The American Soybean Association (ASA) has filed a petition with Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer to order an Office of Inspector General investigation and financial audit of the National Soybean Checkoff Program.
The petition calls for an investigation of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to ensure that soybean checkoff dollars are being managed and invested as prescribed by law.
“Serious ethical, legal and financial allegations have been raised about how farmer checkoff funds and program activities are being conducted,” says ASA Chairman John Hoffman, Waterloo, IA.
SOME OF THE allegations include wasteful spending of checkoff funds, violation of salary and administrative caps required under the Act and the Order, use of checkoff funds for prohibited purposes and abuse of authority. For a complete list, check www.soygrowers.com.
“This isn't an action we took lightly, but we (board) came to this unanimous conclusion because there was no other course of action,” says Hoffman. “ASA believes strongly in the need for a national soybean checkoff program that is responsive to soybean farmers and spends their dollars wisely.”
USB's response is that they've pledged full cooperation to Secretary Schafer. “I'm confident that we are doing the best work we possibly can in the best interest of the soybean farmers across the nation,” says Chuck Myers, USB chairman from Lyons, NE. He also adds that, “It's not ASA's responsibility to ensure the checkoff program operates correctly. It's USDA's responsibility.”
USB's latest producer survey shows that 74% of soybean farmers support the checkoff program. In fiscal year 2008, USB provided ASA over $3 million in direct and in-kind support for non-advocacy activities.
“USB is continuing to do what they've been doing, says Marc Curtis, USB treasurer from Leland, MS. “We have a budget in place and everything will function as it has for the last 17 years the checkoff has been in place.”
For more information go to www.unitedsoybean.org.