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Notice

Cotton Research and Promotion Program: Determination of Whether To Conduct a Referendum Regarding 1990 Amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Act

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

This notice announces the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) determination not to conduct a continuance referendum regarding the 1991 amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Order (Order) provided for in the Cotton Research and Promotion Act (Act) amendments of 1990. This determination is based on the results of a sign-up period conducted June 3 through August 30, 2002, during which eligible cotton producers and importers were provided an opportunity to request a continuance referendum.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Whitney Rick, Chief, Research and Promotion Staff, Cotton Program, AMS, USDA, Stop 0224, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-0224, telephone (202) 720-2259, facsimile (202) 690-1718, or email at whitney.rick@usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

During the period of June 3 through August 30, 2002, pursuant to section 8(c)(1) of the Act, USDA provided an opportunity for eligible cotton producers and importers to request a continuance referendum regarding the 1991 amendments to the Order provided for in the Act. Sign-up period results showed that a total of 1,550 valid requests were received by USDA from eligible producers in 16 states and from importers. The following table depicts the number of requests for a continuance referendum.

FSA State OfficeSign-up request
Alabama19
Arizona37
Arkansas93
California2
Florida4
Georgia19
Illinois0
Kansas0
Kentucky0
Louisiana31
Maryland0
Mississippi57
Missouri186
Nevada0
New Mexico13
North Carolina23
Oklahoma6
South Carolina2
Tennessee58
Texas611
Virginia10
Importers379
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Total1,550
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Section 8(c)(2) of the Act, provides that following a sign-up period, USDA shall conduct a referendum upon the request of 10 percent or more of the number of cotton producers and importers voting in the most recent referendum (1991). This would require 10 percent or 4,622 (46,220×.10=4,622) of the 46,220 valid ballots cast by cotton producers and importers in the July 1991 referendum. It is further provided that, in counting such request not more than 20 percent or 924 may be from producers from any one state or importers of cotton.

USDA finds that the results of the sign-up period did not meet the criteria requiring a continuance referendum by the Act. USDA bases this determination on the fact that the 1,550 requests received during the sign-up period is less than the 4,622 required.

Background

The 1991 amendments to the Order (7 CFR 1205 et seq.) were implemented following the July 1991 referendum. The 1990 amendments were provided for in the Act (7 U.S.C. 2101-2118). These amendments provided for: (1) Importer representation on the Cotton Board by an appropriate number of persons, to be determined by USDA, who import cotton or cotton products into the U.S. and whom USDA selects from nominations submitted by importer organization certified by USDA; (2) assessments levied on imported cotton and cotton products at a rate determined in the same manner as for U.S. cotton; (3) increasing the amount USDA can be reimbursed for the conduct of a referendum from $200,000 to $300,000; (4) reimbursing government agencies that assist in administering the collection of assessments on imported cotton and cotton products; and (5) terminating the right of producers to demand a refund of assessments.

On July 9, 1991, (56 FR 31289) AMS issued a proposal to amend the Order to determine if a majority, 50 percent or more, of producers and importers favored implementation of the proposed amendments to the Order. USDA conducted a referendum (July 1991) among persons who had been cotton producers or cotton importers during a representative period.

Results of the July 1991 referendum showed that of the 46,220 valid ballots received; 27,879 or 60 percent of the persons voting favored the amendments to the Order and 18,341 or 40 percent opposed the amendments.

Following the July 1991 referendum, AMS implemented the amendments. In addition to the previously discussed amendments to the Act and Order, USDA is required by section 8(c)(1) to: (1) Conduct a review once every five years after the anniversary date of the referendum implementing the 1990 Act amendments to determine whether a referendum is necessary and (2) make public the results of such a review within 60 days after each fifth anniversary date of the 1991 implementing referendum. Should the review indicate that a referendum is needed USDA is directed to conduct the referendum within 12 months after a public announcement of review results.

Should the review indicate that a referendum is not warranted, section 8(c)(2) includes provisions for producers and importers to request a continuance referendum through a sign-up period.

Pursuant to the Act, on October 8, 1996, USDA issued the results of the first five-year review of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. USDA announced its view not to conduct a referendum regarding the 1991 amendments to the Order (61 FR 52772). From January 15 though April 14, 1997, USDA conducted a sign-up period for all eligible persons to request a continuance referendum on the 1990 Act amendments. The results of the sign-up period did not meet the criteria as established by the Act for a continuance referendum and, therefore, a referendum was not conducted.

On January 14, 2002, USDA issued the results of the second five-year review on the Cotton Research and Promotion Program (67 FR 1714). The report describes the impact of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program on the cotton industry and the views of those receiving its benefits. The review report cited that the 1990 amendments to the Act were successfully implemented and are operating as intended. The report also noted that there is a general consensus within the cotton industry that the Cotton Research and Promotion Program and the 1990 amendments to the Act are operating as intended. Written comments, economic data, and results from two independent evaluations supported this conclusion. Industry comments cited examples how the additional funding has yielded benefits by increasing the demand and consumption for cotton. Based on the findings of the report, USDA found no compelling reason to conduct a referendum regarding the 1990 Act amendments to the Order although some program participants supported a referendum.

If USDA does not provide for such a referendum on its own initiative, the Act provides that USDA shall conduct such a referendum upon the request of 10 percent or more of the number of cotton producers and importers voting in the most recent referendum. This would be accomplished through a sign-up period conducted by USDA. Determination of the procedures for the conduct of the sign-up period was announced prior to the start of the sign-up period in the Federal Register (67 FR 21167).

With this announcement of the results of the sign-up period, USDA has completed all requirements set forth in section 8(c) (1) and (2) of the Act regarding the review of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program to determine if a continuance referendum is warranted. A referendum will not be conducted, and no further actions are planned in connection with this review.

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 2101-2118.

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Dated: October 29, 2002.

A.J. Yates,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 02-27990 Filed 11-1-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P