Source: United Soybean Board

During its recent board meeting in Charleston, S.C., the United Soybean Board was presented with the results of its independent return-on-investment study, which was conducted by Dr. Gary Williams, director of the Texas Agribusiness Market Research Center at Texas A&M University. The study found that the soybean checkoff has returned $6.40 in additional profits to U.S. soybean farmers for every dollar invested.

"The ROI study is very helpful as it shows the soybean checkoff is working," says Jim Stillman, USB Audit and Evaluation Chair and a soybean farmer from Emmetsburg, Iowa. "We are investing dollars and getting a $6.40 return for every one we invest. You think of all the different projects the checkoff invests in, and to see that kind of return for every dollar that we have spent, it's obvious we're driving demand throughout the world for our product."

Also presented to the board at the Charleston meetings were the results of the annual audit, which gave high marks to the checkoff's fiscal year 2008 financial records.

"It's very rare to have a completely clean audit," said Marc Curtis, USB Treasurer and a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss. "I'm proud of the results and proud of the USB staff. Without them, it wouldn't have happened. These results show that the board is dedicated to making sure everything is accounted for. They validate what we're doing and the financial accounting system at USB. It tells us we're doing things right."

Mandated by the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 and conducted every five years, the study was designed to answer two questions. First, what have been the effects of the soybean checkoff programs on U.S. and world soybean and product markets? And, second, has the soybean checkoff program benefited soybean producers?

The researchers found the answers to those questions were positive. Major conclusions of the study include:

  • The soybean checkoff has increased the size and profitability of the U.S. soybean industry.

  • The soybean checkoff has supported soybean and product prices each year by an average of 2 percent above what prices would have been without the checkoff.

  • The soybean checkoff has boosted the annual level of soybean, soybean meal and soy oil exports by an average of 5 percent, 15 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

  • The soybean checkoff has reduced the competitive threat of the South American soybean industry.

  • The soybean checkoff has acted as a countercyclical force in the soybean industry, reducing the severity of market downturns in bad years and adding to growth and profitability in good years.

The ROI study and annual audit are just two of several methods the checkoff uses to maintain fiscal responsibility and transparency. USB Chairman Chuck Myers, a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb., said such exercises keep the checkoff farmer-leaders pointed in the right direction when it comes to investing checkoff dollars.

"We're constantly working to find out through surveys and meetings what we need to be working on and where we need to be investing soybean farmers' checkoff money," Myers said. "I think we've been very effective in doing that, and the success of the soybean checkoff shows just that."