The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the results of the request for referendum on the Soybean Research and Promotion Program (soy checkoff).
USDA received 355 request-for-referendum forms, of which only 324 were valid, from Farm Service Agency offices. The 355 forms represent 0.06 percent of all eligible U.S. soybean farmers. That result falls 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," says Jim Call, soybean farmer from Madison, Minnesota, and United Soybean Board (USB) chairman. "It's more important than ever that the volunteer farmer-leaders of USB continue to invest soy checkoff funds to maximize the profit potential for all U.S. soybean farmers."
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 on the soy checkoff within 12 months. USDA conducts the request-for-referendum vote every five years, as required by the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act. The most recent period took place from May 5 through May 30.
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. Eligible farmers who did not want a referendum did not need to take any action.
USDA requested and approved a notification by USB to inform U.S. soybean farmers about the request-for-referendum period. USB placed paid notifications on the request for referendum in national, regional and state agricultural publications and also distributed the notification to all Qualified State Soybean Boards and the news media.
In addition, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service and Farm Service Agency distributed the information about the request-for-referendum period.
"As industry leaders, USB will keep moving U.S. soybeans forward to be the top global oilseed," adds Call. "It's a great vote of confidence knowing U.S. soybean farmers support this work as well."
The 70 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers.
As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.