1. How was the Soybean Checkoff program established?
The Soybean Promotion and Research Order (Order) is authorized by the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act (Act) [7 U.S.C. 6301-6311]. The Act was passed as part of the 1990 Farm Bill and authorized the establishment of a national soybean promotion, research, and consumer information program. The program became effective on July 9, 1991, when the Order was published. Assessments began September 1, 1991.
2. Who administers the program?
The program is administered by the United Soybean Board (Board), which has 73 members representing 29 States and 2 combined units. Members of the Board are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary). The Board develops budgets and contracts to carry out a coordinated program of promotion, research, consumer information, and industry information. The Board’s office is located in Chesterfield, Missouri.
3. What is the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) role in the program?
USDA has two basic roles under the Act. The first role is to assist with the implementation of the Act, which includes preparing and publishing in the Federal Register rules and regulations, referendum rules, and other required documents. The second role is to oversee the program’s activities conducted by the Board to ensure that they comply with the law.
4. What is a Request for Referendum?
A Request for Referendum is an opportunity for producers to say they would like to be offered a referendum on the program. If the results of the Request for Referendum indicate there are not enough producers wanting a referendum, a referendum will not be conducted. Participation is voluntary, and only individuals who desire a referendum on the Soybean Checkoff Program should participate.
5. When and where will the Request for Referendum be conducted?
The Request for Referendum will be conducted May 6, 2019, through May 31, 2019, at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. Individual producers and authorized entity representatives may participate at the county FSA office where there entity’s administrative farm records are maintained. Producers that do not participate in FSA programs can participate at the FSA office located in the county where the producer owns or rents land. To find your county FSA office, contact the state FSA office or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/stateOffices?area=stoffice&subject-landing&….
6. Who will participate in the Request for Referendum?
Only those persons who are eligible to participate and favor a referendum on the Soybean Checkoff Program should participate. Those persons who do not desire a referendum on the Soybean Checkoff Program would not participate in the Request for Referendum. Participating in the Request for Referendum is voluntary.
7. Who is “eligible” to participate?
Producers must certify that they or the entity they are authorized to represent paid an assessment at some time between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018. Each producer entity is entitled to only one request. Any group of individuals, such as families, joint tenants, a partnership, or a corporation as a producer entity may only make one request for a referendum. However, any individual who is an eligible producer separate from the group may request a referendum separately.
8. What will I need to fill out?
To request a referendum, a producer will complete Form LS–51–1, Soybean Promotion and Research Order Request for Referendum and provide supporting documentation showing that soybean assessments were paid during the representative period. Form LS-51-1 may be obtained by mail, fax, or in person from FSA county offices or on our soybean webpage during the Request for Referendum period. Completed forms and supporting documentation must be returned to the appropriate county FSA office by fax or in person no later than close of business May 31, 2019; or if returned by mail, must be postmarked by midnight May 31, 2019, and received in the county FSA office by close of business on June 6, 2019.
9. What will determine whether or not USDA will conduct a Referendum?
If at least 10 percent of eligible producers request a referendum, with no more than one fifth being producers in any one State, USDA will conduct a referendum within 1 year from that determination. If results of the Request for Referendum indicate that a referendum is not supported, a referendum would not be conducted.
10. When will the results be announced and how?
USDA will likely announce the results in July or August of 2019. USDA will publish a press release and issue a notice in the Federal Register announcing the results of the Request for Referendum. The results will also be posted on the soybean webpage.
11. Can eligible soybean farmers request a soybean checkoff referendum beyond May 31, 2019?
No. In order to be counted as a valid request, eligible producers must ensure that request form (LS-51-1) and accompanying documentation is delivered in person or by fax, to the appropriate County FSA office no later than May 31, 2019. If returned by mail, request form (LS-51-1) and accompanying documentation must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2019 and received at the appropriate county FSA office by close of business on June 6, 2019.
12. Why is there a soybean checkoff Request for Referendum period every 5 years?
The Act requires the Secretary to conduct a Request for Referendum every 5 years after the initial referendum, which was conducted in 1994. The previous Request for Referendum was conducted in 2014. Soybean producers who are interested in having a referendum to determine whether to continue the soybean checkoff program are invited to participate.
13. If QSSBs or soybean farmers want to contact someone at USDA about the soybean checkoff Request for Referendum, who should they contact and how can they contact them?
For more information, contact the Research and Promotion Division; Livestock and Poultry Program, AMS, USDA; STOP 0251 - Room 2608-S; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW.; Washington, D.C. 20250-0251; tel. (202) 720-1118; or via email at Sarah.Aswegan@usda.gov.