MANKATO, Minn. -- Since the beginning of the national soybean checkoff in 1991, the farm-gate value of soybeans has increased 2.5 times to $25 billion, demand for U.S. soy has doubled and exports have tripled. These are just a few of the reasons state affiliates of the U.S. Soybean Federation (USSF) recently reaffirmed their full support of the current national soybean checkoff program.

"There is absolutely no question that soybean farmers have benefited from the national soybean checkoff program," says Warren Stemme, USSF president and a soybean farmer from Chesterfield, Mo. "The farmers who created the checkoff nearly 18 years ago demonstrated an amazing amount of insight and now it's the job of today's soybean farmers to keep the program and the corresponding legislation intact."

Beginning today soybean farmers have the opportunity to participate in a request for referendum. Farmers can sign a petition requesting a vote on the continuation of the soybean checkoff program.

USSF Vice President Jerry Slocum explained that farmers who believe the soybean checkoff is doing a good job for them don't need to sign the petition.

"You have to ask yourself if we are in a better place now because of the soybean checkoff and I think that answer is quite simply yes," says Slocum, a soybean farmer from Coldwater, Miss. "Without a national soybean checkoff program farmers would not be nearly as successful competing in the global market as we are today."

Other major checkoff accomplishments highlighted by USSF farmer leaders include the creation of a soy biodiesel industry, production research advances that have helped manage yield-robbing pests and diseases and development of new uses like the soy foam seats found in Ford vehicles. USSF leaders also underscored the checkoff's leadership in continued record-breaking exports, due in part to international marketing activities that have protected the market for biotech soybeans.

"Our soybean checkoff allows U.S. farmers to have a competitive edge over every other soybean-producing country in the world," says Bill Zurn, USSF secretary and a soybean farmer from Callaway, Minn. "That's something we can't afford to lose. In short, if farmers support the checkoff they don't have to do anything during the request for referendum."

The last soybean request for referendum was held in 2004 with a total of 3,206 farmers signing a petition requesting a referendum. That number reflected less than one-half percent of all eligible farmers.

USSF was created by soybean farmers from Minnesota, Missouri and Mississippi to represent U.S. soybean farmers through policy and advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C.