Soybean Promotion and Research Program Background Information

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.

Major Provisions

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 continuance referendum.

Organizational Structure

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, Missouri.

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.

Economic Evaluation

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 alternate members.

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 period.

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 member.

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:

Kenneth Payne
Branch Chief
Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed, AMS, USDA
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Stop 0251
Washington, DC 20250-0224
PH. 202-720-1115