Every five years soybean farmers have the opportunity to request a referendum on their soy checkoff. If USDA determines that 10% of soy growers nationwide have requested a referendum, then USDA will hold the referendum within one year. Farmers can register their requests for referendum at their county FSA office. The following Q&A information further describes the process that farmers must use to request a referendum.
Request for Referendum Q&A
What is the soy checkoff’s request for referendum?
The Soybean Checkoff Act & Order automatically provides farmers the opportunity to request a referendum every five years. If USDA determines that at least 10 percent of U.S. soybean farmers have requested a referendum, then a referendum will be held within one year from that determination. No more than one-fifth of the producers who support having a referendum can be from one state. The last request for referendum period occurred in 2009. At that time, less than one-half of 1 percent of all U.S. soybean farmers signed a request-for-referendum form.
When is the next request-for-referendum period?
The next request period begins May 5, 2014 and continues through May 30, 2014. USDA has not indicated when the final results of the request for referendum will be made public. The results will be announced through an official USDA press release and published in the Federal Register. In addition, USDA will post the official results online.
Who may participate in the request for referendum?
To be eligible to participate, producers must certify they or the entity they are authorized to represent paid an assessment at some time between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013. Documentation for that assessment, such as sales receipts showing that the checkoff was collected, will be required up front when submitting the request form. The number of eligible soybean producers is 569,998. USDA determined this number by using Farm Service Agency (FSA) data from 2011 and 2012. Producers who do not want a referendum to take place do not need to take any action.
How can farmers participate?
Eligible producers who want to indicate their support for a referendum will be required to participate in person, by facsimile or by mail-in request at their county FSA office. The process requires producers to complete and sign form LS-51-1 and provide documentation, such as a sales receipt, at the time a request is made. The document must provide proof that the producer, corporation or other entity has paid assessments on soybeans at least once between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013.
FSA is then responsible for determining a producer’s eligibility. If FSA cannot determine the producer’s eligibility or if the producer fails to submit documentation, then FSA will notify the ineligible person in writing. Producers who do not participate in FSA programs may obtain a Form LS-51-1 at the county FSA office where the producer owns or rents land. This form may also be obtained via the Internet.
Producers may obtain a form in person, by mail or by facsimile from May 5, 2014 through May 30, 2014. FSA will have until June 11, 2014, to notify ineligible producers in writing. If FSA determines in writing that producer ineligibility is due to lack of documentation submitted (sales receipts or other relevant documents), the producer can appeal and provide the required documentation to FSA. The required documentation must be received by FSA by June 18, 2014, when FSA will make a final decision on eligibility.
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