AmericanFarm.com

No referendum vote for soybean checkoff

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

The 14 year-old soybean checkoff is firmly in place for another five years.
Polled by the USDA, America’s soy producers overwhelmingly responded “keep it going.”
It’s been that way ever since Congress created the checkoff program in 1990 and it went into effect in 1991.
Every five years, in a pre-referendum poll, the USDA has asked the nation’s soy growers whether the program should be continued or abolished. Growers favoring the program were not required to respond.
If 10 percent responded disfavoring the checkoff, the USDA said it would then hold a formal referendum. The 10 percent has never been achieved. The 2014 count was no different.
USDA received 355 request-for-referendum forms, from Farm Service Agency offices of which only 324 were valid. The 355 forms represent only 0.06 percent of all eligible U.S. soybean farmers, obviously well short of the 10 percent needed to prompt a referendum.
“These results show that U.S. soybean farmers overwhelmingly see the value in our soy checkoff,” said Jim Call, soybean farmer from Madison, Minn., and United Soybean Board  chairman.
If 10 percent of the 569,998 U.S. soybean farmers had requested a referendum, with no more than one-fifth of the 10 percent coming from one state, USDA would have conducted the referendum within 12 months.
Farmers certifying that they or the entity they represent paid into the checkoff at any time between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013, were eligible to participate in the petition for referendum.
Under the checkoff program,  U.S farmers contribute 50 cents for every $100 they receive for their beans at the first point of sale. The money goes into  a kitty that state soybean boards and the USB allot in grants to support research, education and market development programs.
Overall, it’s purpose is to help assure the profitablity of the nation’s soy growers.