Independent study shows soybean checkoff returns over $5 for every dollar farmers invest
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. According to the results of a new, independent study, the checkoff continues to grow those small investments into big results for U.S. soybean farmers.
The results of the checkoff’s most recent regular, independent return-on-investment (ROI) analysis found that all U.S. soybean farmers receive $5.20 in profits for every dollar they invest in the checkoff.
“Farmers are always looking for ways to improve profitability and become more efficient, so ROI is very important to them,” says United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Jim Call, a soybean farmer from Madison, Minnesota. “This study shows that U.S. soybean farmers are better off because of the checkoff.”
Gary Williams, Ph.D., an agricultural economics professor from Texas A&M University who conducted the study, says 5 percent of all U.S. soybean farmers’ revenues are due to the checkoff’s research and marketing efforts. Williams also pointed out other conclusions, including:
The soy checkoff has increased the size of the U.S. soybean industry.
It has lifted the markets for U.S. soybeans, meal and oil, as well as U.S. soybean farmer returns.
The checkoff has also increased U.S. soy exports and reduced the competitive threat of the South American soybean industry. As a result, U.S. soybean farmers currently enjoy a larger share of the global soy market.
The benefits of the checkoff for U.S. soybean farmers and the industry in terms of net additional returns have far exceeded the cost of the program expenditures over time.
According to USB Executive Committee and Value Task Force Member Gregg Fujan, a soybean farmer from Weston, Nebraska, the ROI study is one of several tools the checkoff uses to ensure farmers’ dollars working for them.
“As board members, we take our responsibility to the farmers we represent very seriously. We always want to make sure that U.S. soybean farmers get the most for their investment,” Fujan says. “The ROI study, along with all the other evaluations and reporting we require, ensures that all of our projects remain consistent with our strategy and are working for the good of the farmer.”
The results of the most recent soy checkoff request for referendum balloting indicate that farmers know the value of the checkoff. The U.S. Department of Agriculture received 355 request-for-referendum forms from U.S. soybean farmers during May, the month designated this year for the opportunity provided every five years for U.S. soybean farmers to request that a referendum be held on the checkoff’s existence. Of those, only 324 were valid, which represents 0.06 percent of all eligible U.S. soybean farmers, falling far short of the 10 percent needed to trigger a full referendum.
The 70 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.