavior to advocate imports at this time. Disease free U.S. beans are available to meet current demand. If the U.S. soybean supply is depleted this summer, then and only then should we consider imports that have been properly inspected and treated for Asian Rust".

"To do otherwise is reckless and should warrant producer litigation against those responsible for any damage inflicted on U.S. growers by allowing the importation of and the resulting carnage caused by the Asian Rust. If the importers and USDA allow this known disease to infect our crops, they should be held responsible, and required to compensate producers for their losses," Sanner says.

SPA will be recommending to Congress that they instruct USDA to prohibit soy or soy product imports at this time. "We are now living with the disruptions and potential hazards to humans caused by Mad Cow disease. Prudence could avoid such consequences in the soybean industry. However, sometimes in the corporate world, short-term profit driven motives out weigh common sense. Let's hope that is not the case with Asian Rust. We need responsible behavior from all involved to avoid a catastrophe that will fall first and hardest on producers," concluded Sanner.