USDA has offered to provide "mediation" between the United Soybean Board, the organization which oversees the soybean checkoff, and the American Soybean Association, the lobbying arm of national soybean producers.
In December 2008, ASA requested an Office of Inspector General investigation and financial audit of the National Soybean Checkoff Program, particularly the USB and the U.S. Soybean Export Council to ensure that soybean checkoff dollars were being managed and invested as prescribed by law.
The USB Executive Committee discussed Friday, Sept. 4, USDA's offer for providing mediation. The committee agreed to recommend that USB's full board move forward with a mediation process, "but only under very specific parameters for discussion as well as issues to be mediated," a statement from USB said.
Members of the USB Executive Committee requested a face-to-face meeting with USDA officials. This will allow USB to gain a better understanding of the exact parameters for discussion, issues to be discussed and the process USDA plans to carry out these discussions.
USB Chairman Chuck Myers, a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb., said, "As we previously communicated with USDA, we remain very uncomfortable with positioning this process in such adversarial terms as 'mediation.'"
The consensus of USB Executive Committee members was to recommend to the full board to move forward with the proposed mediation once checkoff farmer-leaders fully understand all the issues and parameters. That information will then be shared with the full USB board to make an informed decision on behalf of every soybean farmer in this country.