Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.
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 September 3 through November 30, 2007, during which eligible cotton producers and importers were provided an opportunity to request a continuance referendum.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Shethir Riva, Chief, Cotton Research and Promotion Staff, Cotton Program, AMS, USDA, STOP 0224, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-0224, Telephone (202) 720-2259, Facsimile (202) 690-1718 or e-mail Shethir.Riva@usda.gov.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
During the period of September 3 through November 30, 2007, 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 USDA received 107 valid requests from eligible producers and importers. The following table depicts the number of requests for a continuance referendum.
|FSA State office||Sign-up request|
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 (46,220X.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 107 requests received during the sign-up period is less than the 4,622 required.
The 1991 amendments to the Order (7 CFR part 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 5 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.
In 1996 and 2001, pursuant to the Act, USDA issued the results of its 5-year reviews of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. In both reviews, the Department prepared reports that described the impact of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program on the cotton industry and the views of those Start Printed Page 5495receiving its benefits, and in both instances, USDA announced its view not to conduct a referendum regarding the 1991 amendments to the Order (61 FR 52772 & 67 FR 1714) and subsequently held sign-up periods for all eligible persons to request a continuance referendum on the 1990 Act amendments. The results of both respective sign-up periods did not meet the criteria as established by the Act for a continuance referendum and, therefore, referenda were not conducted.
In 2006, the Department again prepared a 5-year report that described the impact of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program on the cotton industry. The review report is available upon written request to the Chief of the Cotton Research and Promotion Staff at the address provided above. Comments were solicited from all interested parties including from persons who pay the assessments as well as from organizations representing cotton producers and importers (71 FR 13808; March 17, 2006). Economic data was also reviewed in order to report on the general climate of the cotton industry. Finally, a number of independent sources of information were reviewed to help identify perspectives from outside the program including the results of independent program evaluations assessing the effects of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program activities on demand for Upland cotton, return-on-investment to cotton producers, the benefit-cost ratio to companies who import cotton products and raw cotton, and the overall rate-of-return and qualitative benefits and returns associated with the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. 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 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 independent evaluations support this conclusion. Industry comments cited examples of how the additional funding has yielded benefits by increasing the demand and consumption for cotton. Of the 15 comments received, only one commenter, who represents cotton importers, argued for a referendum on the 1990 Act amendments.
USDA found no compelling reason to conduct a referendum regarding the 1990 Act amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Order although some program participants support a referendum. Therefore, USDA allowed all eligible persons to request the conduct of a continuance referendum on the 1990 amendments through a sign-up period.
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.Start Signature
Dated: January 24, 2008.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. E8-1660 Filed 1-29-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P