The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased to learn the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that a referendum will not be necessary on the Soybean Research and Promotion Program.
The request for referendum process indicates that the vast majority of U.S. soybean producers support their checkoff. Out of 600,813 qualified stakeholders, only 17,970 valid requests, less than 3% of the total, were received, far less than the threshold of 60,082 that would have triggered a referendum.
"USDA's request for referendum process validates what ASA producer-leaders long have believed, that is that most soybean producers feel their checkoff is doing a pretty good job for them," said ASA President Marc Curtis, who led ASA's advocacy efforts to promote the positive referendum period. "ASA has found that producer support for the soybean checkoff increases in direct proportion to a producer's knowledge of chekoff-funded activities and how these programs directly benefit soybean producers."
Producers certifying that they produced soybeans at any time during a period beginning Jan. 1, 1997, and ending Nov. 16, 1999, were eligible to participate in the petition for a referendum.
An eligible producer, as defined by the USDA, was any person engaged in the growing of soybeans in the United States who owned or shared ownership and risk of loss of such soybeans. Eligible individuals not wanting a referendum did not need to take any action.
"ASA will continue its efforts to communicate the benefits of the soybean checkoff to all soybean producers and we can reach out to those 17,970 people who did feel that a referendum should be called," Curtis said. "I would be willing to take a look at their concerns and welcome an opportunity to tell them why I think the soybean checkoff is a tremendous asset that is building demand for our products."
State soybean checkoffs were originally developed in 1968. In 1989, ASA's voting delegates adopted a resolution calling for passage of a national soybean checkoff in the 1990 farm bill.
ASA worked directly with Congress to develop the format and structure of today's soybean checkoff program that has helped improve soybean industry profitability and is responsive to soybean farmers' needs.