Not that many years ago Indiana had two soybean statewide organizations. There was the state soybean check-off board, and the Indiana Soybean Growers Association. Members of the association paid dues, and could lobby for or against legislation affecting Indiana soybean producers.
The check-off board received funds from the mandatory check-off that operates under federal guidelines. Since the funds are collected form a wide range of producers, they are designated to be used for the promotion of soybeans through various methods. However, this money can't be used for lobbying purposes to promote a particular issue either for or against, at either the federal or state level.
Visionary leaders saw the efficiency of merging the organizations under one umbrella- the Indiana Soybean Alliance. There are still dues-paying members in the Alliance. Funds collected through dues can be used for lobbying efforts. The idea is to develop and promote public policies that will benefit soybean growers. Some of the activity happens in Washington, some happened in Indianapolis, depending upon the issue under debate.
The distinction is critical now because the nomination process for 2012 elections to the Indiana Soybean Alliance are underway. Learn more about the process and how you can become a candidate at: www.indianasoybean.com .
Once an individual is elected to the Indiana Soybean Alliance Board, he or she can also choose to represent dues-paying members of the Alliance. According to recent figures provided by ISA, there are 800 dues-paying members. Meanwhile, the check-off collects funds from 28,000 farmers who grow soybeans in the state.
The two pots are kept separate in the books of the organization. That's because federal law that allows for the check-off process prohibits ISA or any other soybean organization in any other state from using soybean check-off funds to support policy activities. Money collected through the check-off is specifically earmarked for projects that should improve future use and marketing of soybeans, or contribute to improved production practices. The ISA Board decides exactly how the check-off dollars are spent.For more information, you can also call ISA at : 1-800-735-0195.