Soybean Promotion and Research Program Background
The Soybean Promotion and Research Order (Order) is authorized by the
Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act [7 U.S.C.
6301-6311]. The Act was passed as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. It
authorized the establishment of a national soybean promotion, research,
and consumer information program. The program became effective on July 9,
1991, when the Order was published. Assessments began September 1, 1991.
As required by the Act, USDA conducted a referendum among soybean
producers on February 9, 1994, to determine whether the program should
continue. Of the 85,906 valid ballots cast, 53.8 percent of soybean
producers voting favored the program. As required by the Act, USDA
conducted a producer poll on July 26, 1995, to determine whether producers
supported conducting a referendum to determine if refunds should continue.
Only 48,782 producers participated in the poll, less than the 76,200
required to cause a refund referendum to be conducted. Refunds were
discontinued on October 1, 1995.
As required by the Act, USDA conducted a producer poll from October 20,
1999 through November 16, 1999. The producer poll is used to determine
whether producers support conducting a referendum that would decide
whether the program should continue. The results of the producer poll were
announced on May 15, 2000. Only 17,970 producers participated in the poll,
less than the 60,082 required to cause a referendum to be conducted.
On July 13, 2004, the USDA announced the results of a soybean request
for referendum. The results showed too few soybean producers wanted a
continuance referendum on the Order. The request for referendum was held
from May 1 through May 28, 2004, at USDAís Farm Service Agency county
offices. If at least 10 percent (not in excess of one-fifth of which can
be producers in any one state) of the 663,880 soybean producers nationwide
had participated in the request for referendum, a referendum would have
been held. Only 3,206 valid requests for a referendum were cast; far short
of the 66,388 required to trigger a referendum.
The programís goal is to strengthen the position of soybeans in the
marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and
uses for soybeans and soybean products. It is funded by a mandatory
assessment of 0.5 of 1 percent of the net market price of soybeans. All
producers marketing soybeans (with the except of Organic producers: See
Organic Exemption from Assessment for more information) must pay the assessment. Assessments under the
national program are used to fund promotional and informational campaigns
and to conduct research with the objective of expanding and improving the
use of soybeans and soybean products. The Act provides for a producer poll
every 5 years to determine whether producers favor conducting a
The program is administered by the United Soybean Board, which has 68
members representing 29 States and 2 combined units. The initial Board was
appointed by the Secretary, from soybean producers nominated by eligible
organizations, for 1-, 2-, or 3-year terms. During each subsequent year,
the Secretary appoints approximately one-third of all Board members for
3-year terms. The Board develops budgets and contracts to carry out a
coordinated program of promotion, research, consumer information, and
industry information. The Boardís office is located in Chesterfield,
Production, Exports, and Imports
In 2007, U.S. farmers harvested 62.8 million acres of soybeans,
producing about 3.2 billion bushels. The average price paid to farmers for
the 2007 soybean crop was $10.40 per bushel.
An economic evaluation of the program was conducted by World
Perspectives, Inc. and Agrilogic, Inc. They estimated a rate-of-return of
$6.75 for every checkoff dollar invested.
Serving on the United Soybean Board
Members of national commodity promotion boards (sometimes called
councils) are nominated by industry and appointed by the Secretary of
Agriculture. They serve a vital role in overseeing board operations. It is
USDA's policy that board membership accurately reflects the diversity of
individuals served by the programs. Therefore, USDA encourages eligible
women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to seek nomination to
serve on the boards and participate in their deliberations. Each year,
approximately 1/3 of the membership of each group must be reappointed.
Generally, members may serve two three-year terms. Some boards also have
United Soybean Board members are nominated by the industry and
appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Members serve a vital role in
overseeing the Soybean Research and Promotion Programís operations.
The Board is currently composed of 68 soybean producers (and 6
alternate board members) from 28 states and two regions (representing
multiple states that are close in proximity). The Soybean Promotion and
Research Order does not state a maximum number of members that can serve
on the United Soybean Board. Rather, the programís statute uses the
following formula based on average soybean production over a five-year
The number of Board members is established according to the number of
bushels of soybeans produced in the state or region; 15,000,000 bushels
for the first Board member and 15,000,000 bushels for each additional
member. States that do not have annual average soybean production equal to
or greater than three million bushels are grouped into geographically
contiguous units, and each unit shall be entitled have at least one
NEXT TERM OF OFFICE: All board members and alternate board members
serve three-year terms. No board member can serve more than three
consecutive three-year terms. Approximately one-third of the Board is
appointed each year.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: In accordance with the statute a nominee to
the United Soybean Board must be a soybean producer.
NOMINATION PROCESS: Nominations for appointments to the Board are made
by USDA approved Qualified State Soybean Boards or eligible organizations
deemed qualified to nominate producers. Such eligibility is based on
criteria established pursuant to the Soybean Promotion, Research and
Consumer Information Act. If no such entity exists in a state, any
organization meeting the eligibility requirements in accordance with the
Act may request eligibility to submit nominations. All nominees are
subject to USDA background review.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: If you would like additional information on the
Soybean Checkoff Program, please contact:
Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed, AMS, USDA
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-0224