AmericanFarm.com

Industry evaluating soybean checkoff

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

(May 13, 2014) Farmers who grow and market soybeans may vote now through May 30 on whether the industry’s 13-year-old checkoff needs reconfirmation.
The referendum is not to approve or disapprove the checkoff program, which was established in 1991 and under which soybean farmers, at the first point of sale of their annual crop, contribute 50 cents of every $100 that they get from the elevator, to a kitty which supports soybean research, promotion and consumer education.
The current referendum, which must attract a certain percentage of the nation’s soybean growers, merely informs the USDA to schedule — or not to schedule — another referendum, this one on the checkoff program itself.
There have been what are called “requests for referendum” referenda every five years since 1991.
None has ever succeeded.
This referendum process is authorized under the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1990.
Congress built it into the legislation to confirm whether U.S. soybean producers want a referendum on the checkoff and, if they don’t, forget it for another five years.
To be eligible to vote in the current referendum, producers must certify they or the entity they are authorized to represent, paid an assessment into the checkoff at some time between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013.
Documentation for that assessment, such as sales receipts showing that the checkoff was collected, will be required up front when submitting the request form.
Eligible individuals who do not want a referendum need not take any action.
The process requires eligible producers who want to indicate their support for a referendum to complete and sign form LS-51-1.
Producers may obtain this form online, in person at a local Farm Service Agency office, by mail or by facsimile between May 5-30.
FSA is then responsible for determining a producer’s eligibility. If FSA cannot determine the producer’s eligibility or if the producer fails to submit documentation, then FSA will notify the ineligible person in writing.
Producers who do not participate in FSA programs may obtain a Form LS-51-1 at the county FSA office where the producer owns or rents land. This form may also be obtained via the Internet athttp://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/SoybeanInformationontheSoybeanRequestforReferendum.
FSA will have until June 11, to notify ineligible producers in writing.  If FSA determines in writing that producer ineligibility is due to lack of documentation submitted (sales receipts or other relevant documents), the producer can appeal and provide the required documentation to FSA. 
The required documentation must be received by FSA by June 18, 2014, when FSA will make a final decision on eligibility.
If the USDA determines that at least 10 percent of the nation’s 569,998 soybean producers have requested a referendum, a referendum will then be held within one year from that determination.
No more than one-fifth of the producers who support having a referendum can be from any one state.
For more information on the request-for-referendum procedures, visithttp://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/.