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Survey provides direction for soy checkoff

Three of every four soybean farmers in America support their checkoff, according to a recent soybean checkoff-funded survey, information vital to farmer-leaders serving on the United Soybean Board.

“There’s nothing more important than direct input from our fellow farmers when it comes to investing checkoff dollars,” says Ike Boudreaux, USB chairman and a soybean farmer from Lebeau, La.

“We have a number of avenues to gain insight from farmers and our yearly surveys … provide a grade card to let us know how we are doing and what moves we can make to meet the changing needs of our industry.”

When it comes to the survey, farmers were asked about biodiesel, production issues, developing new uses for soy, support of the livestock industry, development of healthier beans and international marketing.

Overall, support for the checkoff continued at the same level as it has been the last two years, 75 percent with two out of every three responding that they were at least somewhat familiar with details and specifics of the checkoff.

Generally the results reflected the effectiveness of the board’s communication efforts with farmer audiences. Results indicate 63 percent of the farmers are familiar with the interests of the checkoff.

Other results regarding checkoff programs include the following:

• Soy biodiesel use was at 58 percent in the survey, up 8 percent from 2007.

• Close to 90 percent of farmers agreed the soybean checkoff funded soy-based products.

• Nearly 80 percent of those farmers could name a specific soy-based product.

• 81 percent of farmers thought the checkoff expanded international markets, up 9 percent.

• Farmers thought plant research was important as 76 percent thought the checkoff improved new advances and techniques to develop pest and disease-resistant varieties.

• 78 percent of farmers support the growth of livestock operations.

The survey was completed Feb. 18 and soybean checkoff farmer-leaders were briefed during their recent board meeting. The survey helps keep directors informed of priorities soybean farmers feel should be considered by the board as it makes funding decisions.

“Even though our recent survey has been completed, we welcome additional input regarding our efforts,” says Boudreaux. “Surveying the minds of farmers across the 29 soybean-producing states … has never been more important and we will keep an open eye and ear to the needs of our fellow farmers.”

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.

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