USDA to Investigate Soybean Checkoff Allegations

Kansas Viewpoint

Ag Secretary announces that the Office of the Inspector General will move forward.

Published on: January 8, 2009

The USDA Office of Inspector General will conduct an audit and, as appropriate, investigation of the National Soybean Checkoff Program based on a petition requesting investigation filed by the American Soybean Association in early December, USDA secretary Ed Schafer said Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in day, ASA president Johnny Dodson told Kansas soybean producers at the annual Kansas Soybean Expo in Topeka that the ASA was simply looking out for the best interests of growers when it petitioned the USDA to investigate the National Soybean Checkoff program, the United Soybean Board and the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

"This is not an anti-checkoff effort," Dodson said. "We support the checkoff. This is about making sure that the checkoff is transparent and responsible."

The charges included:

  • Use of a knife against another individual by an employee at an official function
  • An improper sexual relationship disrupting the management of the Japan foreign office and jeopardizing U.S. soy exports to that market
  • The misuse of checkoff and federal funds to facilitate the improper relationship
  • No-bid contracting violations
  • A one-sided investigation and white-washing of these actions
  • The firing of whistleblower employees
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Potential evasions of salary and administrative caps established in the national soybean checkoff act
  • Improper and wasteful expenditure of checkoff funds

What is your take on this controversy? Is investigation the right move? Can the organization move past this issue?

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