In late September during our National Seminar, Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) was hosted by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Corn Marketing Council to a dinner at the Glass Barn— the newest addition to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This Barn offers a farming experience and educational opportunity to visitors. The glass and timber framed structure presents a positive experience to all ages but has a targeted audience for school grades K through 12.
The Glass Barn is made possible by checkoff dollars managed by the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Checkoff money is generated by soybean producers at the first point of sale. Farmers participate in the checkoff program by paying half of one percent of the market price per bushel. Checkoff funds vary each year but average $150 million annually in the United States. Only half of checkoff funds remain in the states where they are collected and managed by producer checkoff boards for local soybean marketing, research and education. The other half is managed on a national level by the United Soybean Board with the same goal.
Corn and soybean producers benefit form the work of both checkoff activities and state associations used for implementing marketing strategies and lobbying for better farm policy. Unlike Virginia commodity groups, the Indiana Soybean Alliance offers two separate services for Indiana soybean producers. In addition to managing soybean checkoff funds, this group has staff and producer committees for Indiana farm policy development and marketing advocacy. Separate funding is generated by membership dues and activities. Special attention is placed with keeping all checkoff funds away from any activity linked to market advocacy, lobbing or policy development. This might be a model to consider for commodity groups in Virginia….