April 26, 2009
The rift within the soybean industry at the national level has filtered down to Nebraska. A new producer group formed by soybean growers in Minnesota, Missouri and Mississippi now has Nebraska as an affiliate state.
The U.S. Soybean Federation organized earlier this year in response to allegations by the American Soybean Association against the United Soybean Board, which manages most expenditures of the national soybean checkoff.
Newly elected USSF president, Warren Stemme of Chesterfield, Mo., says the national group's "one stated policy is support of the current checkoff program."
At ASA's request, USDA's Office of Inspector General agreed to conduct an audit, and possibly an investigation, of the 64-member-director USB, an effort that could take several months. ASA alleges, among other things, misuse of check dollars.
The new producer group believes ASA's accusations undermine the checkoff and what it's accomplished over the years.
Instrumental in forming the Nebraska affiliate is Greg Anderson, a former member of the Nebraska Soybean Board, which administers the state's share of the national checkoff, and former 9-year member and past chairman of the USB. The Newman Grove farmer now serves as the Nebraska Soybean Federation president.
"We are just an infant organization, with probably less than 100 members," says Anderson, who no longer is a member of the Nebraska Soybean Association or ASA. "But we are growing. USSF's commitment to soybean farmers and the current soybean checkoff program made affiliating a logical choice for us."
He says he has not been in contact with members of the Nebraska Soybean Association, the long-standing producer/policy organization that formed in 1969.
Anderson believes that the Office of Inspector General's report will vindicate USB, but that "damage in the countryside among soybean farmers" will remain.
Industry insiders and other agricultural organizations have voiced strong concerns about a splintered soybean industry and what that means to policymakers in Washington, D.C.
Anderson doesn't agree. "Sometimes, more than one policy voice is needed in an organization."
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