Officials from the American Soybean Association (ASA) have asked for an investigation and audit of the United Soybean Board (USB) for its handling of farmer checkoff funds and program activities. USB officials in turn have responded to ASA’s allegations, stating they are “categorically untrue.”
During the national checkoff’s nearly two decades of operation, soybean growers have paid $1.3 billion into the checkoff. At the higher price and acreage levels experienced recently, checkoff collections from soybean growers in fiscal year 2008 are estimated to exceed $140 million — three and half times the amount collected in 1992 when the national checkoff first began.
At last week’s winter meeting, the ASA Board of Directors unanimously approved asking the Secretary of Agriculture to order a USDA Office of Inspector General investigation and financial audit of the National Soybean Checkoff Program. ASA has shared a summary of its concerns and allegations with state and national soybean leaders and key industry stakeholders. The summary document is also available at www.soygrowers.com/newsroom/releases/documents/summary.pdf.
In a news release, USB responded to ASA’s allegations. “Today, U.S. soybean farmers enjoy record demand both here and abroad for their soybeans, through the fiscally responsible efforts of the farmers who serve voluntarily on USB,” the release states. USB also states that if USDA deems it necessary, USB welcomes an agency audit of any and all of its operations, contractor operations, and projects.
(Sources: American Soybean Association; Southeast Farm Press)