Members of the American Soybean Association have met with Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer to lobby for an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General into the United Soybean Board's use of checkoff dollars. Outgoing ASA President John Hoffman says the purpose of the meeting was to answer any questions about the allegations that USB spent checkoff and federal funding in wasteful and improper ways and try to get an investigation moving forward.
"The timeline is still up in the air; we've been told that it could be a few months or it could be a year," Hoffman said. "All we're asking for is a thorough, careful investigation of all of our allegations."
In addition to the charges concerning spending, ASA also says USB has exhibited improper oversight and tolerance of actions that have occurred at the U.S. Soybean Export Council. USB officials have denied the truth in any of the allegations.
"The United Soybean Board is aware of the allegations made by the American Soybean Association against USB regarding mismanagement of farmer checkoff dollars," said newly elected USB Chairman Chuck Myers. "We have pledged our full cooperation to Secretary Schafer if the USDA Office of Inspector General deems it necessary to undertake an investigation and audit of USB operations. Although we believe it would be premature to respond at this time, USB will respond to the OIG with respect to all of these allegations raised by ASA."
Myers went on to say that the 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff take their fiduciary responsibility very seriously and, as stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for their actions on behalf of USB and the soybean checkoff.