Producers and importers who want to vote on whether the Cotton Research and Promotion Program should be continued may request a referendum on the cotton checkoff program this fall.

USDA has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that lists the procedures for an upcoming sign-up period for a continuance referendum. The public has until Aug. 9 to comment on this proposed rule. The projected dates for the sign-up period are Sept. 4 through Nov. 30, 2007.

In March of this year, USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service completed a comprehensive mandatory five-year review that concluded it was not necessary to conduct a referendum on continuation of the 1991 amendments to the Cotton Research & Promotion Act.

The Act requires such a decision be followed with an opportunity for eligible producers and importers to request a referendum. To initiate a referendum, at least 10 percent of the number of those who voted in the last referendum would have to request a referendum. No more than 20 percent of all requests can come from one state or from importers.

Producers desiring a referendum can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency office. Additionally, FSA will mail sign-up information to all eligible importers. For more information about the procedures of the sign-up period, contact Shethir Riva, chief, research and promotion Staff, Cotton Program, AMS, USDA via email – Shethir.Riva@usda.gov.

The Cotton Research & Promotion Act established the Cotton Board as a quasi-governmental, non-profit entity to serve as the administrator of the Cotton Research & Promotion Program. Funded by America’s cotton producers and importers through the cotton checkoff, the Program’s research and promotion activities are conducted worldwide by Cotton Incorporated, the Cotton Board’s sole-source contracting organization, to increase the demand for and improve the market position of cotton. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Cotton Research & Promotion Program continues to work in all areas of cotton’s pipeline – from the field to the consumer – to keep cotton the number one fiber choice in the United States.

For more information about the Cotton Board, visit http://www.cottonboard.org.