The seemingly endless argument between the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the United Soybean Board (USB) has escalated this morning. ASA has formally asked the Secretary of Agriculture to order the USDA Inspector General to open an investigation into "serious allegations of abuse, wasteful spending, and mismanagement” by USB.
In a summary document of the formal complaint sent to the secretary the ASA outlines a list of eight specific allegations that include wasteful spending, use of checkoff funds for prohibited purposes, and excessive spending by USB for self-promotion and self preservation.”
The fight between ASA and USB goes back years, but reached a fevered pitch at the 2008 Commodity Classic when many members of ASA called for a restructuring of USB. That vote failed, but the voting delegate body did approve a proposal that asked "ASA to ensure that the national soybean checkoff fulfills the original vision, purpose, and goals that were envisioned when the national soybean checkoff was enacted.”
In an ASA news release, Waterloo, Iowa, farmer and ASA President John Hoffman says, "Serious ethical, legal, and financial allegations have been raised about how farmer checkoff funds and program activities are being conducted. These significant allegations have caused ASA to ask the Inspector General to conduct an investigation and audit so that the basis of the allegations can be impartially investigated to find the truth."
Hoffman goes on to say, "ASA believes the national soybean checkoff, as currently structured and operated, is no longer responsive and accountable to soybean farmers. The failure of USB leaders to take decisive action on these particular matters is indicative of how USB is no longer accountable and responsive to the very soybean farmers who are paying funds into the checkoff program."
USB responded to this morning's announcement by saying it has nothing to hide and "if the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) deems it necessary, USB welcomes a USDA Office of Inspector General audit of it s operations, contractor operations and projects.”
Read the official releases: