The USDA has announced that it will not conduct a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program (soybean checkoff). USDA received 3,206 signed request for referendum forms, which is less than half of one percent of all the eligible soybean producers at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.
If the agency had received 10% of the 663,880 eligible producers - with no more than one-fifth of the 10% coming from any one state - requested a referendum, the Secretary of Agriculture would have conducted the referendum within 12 months.
"We work hard at the United Soybean Board to try to make the right decisions on behalf of all producers," says USB Chairman Criss Davis, a soybean farmer from Shullsburg, Wis. "We feel really good about the results from the poll for referendum that less than half a percent of producers signed the poll. We think that' s a real positive sign that we are doing the right things, on behalf of soybean farmers in the U.S."
The request for referendum determined whether U.S. soybean producers wanted a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Program. USDA selected a request period for a soybean checkoff referendum from May 3, 2004, to May 28, 2004. The Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act requires that the Secretary of Agriculture provide soybean producers the opportunity to request a referendum every five years.
Notification of the request for referendum process is the responsibility of USB. USB placed a request for referendum notification in three national agricultural publications, 12 regional agricultural publications and 20 state agricultural publications, and ran public service announcements on AgriTalk, a nationally syndicated agricultural radio program. USB also distributed the notification to all Qualified State Soybean Boards and agricultural print and broadcast news media. AMS and FSA also distributed communications on the soybean checkoff request for referendum.
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.