ASA requests USB, USSEC investigation

The USDA Inspector General will audit and maybe even investigate allegations, very serious allegations, made by American Soybean Association against the United Soybean Board and the US Soybean Export Council.
By Ron Kotrba | January 14, 2009
On Jan. 7, the American Soybean Association announced it was advised by USDA that Secretary Schafer had signed a memorandum recommending that the office of the Inspector General conduct an audit and, if necessary, an investigation of the National Soybean Checkoff Program. This decision was based on a petition filed by ASA on Dec. 10, 2008, calling for USDA to investigate the United Soybean Board and the US Soybean Export Council to ensure soybean checkoff funds estimated at $140 million in 2008 are handled appropriately.

The list the disturbing and seedy list of allegations made by ASA include the "use of a knife against another by an employee at an official function; an improper sexual relationship disrupting the management of the Japan foreign office and jeopardizing US soy exports to that market; the misuse of checkoff and federal funds to facilitate the improper sexual relationship; no-bid contracting violations; a one-sided investigation and white-washing of these actions; the firing of whistleblower employees; conflicts of interest; potential evasions of salary and administrative caps established in the national soybean checkoff act; improper and wasteful expenditure of checkoff funds."

ASA president Johnny Dodson says they're all good people, those who are involved, and they are soybean folk like he is; but "somehow there has been a breakdown in the system that cannot be allowed to continue."

The federal government has the authority to investigate because the soybean checkoff was created by an act of Congress in 1991; therefore the program is open to government investigation.

A half a percent of a bushel of soybeans goes to the checkoff program, and the record $140 million this year was from the ballooning of soybean prices in 2008.

Corruption can seep its ugly way into the seemingly most sterile of circumstances, but the core issue goes back to the timeless, fundamental character flaws we all possess as humans that some people manage to control or subdue better than others. Euphoria, avarice, insatiability and invincibility from wealth, power and influence; or jealousy, resent, revenge, lust everyone is susceptible to succumb to these emotions. It is more of a tragedy though when hardworking farmer dollars are allegedly spent covering up, or whitewashing, such things. And who knows how much more money will be spent on the investigation. I also wonder how impacted our relationships with foreign markets might be affected in the short and long term.

I used to collect comic books when I was a kid, and Spiderman was always my favorite. "With great power comes great responsibility."