The results are in and the U.S. Soybean Federation (USSF) board of directors is offering its congratulations and support to the farmer-leaders of the United Soybean Board (USB).
After an 18-month process the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) review of the soybean checkoff fully vindicates USB, its staff and volunteer leaders, finding allegations against USB were unfounded.
“Ultimately the results show what many of us familiar with the soybean checkoff already knew-that the volunteer farmers who lead the checkoff do so within the letter and spirit of the law,” said Jerry Slocum, USSF president and a soybean farmer from Coldwater, MS. “What the OIG results tell us is that the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) petition was baseless and unfounded.”
The OIG review was launched after a petition listing a myriad of allegations against the checkoff was submitted by the ASA in December 2008. The petition launched a myriad of allegations against USB but, according to the OIG report, they “found insufficient evidence to support ASA’s allegations.”
“I wish I could say this was a good process for USB to go through, but the bottom line is we already knew that USB was acting within the letter of the law,” said Slocum. “And now farmers had to spend nearly a million dollars in checkoff funds to respond to this petition. It’s money that should have been used for countless better things-from new use research to protecting domestic animal agriculture.”
According to Slocum the one takeaway from the OIG review was a recommendation that USB increase its oversight of U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) expenditures. USSEC is the primary contractor for checkoff international marketing programs. USB leaders previously recognized this need and put into place measures that increased that oversight in a contracted dated Oct. 1, 2008.
USSF was formed in January 2009 by several soybean farmer leaders who believed there was a need for a policy and advocacy organization that would publicly and privately support the current soybean checkoff program. Part of that support, according to USSF leaders, is grounded in a belief that the checkoff farmer leaders work with honesty, integrity and the best interest of their fellow farmers at heart. USSF leaders also point to several checkoff milestones that have given U.S. soybean farmers a competitive edge in the global marketplace, including:
* Annual demand for U.S. soy has doubled since the start of the checkoff, increasing from 1.5 billion bushels to 3 billion bushels.
* Since the start of the national soybean checkoff the farmgate value of soybeans has jumped from $10 billion to $25 billion.
* Transformation of China from an export competitor to the U.S. to the number one international customer of U.S. soybean farmers.
* Creation of a biodiesel, resulting in demand for more than 800 million gallons of biodiesel last year alone.
* Commercialization of countless new uses, including carpet backing, cosmetics, insulation, engine oils and parts on Ford trucks.