South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint would like to make checkoff programs voluntary and is looking to do so with an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill. The American Soybean Association has joined agricultural stakeholder groups from all corners of the industry to express opposition to the amendment. ASA and its colleagues wrote Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts – calling on them to oppose the measure. According to the letter – producers have funded over 905-million dollars of research, promotion and consumer education programs annually through checkoff activities at no cost to the federal government. Producers should be commended – the letter continues – and deserve the support of Congress.
ASA President and Nebraska soybean farmer Steve Wellman says the checkoff is not a tax. He says they cost the government nothing – but allow farmers to invest their own dollars in research, building markets and creating new uses for soy. Wellman says even USDA oversight of the checkoff is funded by soybean farmers.
According to the American Soybean Association – demand for U.S. soy has soared since the checkoff was established in 1992. The annual value of soybeans has more than tripled, exports have more than doubled and soy biodiesel has grown to a one-billion gallon industry. Wellman says it’s all added up to a strong return of $6.40 in increased profit for every dollar invested.