Anti-checkoff amendment fails in the House

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) joined the American Soybean Association and its affiliated state soybean associations by commending the U.S. House of Representatives for soundly defeating Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-IN) anti-checkoff amendment by a vote of 49 to 377.

Checkoffs are industry-led organizations that exist to promote agricultural products and support America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers, including U.S. soy producers. Producer checkoff programs are a valuable tool in building new demand and educating on issues that impact the future of farming.

The amendment to the House Ag appropriations bill proposed eliminating funding for USDA to administer national ag promotion programs. ASA and state affiliates joined scores of other ag groups in a letter to House leadership earlier this week in which they vehemently opposed the amendment. Soy leaders also contacted their state Representatives through ASA’s Soy Action Center and phone calls to urge lawmakers to reject the amendment.

MSGA joined the national soy community in rallying its members to advocate against the amendment by using ASA’s Soy Action Center. Following the defeat of the House legislation, farmers can still contact their senators to urge opposition to the ongoing anti-checkoff legislation (Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act) lingering in the Senate.

“As we explained to legislators during our recent visit in September to D.C., the soy checkoff continues to bring substantial value to our operations,” said MSGA Vice President Darin Johnson, who farms in Wells. “We were very pleased to see our members use ASA’s Soy Action Center to urge our elected officials in D.C. to protect the checkoff program by voting against this bill and encourage them to continue using this method of digital advocacy.”

By the numbers: The soy checkoff has overwhelming support from hundreds of thousands of soy farmers across the United States, as proven every five years when the program comes up for referendum. The last request for referendum was held May 2019: Only 708 farmers nationwide requested a referendum (there are more than half a million soy farmers in the U.S.), representing less than 1% (officially 0.13%) of all eligible soybean farmers. This fell far short of the 10% needed to prompt a referendum and demonstrated resounding support for the soy checkoff.

In place since the early ‘90s, the soy checkoff provides U.S. soybean farmers $12.34 in added value at the national level for every dollar they invest in the soy checkoff. Click here for a breakdown from the soy checkoff’s 2019 return-on-investment (ROI) study.

What ASA says: In a news release from ASA sent yesterday after the vote, ASA Preesident and Illinois soybean farmer Daryl Cates said, “Congresswoman Spartz took aim at the entire checkoff system with no regard to the votes of those of us farmers who, time and again, have voted to preserve these programs that allow us to collectively promote our crops, conduct research, develop and protect markets, and assure domestic and global access. I speak for the soy industry today when I say, we are exceptionally pleased this strange amendment was snuffed on the House floor.”

MSGA encourages advocates to continue using the Soy Action Center to urge senators to oppose the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act as an amendment to the Senate “minibus” appropriations package, which includes the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill. 

Follow The Conversation