Farmer-leaders of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff met last week to set funding priorities for the 2010 fiscal year. USB directors from across the nation reviewed soybean checkoff programs, discussed strategic approaches for 2010 checkoff programs and set funding levels to protect soybean farmers’ investments well into the future.
An early highlight of the meeting was the unveiling of the 2008 annual audit results. This audit gave the checkoff a clean bill of health on USB financial records for the 2008 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2008. The independent audit’s objective is to test the financial records of the board to determine if the financial position and activities of the board are fairly presented. Such annual audits of the board have been done since USB’s inception.
“The outstanding audit results reflect the seriousness with which our dedicated volunteer checkoff farmer- leaders take their responsibilities,” says Chuck Myers, USB Chairman and a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb. “The entire board takes great pride in these results and remains committed to spending farmer invested checkoff dollars in the wisest manner possible.”
Another highlight of the meeting included Dr. Gary Williams of the Texas Agribusiness Market Research Center at Texas A&M University presenting the results of USB’s return-on-investment study that is performed every five years. The independent study showed the soybean checkoff program returns $6.40 in additional profit to U.S. soybean farmers for every checkoff dollar invested.
According to the study, the checkoff has increased the size and profitability of the U.S. soybean industry since its inception. The checkoff has supported soybean and product prices each year by an average of 2 percent above what the prices would have been without the checkoff program.
“The results of this study should reaffirm for every soybean farmer the importance of their checkoff investments,” says Myers. “Every checkoff dollar being invested is done with the most forward thinking in mind and it’s obvious that our board continues to be effective and efficient in the way we do business.”
At the board meeting, USB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Becherer presented a summary of industry leveraged funds for fiscal year 2008. The figures showed that, in addition to the total 2008 checkoff program funding of nearly $79 million dollars, there was an additional $40 million that was leveraged from industry and other entities.
“Our industry partnerships play a critical role in leveraging additional funds to support checkoff efforts to create demand for U.S. soybeans,” says Becherer. “Bringing our industry partners to the table has allowed for greater collaboration in research and promotion through checkoff programs.”
During the meeting, checkoff farmer-leaders evaluated the long-range strategic priorities of each program area as well as the ability of each program to impact the market.
Efforts by the checkoff will continue in areas such as the development of industrial uses for soy.
The checkoff will remain focused on expanding the inclusion of soy into Asian, North American and European markets.
Checkoff efforts will also focus on supporting the domestic livestock and poultry industries to drive education of the importance of these industries to the U.S. economy and soybean industry.
Supporting the demands of the food industry will remain a top priority in the next fiscal year, with particular emphasis on the edible soybean oil market.
Rounding out priorities for 2010 will be an ongoing commitment to production research and improvements to compositional quality.
USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.