[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 42 (Tuesday, March 4, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12037-12040]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04690]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 1220

[Docket No. AMS-LPS-13-0066]


Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Program: 
Amendment of Procedures and Notification of Request for Referendum

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS); U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA).

ACTION: Interim final rule with opportunity for comments.

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SUMMARY: This interim final rule would amend the procedures to Request 
a Referendum by removing the specific number of soybean producers 
eligible to request a referendum under the Soybean Promotion, Research, 
and Consumer Information program, commonly known as the Soybean 
Checkoff Program. The number of soybean producers will be replaced with 
language that allows the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to update 
this number based on information provided by USDA. Additionally, this 
action would remove specific USDA and Farm Service Agency (FSA) Web 
site and office addresses and replace them with more flexible language. 
These changes will enable AMS to announce future Requests for 
Referendum without engaging in additional notice-and-comment 
rulemaking. This rule also serves as AMS' official notice that soybean 
producers may request a referendum to determine if producers want a 
referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Order (Order), as 
authorized under the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer 
Information Act (Act). If at least 10 percent (not in excess of one-
fifth of which may be producers in any one State) of eligible 
producers, as determined by USDA, participate in the Request for 
Referendum, a referendum will be held within 1 year from that 
determination. If results of the Request for Referendum indicate that a 
referendum is not supported, a referendum would not be conducted. The 
results of the Request for Referendum will be published in the Federal 
Register.

DATES: Effective March 5, 2014. Comments must be received by April 3, 
2014.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be posted online at www.regulations.gov, or 
sent to James R. Brow, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Research and 
Promotion Division, Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, 
Room 2610-S, STOP 0251, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC, 
20250-0251; or via Fax to (202) 720-1125. Comments will be made 
available for public inspection at the above address during regular 
business hours or via the Internet at www.regulations.gov. Comments 
received will be posted without change, including any personal 
information provided. All comments should reference the document 
number, Document No. AMS-LPS-13-0066; the date of submission; and the 
page number of this issue in the Federal Register.
    AMS also announces that soybean producers may request a referendum 
during a 4-week period beginning on May 5, 2014, and ending May 30, 
2014. To be eligible to participate in the Request for Referendum, 
producers must certify that they or the producer entity they are 
authorized to represent paid an assessment at any time between January 
1, 2012, and December 31, 2013.
    Form LS-51-1, Soybean Promotion and Research Order Request for 
Referendum, may be obtained by mail, fax, or in person from FSA county 
offices from May 5, 2014, to May 30, 2014. Form LS-51-1 may also be 
obtained via the internet at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/SoybeanInformationontheSoybeanRequestforReferendum during the same time 
period. Completed forms and supporting documentation must be returned 
to the appropriate county FSA office by fax or in person no later than 
close of business May 30, 2014; or if returned by mail, must be 
postmarked by midnight May 30, 2014, and received in the county FSA 
office by close of business on June 6, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Brow, Agricultural Marketing 
Specialist, Research and Promotion Division, Livestock, Poultry and 
Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Room 2092-S, STOP 0251, 1400 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC, 20250-0251; Telephone 202/720-0633; Fax 
202/720-1125; email to James.Brow@ams.usda.gov or Rick Pinkston, Field 
Operations Staff, FSA, USDA, at Telephone 202/720-1857, Fax 202/720-
1096, or by email at Rick.Pinkston@wdc.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health, and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). 
Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both 
costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting 
flexibility. This action has been designated as a ``non-significant 
regulatory action'' under Sec.  3(f) of Executive Order 12866. 
Accordingly, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has waived the 
review process.

Executive Order 13175

    This interim final rule has been reviewed in accordance with the 
requirements of Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination 
with Indian Tribal Governments. The review reveals that this interim 
final rule would not have substantial and direct effects on Tribal 
Governments and would not have significant tribal implications.

Executive Order 12988

    This interim final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 
12988, Civil Justice Reform. This action is not intended to have a 
retroactive effect.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 1971 of the Act, a 
person subject

[[Page 12038]]

to the Order may file a petition with USDA stating that the Order, any 
provision of the Order, or any obligation imposed in connection with 
the Order, is not in accordance with the law and request a modification 
of the Order or an exemption from the Order. The petitioner is afforded 
the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After a hearing, USDA 
would rule on the petition. The Act provides that district courts of 
the United States in any district in which such person is an 
inhabitant, or has their principal place of business, has jurisdiction 
to review USDA's ruling on the petition, if a complaint for this 
purpose is filed within 20 days after the date of the entry of the 
ruling.
    Further, section 1974 of the Act provides, with certain exceptions, 
that nothing in the Act may be construed to preempt or supersede any 
other program relating to soybean promotion, research, consumer 
information, or industry information organized under the laws of the 
United States or any State. One exception in the Act concerns 
assessments collected by Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs). The 
exception provides that to ensure adequate funding of the operations of 
QSSBs under the Act, no State law or regulation may limit or have the 
effect of limiting the full amount of assessments that a QSSB in that 
State may collect, and which is authorized to be credited under the 
Act. Another exception concerns certain referenda conducted during 
specified periods by a State relating to the continuation of a QSSB or 
State soybean assessment.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 
601-612), USDA is required to examine the impact of the interim final 
rule on small entities. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory 
actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions so that 
small businesses will not be disproportionately burdened.
    For the purpose of the Request for Referendum, the Secretary would 
use the most recent number of soybean producers identified by FSA. The 
latest number of soybean producers identified by FSA is 569,998 and was 
obtained using information from 2011 and 2012 acreage reports. The data 
were sorted in such a manner as to include all producers that were 
engaged in the production of soybeans in at least one of the 2 years 
and exclude counting a producer more than once if that producer engaged 
in production during both years. The majority of producers subject to 
the Order are small businesses under the criteria established by the 
Small Business Administration (SBA) [13 CFR 121.201]. SBA defines small 
agricultural producers as those having annual receipts of less than 
$750,000.
    This interim final rule would amend the procedures to request a 
referendum by removing the specific number of soybean producers 
eligible to request a referendum under the Soybean Promotion, Research, 
and Consumer Information program, commonly known as the Soybean 
Checkoff Program. The number of soybean producers will be replaced with 
language that allows the Secretary to update this number based on 
information provided by USDA. Additionally, this action would remove 
specific USDA and FSA Web site and office addresses in Sec. Sec.  
1220.619, 1220.622, 1220.628, and replace them with more flexible 
language. Further, the information collection requirements are minimal. 
Requesting form LS-51-1 to participate in a Request for Referendum may 
be done by mail, in-person, by facsimile, or via the Internet and would 
not impose a significant economic burden on participants.
    Accordingly, the Administrator of AMS has determined that this 
interim final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small business entities.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35), the reporting and recordkeeping requirements included in 7 
CFR part 1220 were previously approved by OMB and were assigned control 
number 0581-0093.

Background

    The Act (7 U.S.C. 6301-6311) provides for the establishment of a 
coordinated program of promotion and research designed to strengthen 
the soybean industry's position in the marketplace, and to maintain and 
expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for soybeans and soybean 
products. The program is financed by an assessment of 0.5 of 1 percent 
of the net market price of soybeans sold by producers. The final rule 
establishing a Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information 
program was published in the July 9, 1991, issue of the Federal 
Register (56 FR 31043), and assessments began on September 1, 1991.
    The Act required that an initial referendum be conducted no earlier 
than 18 months and not later than 36 months after the issuance of the 
Order to determine whether the Order should be continued. The initial 
referendum was conducted on February 9, 1994. On April 1, 1994, the 
Secretary announced that of the 85,606 valid ballots cast, 46,060 (53.8 
percent) were in favor of continuing the Order and the remaining 39,546 
votes (46.2 percent) were against continuing the Order. The Act 
required approval by a simple majority for the Order to continue.
    The Act also required that within 18 months after the Secretary 
announced the results of the initial referendum, the Secretary would 
conduct a poll among producers to determine if producers favored a 
referendum on the continuance of the payment of refunds under the 
Order.
    A July 25, 1995, nationwide poll of soybean producers did not 
generate sufficient support for a refund referendum to be held. A 
refund referendum would have been held if at least 20 percent (not in 
excess of one-fifth of which may be producers in any one State) of the 
381,000 producers (76,200) nationwide requested it. Only 48,782 soybean 
producers participated in the poll. Consequently, refunds were 
discontinued on October 1, 1995.
    The Act also specifies that the Secretary shall, 5 years after the 
conduct of the initial referendum and every 5 years thereafter, provide 
soybean producers an opportunity to request a referendum on the Order. 
Additionally, the Act specifies that these subsequent polls require 
that at least 10 percent (not in excess of one-fifth in any one State) 
of all producers must request a referendum in order to trigger the 
conduct of a referendum. If a referendum is requested, it will be held 
within 1 year of that determination.
    From October 1 to November 16, 1999, a nationwide Request for 
Referendum was conducted to determine if there was sufficient interest 
among soybean producers to vote on whether to continue the soybean 
checkoff program. Ten percent of the eligible 600,813 soybean producers 
nationwide (not in excess of one-fifth of which may be producers in any 
one State) were needed to participate in the Request for Referendum to 
trigger a referendum. Only 17,970 eligible soybean producers completed 
valid requests.
    Five years later, another Request for Referendum was conducted May 
1, 2004, through May 28, 2004. As in the prior Request for Referendum, 
the purpose was to determine if there was sufficient interest among 
soybean producers to vote on whether to continue the soybean checkoff 
program. To be eligible to participate in the Request for Referendum, 
producers or the producer entity that they are

[[Page 12039]]

authorized to represent had to certify and provide supporting 
documentation showing that they or the producer entity they represent 
paid an assessment sometime during the representative period between 
January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2003. Ten percent of the total 
eligible 663,880 soybean producers nationwide (not in excess of one-
fifth of which may be producers in any one State) were needed to 
participate in the Request for Referendum to trigger a referendum. Only 
3,206 eligible soybean producers completed valid Requests for 
Referendum. This number did not meet the requisite number of 66,388; 
therefore, a referendum was not conducted.
    The most recent Request for Referendum was conducted from May 4, 
2009, to May 29, 2009, at FSA county offices. To trigger the 
referendum, ten percent of the total eligible 589,180 soybean producers 
(not in excess of one-fifth of which may be producers in any one State) 
needed to complete the Request for Referendum. A total of 759 valid 
Requests for Referendum were completed. This number did not meet the 
requisite number of 58,918. Therefore, a referendum was not conducted.

Changes to the Regulations

    AMS is amending the language in Sec.  1220.616 to remove the 
specific number of soybean procedures from the regulatory language. 
Data provided by FSA has been used to amend the number of soybean 
procedures prior to any Request for Referendum. The data were sorted in 
such a manner as to include all producers that were engaged in the 
production of soybeans in at least one of the 2 years and exclude 
counting a producer more than once if that producer engaged in 
production during both years. Using the last two crop year acreage 
reports for which complete data is available ensures that all eligible 
producers are counted, as some producers use soybeans in rotation with 
other crops and do not plant soybeans every year or the market for some 
producers in a particular crop year may not have been conducive to 
growing soybeans. This methodology is consistent with that used during 
the last amendment to Sec.  1220.616 in 2009.
    Further, this change will enable AMS to announce future requests 
for referendum without engaging in additional notice-and-comment 
rulemaking.
    In addition to the changes relating to the number of eligible 
soybean producers, AMS also will amend Sec. Sec.  1220.619, 1220.622, 
and 1220.628 regarding Web site addresses and office locations as a 
result of internal changes within USDA, including AMS and FSA.
    This interim final rule also provides official notice for the 
upcoming Request for Referendum.

Notice of Request for Referendum

    Soybean producers may request a referendum to determine if they 
want a referendum on the Order, as authorized under the Act. To be 
eligible to participate, producers must certify that they or the entity 
they are authorized to represent paid an assessment at sometime between 
January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2013. They must complete form LS 51-
1, Soybean Promotion and Research Order, Request for Referendum, in its 
entirety in person, by mail, or by facsimile from May 5, 2014, through 
May 30, 2014. Individual producers and other producer entities would 
request a referendum at the county FSA office where FSA maintains and 
processes the producer's, corporation's, or other entity's 
administrative farm records. For the producer, corporation, or other 
entity not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to request a 
referendum would be provided at the county FSA office serving the 
county where the producer, corporation, or other entity owns or rents 
land. Form LS 51-1 may also be obtained via the Internet at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/SoybeanInformationontheSoybeanRequestforReferendum. If obtained by the 
Internet, Form LS 51-1 must be completed in its entirety and returned 
with the supporting documentation to the county FSA office where FSA 
maintains and processes the producer's, corporation's, or other 
entity's administrative farm records. For the producer, corporation, or 
other entity not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to 
request a referendum would be provided at the county FSA office serving 
the county where the producer, corporation, or other entity owns or 
rents land.
    Form LS 51-1 and accompanying supporting documentation may be 
returned in person, by mail, or facsimile to the appropriate county FSA 
office. Forms and supporting documentation returned in person or by 
facsimile must be received in the appropriate county office prior to 
the close of business of May 30, 2014. If returned by mail, Form LS 51-
1 and accompanying documentation must be postmarked no later than 
midnight of May 30, 2014, and received in the county FSA office by 
close of business on June 6, 2014. Supporting documentation could 
include proof that an assessment was paid between January 1, 2012, 
through December 31, 2013, sales receipt, etc.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it is found and determined upon good 
cause that it is impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public 
interest to give preliminary notice prior to putting this rule into 
effect and that good cause exists for not postponing the effective date 
of the rule until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register in 
order to conduct the Request for Referendum in a timely manner, 
consistent with the provisions of the Act and regulations.
    A 30-day comment period is provided for interested persons to 
comment on the changes to Sec.  1220.616. For the same reasons, this 
comment period is deemed appropriate.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1220

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Soybeans and soybean products.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR Part 1220 is 
amended as follows:

PART 1220--SOYBEAN PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION

0
1. The authority citation for part 1220 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 6301-6311 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

Subpart F--Procedures to Request a Referendum

0
2. In Sec.  1220.616, paragraph (d) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1220.616  General.

* * * * *
    (d) For purposes of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, the 
number of soybean producers in the United States will be determined by 
the Secretary using data provided by USDA.

0
3. In Sec.  1220.619, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1220.619  Time and place for requesting a referendum.

* * * * *
    (b) Producers can determine the location of county FSA offices by 
contacting the nearest county FSA office in their State or by an online 
search of FSA Web sites.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  1220.622, paragraph (b) is revised as follows:

[[Page 12040]]

Sec.  1220.622  Certification and request procedures.

* * * * *
    (b) To request a referendum, eligible producers may obtain form LS-
51-1 in person, by mail, or by facsimile during the request for 
referendum period from the county FSA office where FSA maintains and 
processes the producer's, corporation's, or other entity's 
administrative farm records. For the producer, corporation, or other 
entity not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to request a 
referendum would be provided at the county FSA office serving the 
county where the producer, corporation, or other entity owns or rents 
land. Eligible producers may also obtain form LS-51-1 via the Internet 
at a Web site provided by the Secretary. For those persons who chose to 
obtain form LS-51-1 via the Internet, the completed form and required 
documentation must be submitted to the county FSA office where FSA 
maintains and processes the producer's, corporation's, or other 
entity's administrative farm records. For producers, corporations, or 
other entities not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to 
request a referendum would be provided at the county FSA office serving 
the county where the producer, corporation, or other entity owns or 
rents land.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  1220.628, paragraph (a) is revised as follows:


Sec.  1220.628  Results of the request for referendum.

    (a) The Administrator, FSA, shall submit to the Administrator, AMS, 
the reports from all State FSA offices. The Administrator, AMS, shall 
tabulate the results of the Request for Referendum. USDA will issue an 
official press release announcing the results of the Request for 
Referendum and publish the same results in the Federal Register. In 
addition, USDA will post the official results at a Web site address 
provided by the Secretary. Subsequently, State reports and related 
papers shall be available for public inspection upon request during 
normal business hours at an address provided by the Secretary.
* * * * *

    Dated: February 25, 2014.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2014-04690 Filed 3-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P