USDA will conduct a request for referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program or soybean checkoff during most of the month of May.

The request for referendum will determine whether U.S. soybean producers want a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program. The Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act requires the Secretary of Agriculture provide soybean producers the opportunity to petition for a referendum every five years.

Eligibility defined

Soybean producers eligible to participate in the request for referendum are defined as any producer who paid an assessment on the sale of soybeans during the period beginning Jan. 1, 2002 and ending Dec. 31, 2003, and who owned or shared in the ownership and the risk of loss of such soybeans during this period of time.

Eligible individuals who do not want a referendum need not take any action.

Producers can obtain a LS 51-1 form to request a referendum either in person, by mail or by fax, from May 3 through May 28, 2004, from their county Farm Service Agency offices or online at www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mpb/rp-soy.htm.

Individual producers and other producer entities can request a referendum at the county FSA office that maintains and processes the producer's administrative farm records. A producer not participating in FSA programs may request a referendum at the county FSA office serving the area where the producer owns or rents land.

By May 28

Request for Referendum forms returned by mail must be postmarked by May 28, 2004, and received in the county FSA office by June 7, 2004. Requests for Referendum forms returned in person or by fax must be received in the county FSA office by May 28, 2004. Producers also need to attach documentation such as a sales receipt to this form showing that the producer, corporation or other entity paid assessments on soybeans during the period from Jan. 1, 2002, through Dec. 31, 2003. FSA will determine a producer's eligibility and notify all producers who are ineligible to participate in the request for referendum process.

If USDA determines that at least 10 percent of the nation's 663,880 soybean producers have requested a referendum, a referendum will then be held within one year from that determination. No more than one-fifth of the producers who support having a referendum can be from any one state.

Federal law requires that soybean checkoff dollars must be used to conduct the request for referendum process, and, if desired, a referendum.

In Federal Register

The procedures for the request for referendum were published in the March 23, 2004, issue of the Federal Register. The request for referendum dates were published in the March 25, 2004, issue of the Federal Register.

For more information on the request for referendum procedures, visit www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mpb/rp-soy.htm or contact Kenneth R. Payne, Chief; Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA; STOP 0251; 1400 Independence Ave., S.W.; Washington, D.C. 20250-0251 The telephone number is (202) 720-1115.

USB is made up of 62 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.