Leaders of the American Soybean Association addressed questions about the USDA Office of Inspector General's investigation of the United Soybean Board during a press conference at the 2009 Commodity Classic in Grapevine, Texas.
Johnny Dodson, ASA president from Halls, Tenn., said the completion of the investigation, which ASA sought, could take several months or up to a year.
ASA filed a petition with USDA on Dec. 10, 2008, calling for the investigation of USB to "ensure soybean checkoff dollars are being managed and invested as prescribed by law." In early January, USDA agreed to conduct the investigation.
"It will be a good thing for the soybean industry if it restores transparency in how checkoff monies are spent," said John Hoffman, ASA chairman and soybean producer from Waterloo, Iowa.
On a somewhat related matter, Hoffman responded to a question about the newly formed U.S. Soybean Federation, a second grower policy organization formed by the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Missouri Soybean Association.
Hoffman said there are many members of those two organizations that remain in good standing with ASA. "We expect these members will renounce the new soybean federation. We have been told by policy makers in Washington, D.C. that there needs to be one strong voice for soybean growers, and that voice is the American Soybean Association.
On another key issue, Dodson said ASA is concerned about the projected small calf crop this year, reduced numbers of other livestock species and the estimated increase in soybean acres in 2009. "It concerns us," he said. "Animal agriculture is an integral part of our pricing. We must defend animal ag."
He said the grain and soybean industry must come together with animal agriculture to ward of increasing attempts to regulate livestock by such groups and the Human Society of the United States. HSUS is a well-funded organization that raises $120 million to $150 million a year. "They are out to end animal agriculture," Dodson said. "They aren't picking up stray cats and dogs along the street."