The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports legislation passed by the U.S. Senate this week that provides an additional $2.6 billion for agriculture disaster relief, allows for the sale of U.S. food and medicine to Cuba, and doubles the payment limit on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains. ASA considers the package an important step toward supporting producer income during a period when commodity prices have fallen to their lowest levels since the early 1970s.”The sanctions provisions in this bill are a good first step, but they still restrict financing by U.S. banks and the use of USDA’s export credit program,” said ASA President Tony Anderson, a producer from Mount Sterling, Ohio. “The U.S. must be able to compete on the same terms with other exporting countries. This legislation falls short of what was promised to us during the 1996 Farm Bill process.”For four decades, U.S. farmers have endured a nightmare of unilateral ecomonic sanctions that have denied them access to multi-billion dollar markets. A 1998 ASA report determined that restrictions on exports to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan totaled $554 million annually for soybeans and soy products alone.”ASA will continue to work with members of Congress for sanctions legislation that will fully restore the reputation of the United States as a reliable supplier of food and agricultural products,” Anderson said.The bill also will double the payment limit from $75,000 to $150,000 on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains available to producers when market prices are below federal minimums. The limit is a maximum amount for all eligible crops a farmer produces.According to Anderson, “The increased payment limit is critical to helping farmers work through this period of historically low commodity prices.”The FY-2001 agriculture appropriations bill containing the economic assistance, sanctions reform, and payment limit provisions passed the House and Senate this week. President Clinton has indicated his intention to sign the legislation.