The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the results of the request for referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program (soybean checkoff).

USDA received only 759 request for referendum forms at county Farm Service Agency Offices, which reflects approximately one tenth of one percent of all eligible U.S. soybean farmers. Had 10 percent of the 589,182 eligible farmers — with no more than one-fifth of the 10 percent coming from any one state — requested a referendum, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture would have conducted the referendum on the soybean checkoff within 12 months.

USDA requires a soybean checkoff request for referendum period every five years. The most recent period took place from May 4 to May 29.

“These results reaffirm that U.S. soybean farmers strongly support our soybean checkoff,” says USB Chairman Chuck Myers, a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb. “Our effective, efficient and farmer-driven program will continue to strive to maximize the return on investment of each checkoff dollar to ensure that U.S. soy is the highest quality and most competitive in the global marketplace.”

Farmers certifying they paid the checkoff, which is one-half of one percent of the price per bushel sold, at any time during a period beginning Jan. 1, 2007, and ending Dec. 31, 2008, were eligible to participate in the petition for a referendum. Eligible farmers who did not want a referendum did not need to take any action.

USDA requested and approved a notification plan by USB to inform U.S. soybean farmers about the request for referendum period. USB placed paid request for referendum notifications in national agricultural publications and 30 regional and state agricultural publications. USB also distributed the notification to all Qualified State Soybean Boards and the news media. In addition, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Farm Service Agency distributed information about the request for referendum period.

“Farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff are very pleased to have this validation of the effectiveness of the soybean checkoff program,” Myers added. “All leaders within the U.S. soybean industry should join us and the overwhelming majority of U.S. soybean farmers to help ensure ongoing success of the U.S. soybean industry in this increasingly competitive marketplace."

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.