Checkoff Return on Investment

Updated: January 28, 2020

Current Situation

Once every five years, the soy checkoff is required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to undergo analysis of the economic effectiveness of the program to demonstrate its benefit to U.S. soybean farmers and other checkoff stakeholders.

The independent economic study, which analyzed the demand- and supply-enhancing activities funded by the soy checkoff between 2014 and 2018, was conducted by Dr. Harry Kaiser at Cornell University. Dr. Kaiser is a leading research expert in the field of agricultural economics and its application to commodity checkoff programs.

The study observed and analyzed the four main activities of the United Soybean Board, which include domestic soybean and soy-product promotion; foreign market development; demand-enhancing research for soybeans and soy products; and production-enhancing research for soybeans and soy products. The return-on-investment (ROI) estimates were reached using econometric models of domestic and international soybean markets that allowed the research team to net out the impacts of other important factors — such as other crops, substitute commodities, income, exchange rates and economic conditions in importing countries — to determine the estimated impact of the soy checkoff’s work and investments.

Why the Checkoff Cares

This study matters to the checkoff for two main reasons. First, the study measures the impact activities and programs of USB have toward the goals to increase consumption of U.S. soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil both domestically and internationally. Secondly, the study measures the benefits of USB activities in terms of incremental profitability for the soybean industry as a whole and compares the benefits to the costs of this work. The study holistically calculates the rate of ROI for U.S. soybean farmers and other stakeholders — providing both transparency and benchmarks for checkoff success.

Key Points

  • The soy checkoff provides significant value to farmers by leveraging checkoff funds in investments and programs to build preference for U.S. soy across the country and around the world. Per USDA, the soy checkoff is required to carry out an independent economic evaluation of the ROI provided by the program every five years.
  • The most recent study was completed by Cornell University in 2019.
  • For every dollar farmers invested in the soy checkoff over the last five years (2014-2018), all U.S. soybean farmers received an estimated $12.34 in added value.
  • The soy checkoff invests in work to increase and protect soybean yields, improve sustainability and deliver a better soybean to meet end-user needs in order to increase farmer profitability.
  • USB is proud of the investments made by farmers through the soy checkoff that continuously add value to the industry — particularly during recent difficult seasons and market conditions.
  • USB, the U.S. Soybean Export Council and other partners work closely together on key issues while coordinating with qualified state soybean boards (QSSBs) to build profit opportunities for the industry.

Facts & Figures

  • From 2014 to 2018, the soy checkoff collected approximately $100 million annually to fund national and international supply and demand stimulation programs.
  • The most recent study showed an increase in farmer returns compared to the last study conducted in 2014 — moving from $5 to $12.34 in added value.
  • International investments showed high returns, with every dollar U.S. soybean farmers invested in international promotion activities producing $17.95 in return value.
  • Investments made toward demand-enhancing research and development, such as work done in industrial uses of soybean meal and oil or high oleic soybeans, returned an average value of $18.18.
  • Collaborative soy checkoff investments in production research that leverage industry and academic partners continue to provide promising returns to U.S. soybean farmers, returning an average value of $9.42.
  • Continued investments in soybean production research has led to a 7.7% increase in soybean supply over the last five years.
  • Investments in soybean meal and oil demand have led to a 1.2% increase in meal demand and a 2% increase in oil demand.
  • USB investments and partnerships with USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service and QSSBs in the export market contributed to the overall soybean demand in the export market, growing by 16.3%.
  • Soybean meal exports grew by 17.6% and soybean oil exports by 31.2% in the last five years with support from USB investments and partnerships with USDA-FAS and QSSBs

Other Resources