Washington, D.C. Sept. 27, 2023. The American Soybean Association and all 26 affiliated state soybean associations are pleased members of the U.S. House of Representatives have batted down Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-IN) amendment to the Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act by a vote of 49 to 377. The amendment aimed fire at commodity checkoff programs and was vehemently opposed by the soy industry and others. ASA is the national group representing soy on policy issues, and likewise, state affiliates represent the 30 primary soy-growing states throughout the country. The soy policy organizations joined scores of other ag groups in a letter to House leadership earlier this week in answer to the amendment, vehemently opposing it.
Daryl Cates, soybean farmer from Illinois and ASA President said, “Congresswoman Spartz took aim at the entire checkoff system with no regard to the votes of those of us farmers who, time and again, have voted to preserve these programs that allow us to collectively promote our crops, conduct research, develop and protect markets, and assure domestic and global access. I speak for the soy industry today when I say, we are exceptionally pleased this strange amendment was snuffed on the House floor.”
The soy checkoff has overwhelming support from hundreds of thousands of soy farmers across the United States, as proven every five years when the program comes up for referendum. The last request for referendum was held May 2019: Only 708 farmers nationwide requested a referendum (there are more than half a million soy farmers in the U.S.), representing less than 1% (officially 0.13%) of all eligible soybean farmers. This fell far short of the 10% needed to prompt a referendum and demonstrated resounding support for the soy checkoff.
In place since the early ‘90s, the soy checkoff provides U.S. soybean farmers $12.34 in added value at the national level for every dollar they invest in the soy checkoff. Also determined in the soy checkoff’s 2019 return-on-investment (ROI) study:
• International promotion activities produced $17.95 in return value.
• Demand-enhancing research and promotion returned an average value of $18.18.
• Production research returned an average value of $9.42.
• Farmers received even more value through state checkoff activities.
Checkoff programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and overseen by the farmers and ranchers who vote in favor of checkoff systems to promote specific commodities. By promoting their agricultural products, checkoffs ensure future generations of farmers can build or maintain their livelihoods in agriculture. The soy checkoff’s self-imposed levy applies to all U.S. soybean farmers and is one half (1/2) of 1% of the market price of each bushel of soybeans sold each season. Those funds are used to build demand, find new markets, and improve the profitability prospects for all soy farmers. Soy checkoff dollars are split among the national organization and state checkoff programs, or qualified state soybean boards.