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USDA plans cotton checkoff review

The Cotton Research and Promotion Program is due this year for its mandatory five-year review by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We're in the early stages of preparing for this legislatively-mandated review in order to make a recommendation to the secretary of agriculture on whether the program should hold a continuance referendum on the 1990 act amendments,” says Norma McDill, deputy administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service cotton program.

The amendments allowed for assessments to be levied against non-U.S. imported cotton and cotton products. It also eliminated the ability for producers to receive refunds for assessments for the program, and provided the ability for the program to pay for collecting fees for imported cotton and cotton products.

Funds from the program are used to support the research and promotion activities of Cotton Incorporated.

“If our recommendation to the secretary is that we shouldn't hold a referendum, and she agrees, the law mandates an automatic signup period to allow cotton producers and importers of cotton and cotton products that pay assessments to sign up and request a referendum,” McDill explained.

“Some of the things we'll be looking at for making a determination in this review are the economic assessment and the results of the Gallup Poll contracted by the Cotton Board. We'll also look at market share and the letter submitted during the USDA Task Force review conducted a couple of years ago.”

The oversight for the program, McDill noted, is provided from the Washington office and one full year of staff time is spent providing regulatory support, publishing the importer assessment, attending Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated meetings, reviewing budgets for both boards, and providing other support and guidance as directed by the USDA.


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