USDA's Office of Inspector General has found "insufficient evidence" to support allegations brought by the American Soybean Association against the United Soybean Board, the U.S. Soybean Export Council and the law firm of McLeod, Watkins & Miller.
The investigation started when ASA leaders submitted a petition to former USDA Secretary Ed Schafer in December 2008, alleging, among other things, misuse of funds on feeding trials in Europe and what ASA described as "potential evasion" of salary and administrative caps, along with "excessive spending."
United Soybean Board Chairman Phil Bradshaw says the 68-member USB is encouraged by the IG's findings and looks forward to giving its undivided attention to building demand for U.S. soybeans and soy products.
"I think it just reinforces what we've known all along that we were doing a good program," Bradshaw said. "Everything showed that we monitor this very closely, and I think it reassures us like any other review, or any audit does that makes us feel comfortable with where we are."
Bradshaw says he harbors no hard feelings towards ASA and its leadership.
"I have a good relationship with Rob Joslin, president of ASA," Bradshaw said. "We've been communicating very well; I think we'll move forward in whatever's the best interest of the U.S. soybean farmers and the industry. I don't think this will be any major setback to us."
The Inspector General did recommend closer oversight by USB of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Steps have already been taken as during the review, substantial management and board changes were made USSEC. The CEO was placed on administrative leave and the board of directors has been restructured. As a result of those changes, the Checkoff Board believes soybean farmer interests are being better served.