[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 43 (Wednesday, March 5, 2014)]
[Pages 12463-12464]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04850]



Economic Research Service

Notice of Request for Approval of a New Information Collection

AGENCY: Economic Research Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. Chapter 35), this notice announces the Economic Research 
Service's intention to request approval for a new information 
collection for the study of ``Census of Users of the National Plant 
Germplasm System.'' This is a new collection to provide information on 
usage and expectations of future use among requestors of genetic 
resources from USDA's National Plant Germplasm System.

DATES: Comments on this notice must be received by May 5, 2014 to be 
assured of consideration.
    Additional Information or Comments: Address all comments concerning 
this notice to Kelly Day Rubenstein, Resource and Rural Economics 
Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Mail Stop 1800, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20250. 
Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Kelly Day 
Rubenstein at 202-694-4847 or via email to kday@ers.usda.gov. For 
further information contact Kelly Day Rubenstein at the address above, 
or telephone 202-694-5515.

    Title: Census of Users of the National Plant Germplasm System.
    OMB Number: 0536-XXXX.
    Expiration Date of Approval: Three years from approval date.
    Type of Request: New information collection.
    Abstract: The Census of Users of the National Plant Germplasm 
System will solicit data from the 7,207 institutional representatives 
who requested germplasm (i.e., living tissue from which plants can be 
grown) for any of ten crops including beans, barley, cotton, maize, 
sorghum, squash, soybeans, potato, rice, and wheat from the National 
Plant Germplasm System over a five year period. Each respondent will be 
asked to provide information via a web-based questionnaire. Legislative 
authority for the planned data collection is 7 U.S.C. 2204(a) and 7 
U.S.C. 2661.
    The information to be collected by the ``Census of Users of the 
National Plant Germplasm System'' is necessary to assess and understand 
the types and varieties of germplasm needed by breeders and other 
scientists in both the public and private sectors. This study will 
provide data not currently available to program officials and 
researchers, thereby broadening the scope of economic analyses of 
genetic enhancement, and in turn, enhancing R&D and productivity 
research at the Economic Research Service (ERS), the National Plant 
Germplasm System, and the National Germplasm Resource Laboratory. The 
database would contain a wealth of empirical information on germplasm 
use in breeding and research. This includes information by specific 
crops (e.g., the use of landraces in corn breeding, the search for 
biotic tolerance in wheat); the quantity of germplasm by type and 
purpose; institutional needs for germplasm (both public and private); 
and requestors' anticipated future use. This information will also 
assess biological traits that are needed for adaptation to climate 
change. Agriculture is highly geography- specific, given that growing 
regions vary by rainfall and temperature conditions, pest and disease 
pressures, and soil types. Accordingly, plant breeders work to develop 
unique varieties for different geographic locations. As a result, each 
requestor of NPGS germplasm is likely to have one characteristic--
geographic location--which is unique and important to that 
institution's use of this germplasm, particularly in the context of 
global climate change. Moreover, it would be difficult to get adequate 
representation of the matrix of crops, germplasm types, and locations 
for some smaller crops (e.g., squash) without conducting a census of 
all germplasm requestors to the NPGS for any of the ten crops.
    A web-based instrument will be used for information collection. It 
will be kept as simple and respondent-friendly as possible. Responses 
are voluntary. The study instrument is based on a mailed paper-based 
instrument used in the 2000 study, ``Demand for Genetic Resources from 
the National Plant Germplasm System.'' It was jointly developed by 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Auburn 
University's Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, 
the National Germplasm Resources Lab of the National Plant Germplasm 
System, and the Economic Research Service. The instrument used in the 
2000 study was administered by IFPRI and Auburn University and had a 
response rate of 35%. Study design for currently proposed study is 
consistent with that of the 2000 study in order to make comparisons 
across time. The frame for this census comprises all germplasm 
requestors to the NPGS for any of the ten crops in the last five years. 
Although the NPGS provided germplasm to any requestor free of cost, it 
also informed potential requestors and received their consent, at the 
time of a request was made, that their information could be used for 
activities relating to the service

[[Page 12464]]

that they had requested. Several measures will be taken to support the 
response rate for the proposed information collection:
     Information will be collected via the internet rather than 
by mail. This data collection mode is more convenient for intended 
respondents and will allow for rapid follow up with non-respondents.
     This information collection will be cosponsored by the 
National Germplasm Resources Laboratory of USDA, which is familiar to 
the recipients as it is the agency that provided the requested 
     A well planned recruitment protocol will include sending 
the instrument with a cover letter from a senior staff member of the 
National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, who will be an individual 
familiar to many of the recipients. It also includes up to three 
reminder emails to non-respondents.
    Should the response rate fall below 80%, a non-response bias study 
will be conducted. The web-based instrument was pretested for ease of 
use by fewer than 9 germplasm requestors from USDA Agricultural 
Research Service (ARS) and the average time spent completing the forms 
was 11 minutes.
    Information from the Census of Users of the National Plant 
Germplasm System will be used for statistical purposes only and 
reported only in aggregate or statistical form. A public use data file 
will be created from this information collection. ERS does not intend 
to invoke CIPSEA or any other data protection statute for this 
collection, because it will not collect any sensitive or personal 
identifiable information.
    Estimate of Burden: In order to answer our research question about 
the use of germplasm for adaptation to climate change, a census is 
needed to pinpoint geo-spatial demand for germplasm. Thus, all 7,207 
requestors of germplasm will be asked to fill out a web instrument once 
during a one month data collection period; non-respondents will receive 
three reminder emails. 80% of requestors are assumed to provide a 
response to one of the four emailed instruments. The estimated time of 
response is to average 0.197 hour. This average includes time spent to 
complete questionnaire and reading reminder emails. 20% will be non-
respondents and will incur less than 1 minute of time to read the 
material. Thus, response times are estimated adding an additional 
minute for each reminder sent, for a total of four minutes for 
requestors who never respond. These estimates of respondent burden are 
based on pretesting by ARS scientists, conducted by the National 
Germplasm Resources Laboratory of the National Plant Germplasm System.
    Type of Respondents: Respondents includes all individuals or 
institutions who requested germplasm for any of the aforesaid ten crops 
from the National Plant Germplasm System over the five year period as 
defined by this information collection.
    Estimated Total Number of Respondents: 7,207.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 1,231.2 hours.
    Comments: All written comments received will be available for 
public inspection in the Resource Center of the Economic Research 
Service during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday 
through Friday) at 355 E St. SW., Room 04P33, Washington, DC 20024-
4221. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in 
the request for OMB approval. All comments will become a matter of 
public record. Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the information will 
have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of 
the burden of the proposed collection of information including the 
validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance 
the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; 
and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, 
electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or 
other forms of information technology.

    Date: February 19, 2014.
Mary Bohman,
Administrator, Economic Research Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-04850 Filed 3-4-14; 8:45 am]