The board of directors of the American Soybean Association voted unanimously Tuesday to ask the Secretary of Agriculture to order an Office of Inspector General investigation and financial audit of the National Soybean Checkoff Program.
"Serious ethical, legal, and financial allegations have been raised about how farmer checkoff funds and program activities are being conducted," said ASA President John Hoffman. "These significant allegations have caused ASA to ask the Inspector General to conduct an investigation and audit so that the basis of the allegations can be impartially investigated to find the truth."
Allegations have been made that the United Soybean Board has used checkoff funds for prohibited purposes, potentially evaded mandated salary and spending caps, engaged in conflicts of interest and spent funds in a wasteful and excessive manner. Further allegations have been leveled at the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
"With USB and USSEC, we are dealing with entities that are spending tens of millions per year in soybean farmer checkoff dollars and U.S. taxpayer funds," Hoffman said. "As the policy organization that represents U.S. soybean farmers, it is ASA’s responsibility to ensure that the soybean checkoff, and other entities the checkoff has created, are operating in an accountable and transparent manner in the best interest of soybean farmers."
ASA has shared a summary of its concerns and allegations with state and national soybean leaders and key industry stakeholders. The summary document is also available at www.soygrowers.com/newsroom/releases/documents/summary.pdf.
"ASA does not take this action lightly but with great reluctance," Hoffman said. "ASA must do what is in the best interest of soybean farmers ethically, legally, and financially. ASA believes strongly in the need for a national soybean checkoff program – but one that is accountable, transparent and responsive to soybean farmers, and spends their dollars wisely. Over the coming months, ASA will begin announcing specific steps that it will take to ensure that the national soybean checkoff is accountable to soybean producers and spends their money prudently."