Definition of Terminology
- Conflict of Interest: exists if a Director has relationships with any person who is transacting or may transact business with the QSSB. Conflicts of interest occur when Directors are involved in multiple interests and have conduct, reporting, oversight, review and decision-making responsibilities and can use these responsibilities to personally benefit from decisions made.
- Confidentiality of Information: is the nondisclosure of QSSB information except to another authorized person. Such information is entrusted with the confidence through another party.
- Code of Ethics: a set of principles of conduct within an organization that guide decision making and behavior. The purpose is to provide staff with guidelines for making ethical choices in the conduct of their work.
- Harassment: covers a wide range of offensive behavior intended to disturb, upset or threaten another person. Sexual Harassment refers to persistent and unwanted sexual advances with the consequences of refusing being disadvantageous to the victim.
- Whistleblower: person who reports alleged dishonest or illegal activities (misconduct) occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company to authorities. Alleged misconduct may be a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations and corruption.
The QSSB is committed to maintaining a positive, constructive working environment where all Directors and staff feel comfortable. Accordingly, the Board will not tolerate harassment committed by any staff or Director. Any person who commits harassment will be subject to discipline, including dismissal or removal.
Directors or staff may not:
- Make unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or engage in other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature;
- Make submission to, or rejection of, such conduct the basis for employment or other decisions affecting the staff or Director; or
- Engage in conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment for staff or Director.
a. Sexual harassment may take many forms, including, but not limited to:
i. Unwanted physical or verbal sexual advances or propositions;
ii. Making employment or other benefits contingent upon sexual favors;
b. Leering, whistling, making sexual gestures, displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters;
c. Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, innuendos or jokes;
d. Making comments about an individual’s body, appearance, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies or using sexually demeaning words to describe an individual;
e. Sending suggestive or obscene letters, notes or email; and
f. Touching, pinching, assaulting, impeding or blocking movement.
- Any person who believes that they have been harassed, including sexual harassment, or has witnessed such harassment, may directly inform the offending person that the conduct is offensive and must stop. If, however, a person is not comfortable confronting the offender, he or she should promptly report the conduct to any Officer or the Executive Director.
- The QSSB will promptly and thoroughly investigate all harassment complaints. The investigation may include interviews with the parties involved and, if necessary, any persons who may have relevant knowledge about the alleged conduct.
- To protect the privacy of all persons involved, QSSB will keep a complaint confidential throughout the investigation to the extent practicable and appropriate under the circumstances.
- In addition, the Compliance Officers (Position(s) identified – e.g Chairperson, Executive Director, etc) are responsible for ensuring the reporting of allegations to USB and the USDA of any complaints of violations of the provisions of the Act & Order or harassment as detailed in this policy.
A person may not retaliate against any person who reports any alleged harassment or provides information as part of an investigation. A person subject to retaliation should report the conduct immediately. The QSSB will take appropriate disciplinary action.
The QSSB will take prompt and appropriate action with respect to any conduct that constitutes harassment. Staff may be subject to disciplinary action, including, without limitation, warnings, reprimands, suspension without pay, compensation adjustments or termination. A Director will be dealt with in a manner calculated to end any offensive conduct and prevent future misconduct. If appropriate, the Director will be removed.
Violations or suspected violations may be submitted on a confidential basis by the complainant or may be submitted anonymously. The QSSB will keep a complaint confidential throughout the investigation to the extent practicable and appropriate under the circumstances.
Code of Ethics
QSSB Code of Ethics
We are dedicated to show:
a. Respect for the people we work with and serve.
b. Integrity in our actions.
c. Responsibility for our decisions and their consequences. We are committed to:
- Acknowledge the importance of state soybean checkoff organizations as part of the national checkoff program. It is the goal of the United Soybean Board to partner effectively with the Qualified State Soybean Boards for the benefit of U.S. soybean producers.
- Act honestly, truthfully and with integrity in all our transactions and dealings.
- Avoid conflicts of interest and the appropriate handling of actual or apparent conflicts of interest in our relationships.
- Treat our fellow Directors fairly and to treat every individual with dignity and respect.
- Comply with both the spirit and letter of the law.
- Be a responsible representative of the soybean farmers of the United States and (insert name of state).
- Demonstrate the organization’s mission and values in our decision making.
- Initiate and promote discussion of controversial issues affecting the industry and organization.
- Provide insight on how issues under discussion may affect the State or Region represented.
- Respect the confidentiality of sensitive information known due to board service
- Act responsibly toward the State or Region we represent with a cooperative effort for the united benefit of the soybean farmers in the checkoff program.
- Treat our staff with respect, fairness and good faith, and to provide conditions of employment that safeguard their rights and welfare.
- Show commitment to cooperation, collaboration and partnership with soybean organizations that represent the farmers.
- Promote continuous improvement in the accountability, transparency, ethical conduct and the effectiveness of the QSSB.
We are committed to:
- Associate with persons as defined herein in a manner that would impair the QSSB’s independence or integrity;
- Disclose information not authorized for release obtained through their position as a Director; or
- Accept gifts or discounts from related organizations without disclosure.
- Conflict of interest exists if a Director has a relationship with any person who is transacting or may transact business with the QSSB. A relationship from his or her immediate family gives rise to a potential conflict of interest if that family member:
- Is or has been a Director, Officer or staff of an organization/person that has done, is doing or is proposing to do business with the QSSB; or
- Is or will be an owner, partner, member or shareholder of such organization/person.
- Immediate family shall include parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, spouses, in-laws, aunts, nephews, nieces and first cousins. The financial interests or business relationships of such persons shall be ascribed to the Director.
- With respect to organizations/persons who may transact business with the QSSB, a potential conflict of interest exists if:
- The QSSB is doing business with such organization/person and a Director is involved, or responsible for, the oversight of such program, or
- A proposal is pending from such organization/person before the QSSB and the Director is in a position to influence approval of such proposal.
Directors must disclose all such relationships unless they terminated more than two (2) years prior to completing an initial or subsequent disclosure statement. For the purpose of this policy, a passive investment in publicly traded corporations representing less than 5% (five percent) of the then-outstanding stock of that corporation shall not constitute a relationship giving rise to a potential conflict of interest.
Directors may accept personal gifts from persons transacting business with the QSSB subject to the following restrictions:
- May accept any gift valued at less than $50 (fifty dollars) so long as accepting it does not create the appearance of conflict of interest.
- Accept gifts valued at $50 (fifty dollars) but less than $250 (two hundred fifty dollars) so long as the
- Director reports such gifts on the annual disclosure statement.
- For gifts valued at $250 (two hundred fifty dollars) or more, a Director may not accept such a gift without prior written permission of the Chairperson or his or her designee.
A gift includes any goods, services, discounts or any other benefit that a Director receives in exchange for no consideration or less consideration than the value of the benefit given.
Travel and Meals
Directors may accept meals, lodging, transportation and miscellaneous expenses subject to certain conditions. Meals must be provided in conjunction with working sessions of meetings, conferences or other events directly related to Board business. A Director may accept payment or reimbursement for lodging, transportation or miscellaneous expenses in connection with a meeting, conference or other event that the Director attends as a QSSB representative to promote the QSSB’s agenda.
Disclosure Statement Review
The Officers will review all statements at the Annual Board
Meeting and determine whether conflict of interest exists.
If it is determined that a conflict exists, the Director with the conflict shall be required to recuse himself or herself from participating in or voting on any matter involving the conflict. The Officers may also require the Director to return gifts or reimburse a person for travel-related benefits that create conflicts of interest. Even if no conflict of interest is found, Directors are strongly encouraged to exercise their best judgment and recuse themselves from participating in or voting on matters where there is the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Directors must report on the annual disclosure statement all relationships that give rise to a potential conflict of interest, all gifts valued at $50 (fifty dollars) or more, and all travel-related payments and reimbursements. Directors must promptly disclose to an officer of the Board any potential conflict of interest regarding any proposed business transaction. The officers shall keep confidential all reports and information otherwise disclosed to them.
The QSSB is charged with following the Federal soybean Act and Order. In their role of supporting the Board in carrying out this charge, it is important that QSSB employees exercise their responsibilities and duties free of any potential conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. Therefore, it is the policy of the QSSB that each employee, at the time of hire and annually thereafter, complete a disclosure statement to report all relationships, gifts received or travel-related reimbursements that give rise to a potential conflict of interest.
Review of employee disclosure statements by the QSSB Board officers will be conducted annually, and employees will be notified by the officers of any potential conflicts.