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USDA announces cotton sign-up

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to conduct a sign-up June 21 through July 2, 2021, to provide eligible cotton producers and importers of cotton and cotton-containing products an opportunity to request a referendum on whether to continue the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.

Every five years, USDA is required to review the Cotton Research and Promotion Program to determine whether to conduct a referendum on continuing the assessments under the program.  On Dec. 18, 2020, USDA issued a decision that a referendum was unnecessary. The 1966 Cotton Research and Promotion Act provides an opportunity for producers and importers to request a referendum through a sign-up period.

A referendum would be conducted if it is supported by 10% or more of the number of eligible cotton producers and importers voting in the most recent referendum, which was in 1991. At least 4,662 sign-up requests would be required to initiate a referendum. No action is necessary if a referendum is not desired.

The sign-up period will be open to all eligible producers and importers. During this period, eligible cotton producers can sign up to request a continuance referendum in person at their local county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Producers also may request a sign-up form in the mail from their local FSA office or through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Cotton Board webpage. Producers can return their forms via their FSA office or by mailing them to USDA, AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Program, Attention: Cotton Sign-Up, P.O. Box 23181, Washington, DC 20077-8249.

Eligible importers can sign up to request a continuance referendum through the AMS Cotton Board webpage or they can request a sign-up form by contacting CottonRP@usda.gov or (540) 361-2726. Importer forms can be returned to USDA, AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Program, Attention: Cotton Sign-Up, P.O. Box 23181, Washington, DC 20077-8249.

direct final rule with the amended dates, name changes, addresses, and other administrative changes was posted in the Federal Register on April 19, 2021.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight to 22 boards. The oversight ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity and is paid for by industry assessments.