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SPA reminds farmers only two days left To participate in soybean check-off vote

(Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Soybean Producers of America news release:
Contact: Harvey Joe Sanner (501) 516-7000 HJSanner@aol.com

Des Arc, Ark. -- May 26, 2004 -- Harvey Joe Sanner, Executive Director of the Soybean Producers of America (SPA) is reminding U.S. soybean producers that they have an opportunity to exercise their right to request a referendum on the federal Soybean Promotion and Research Program. "Soybean producers must request Form LS-51-1 from their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or obtain such a form online at http://www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mpb/rp-soy.htm . by May 28th in order to request a referendum on the federal soybean check-off program, "says Sanner.

Producers may obtain Form LS-51-1 in person, by mail or by facsimile by May 28, 2004. Mail-in requests must be postmarked by May 28, 2004 and received in the county FSA office by June 7, 2004. Producers also need to attach documentation such as sales receipts to the form showing that the producer, corporation or other entity paid assessments on soybeans during the period from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2003.

Sanner reminds farmers that the federal Soybean Promotion and Research Program includes a provision for an automatic review of the soybean check-off program every five years. "Only those producers who desire a referendum will participate and participation is voluntary," said Sanner. "Farmers need to consider the fact that this opportunity to request a referendum on the soybean check-off program is one of the few serious chances they have for providing input if they are concerned about how their check-off funds are spent. We all know that commodity check-off programs at least indirectly promote current U.S. farm and trade policy and if the current so-called free trade policies concern farmers they should speak up."

Dan McGuire, SPA Chairman points out that soybean prices have been relatively strong due to serious yield reductions in the 2003 U.S. soybean crop and the 2004 South American crop. "Soybean prices can drop right back to $4.00 per bushel almost overnight if world production increases to previously projected levels or demand drops due international economic problems. Then U.S. farmers will be more dependent on farm program support and federal farm policy will be a critical economic survival factor. Farmers should not count on Mother Nature to override current low price-oriented farm policy very often by delivering stronger prices.

Sanner added, "If U.S. soybean producers are concerned about the direction that the U.S.-driven World Trade Organization (WTO) low commodity price agenda is taking American agriculture, they need to take every opportunity to speak up by requesting a soybean referendum. If U.S. farmers are concerned about federal policies that allow for the importation of soybean meal and products from South America that may be contaminated with the economically disastrous Asian Soybean Rust they need to express their concerns by requesting a soybean referendum. Furthermore, if U.S. farmers feel that their soybean check-off dollars are being used to promote an agribusiness-friendly farm and trade policy rather than farmer-rural-economy-oriented farm and trade policy they should take their democratic role seriously. Requesting a referendum by completing and submitting Form LS-51-1 to their local FSA office is a once-in-five-year chance for that."

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