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Corn+Soybean Digest

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

It's unfortunate that the bickering between two producer groups like the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the United Soybean Board (USB), which oversees your soybean checkoff dollars, has escalated into what at press time will likely be a full-fledged USDA investigation.

Wouldn't there have been some way to resolve this without bringing a judge and jury like USDA and the Office of Inspector General into the picture? How did it get to this point?

FOR A BRIEF overview of the allegations by ASA of wrongdoing by USB, see “ASA Calls For Checkoff Investigation,” page 16.

While a pending investigation ensues into determining whether there's been wasteful spending of checkoff funds, both groups have big fish to fry, especially with the current worldwide financial crisis. Keeping foreign markets open and credit flowing should be a top priority.

“The main thing I'm concerned about is that this is going to eat up soybean farmers' time and resources,” says Chuck Myers, USB chairman and farmer from Lyons, NE. “Still, we're absolutely moving ahead, getting things rolling on future projects and meetings.”

The petition filed with USDA is 13 pages with an additional 50-60 pages of substantiating evidence to corroborate the allegations, says John Hoffman, ASA chairman and farmer from Waterloo, IA.

“We need to lift this cloud of suspicion over the checkoff, and an independent investigation from our perspective is the best way to proceed,” he says.

Whatever it takes to make this investigative process move ahead quickly will be in the best interests of checkoff-paying soybean growers. (The national checkoff share of collections for fiscal year 2008 is approximately $67.25 million.)

Let's hope for a speedy resolution and that both ASA and USB keep their eye on the ball — and not spend time airing dirty laundry.

HIGH FIVE TO TYLER BRUCH

We'd like to give our Brazil columnist Tyler Bruch heartfelt congratulations for being part of a winning business and financial reporting Emmy award. He was recently featured in a segment called “Field of Dreams,” produced by CNBC Business Nation. Camera crews shot on-farm footage at his operations in Bahia, Brazil and Emmetsburg, IA, plus they shadowed him during Commodity Classic in Nashville. To watch the segment that won the award, check the Web at: www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=740233500&play=1.p

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