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Title 7 Part 1221 → Subpart B

Title 7 → Subtitle B → Chapter XI → Part 1221 → Subpart B

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 7 Part 1221 → Subpart B

e-CFR data is current as of September 18, 2019

Title 7Subtitle BChapter XIPart 1221 → Subpart B


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 1221—SORGHUM PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION ORDER


§1221.200   Terms defined.

As used throughout this subpart, unless the context otherwise requires, terms shall have the same meaning as the definition of such terms in subpart A of this part.

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§1221.201   Administrator, AMS.

Administrator, AMS, means the Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, or any officer or employee of USDA to whom there has been delegated or may be delegated the authority to act in the Administrator's stead.

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§1221.202   Administrator, FSA.

Administrator, FSA, means the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency, or any officer or employee of USDA to whom there has been delegated or may be delegated the authority to act in the Administrator's stead.

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§1221.203   Eligible person.

Eligible person is defined as any person subject to the assessment who during the representative period determined by the Secretary has engaged in the production or importation of sorghum. Such persons are eligible to participate in the referendum.

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§1221.204   Farm Service Agency.

Farm Service Agency, also referred to as “FSA,” means the Farm Service Agency of USDA.

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§1221.205   Farm Service Agency County Committee.

Farm Service Agency County Committee, also referred to as “FSA County Committee or COC,” means the group of persons within a county who are elected to act as the Farm Service Agency County Committee.

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§1221.206   Farm Service Agency County Executive Director.

Farm Service Agency County Executive Director, also referred to as “CED,” means the person employed by the FSA County Committee to execute the policies of the FSA County Committee and to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the FSA county office, or the person acting in such capacity.

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§1221.207   Farm Service Agency State Committee.

Farm Service Agency State Committee, also referred to as “FSA State Committee,” means the group of persons within a State who are appointed by the Secretary to act as the Farm Service Agency State Committee.

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§1221.208   Farm Service Agency State Executive Director.

Farm Service Agency State Executive Director, also referred to as “SED,” means the person within a State who is appointed by the Secretary to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the FSA State Office, or the person acting in such capacity.

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§1221.209   Public notice.

Public notice means not later than 30 days before the referendum is conducted, the Secretary shall notify the eligible voters in such manner as determined by the Secretary, of the voting period during which voting in the referendum will occur. The notice shall explain any registration and voting procedures established under section 518 of the Act.

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§1221.210   Representative period.

Representative period means the period designated by the Secretary pursuant to section 518 of the Act.

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§1221.211   Voting period.

The term voting period means a 4-week period to be announced by the Secretary for voting in the referendum.

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Procedures

§1221.220   General.

A referendum to determine whether eligible persons favor the continuance of this part shall be carried out in accordance with this subpart.

(a) The referendum will be conducted at county FSA offices for producers and through AMS headquarters offices for importers.

(b) The Secretary shall determine if at least a majority of those persons voting favor the continuance of this part.

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§1221.221   Supervision of the process for conducting referenda.

The Administrator, AMS, shall be responsible for supervising the process of permitting persons to vote in a referendum in accordance with this subpart.

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§1221.222   Eligibility.

(a) Any person subject to the assessment who during the representative period determined by the Secretary has engaged in the production or importation of sorghum is eligible to participate in the referendum. An eligible person at the time of the referendum and during the representative period, shall be entitled to cast only one vote in the referendum.

(b) Proxy registration. Proxy registration is not authorized, except that an officer or employee of a corporate producer or importer, or any guardian, administrator, executor, or trustee of a person's estate, or an authorized representative of any eligible producer or importer entity (other than an individual person), such as a corporation or partnership, may vote on behalf of that entity. Further, an individual cannot vote on behalf of another individual (i.e., spouse, family members, sharecrop lease, joint tenants, tenants in common, owners of community property, a partnership, or a corporation).

(c) Any individual, who votes on behalf of any producer or importer entity, shall certify that he or she is authorized by such entity to take such action. Upon request of the county FSA or AMS office, the person voting may be required to submit adequate evidence of such authority.

(d) Joint and group interest. A group of individuals, such as members of a family, joint tenants, tenants in common, a partnership, owners of community property, or a corporation who engaged in the production or importation of sorghum during the representative period as a producer or importer entity shall be entitled to cast only one vote; provided, however, that any individual member of a group who is an eligible person separate from the group may vote separately.

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§1221.223   Time and place of the referendum.

(a) The opportunity to vote in the referendum shall be provided during a 4-week period beginning and ending on a date determined by the Secretary. Eligible persons shall have the opportunity to vote following the procedures established in this subpart during the normal business hours of each county FSA or AMS office.

(b) Persons can determine the location of county FSA offices by contacting the nearest county FSA office, the State FSA office, or through an online search of FSA's Web site.

(c) Each eligible producer shall cast a ballot in the county FSA office where FSA maintains the person's administrative farm records. For eligible persons not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to vote will be provided at the county FSA office serving the county where the person owns or rents land. A person engaged in the production of sorghum in more than one county will vote in the county FSA office where the person does most of his or her business.

(d) Each eligible importer will cast a ballot in the Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Room 2628-S, STOP 0251, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-0251; Telephone: (202) 720-1115; Fax: (202) 720-1125.

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§1221.224   Facilities.

Each county FSA office will provide:

(a) A voting place that is well known and readily accessible to persons in the county and that is equipped and arranged so that each person can complete and submit a ballot in secret without coercion, duress, or interference of any sort whatsoever, and

(b) A holding container of sufficient size so arranged that no ballot or supporting documentation can be read or removed without breaking seals on the container.

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§1221.225   Certification and referendum ballot form.

Form LS-379 shall be used to vote in the referendum and certify eligibility. Eligible persons will be required to complete a ballot in its entirety, vote “yes” or “no” to continue the program and provide documentation such as a sales receipt or remittance form showing that the person voting was engaged in the production of sorghum during the representative period. The person or authorized representative shall sign the ballot certifying that they or the entity they represent were engaged in the production of sorghum during the representative period.

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§1221.226   Certification and voting procedures.

(a) Each eligible person shall be provided the opportunity to cast a ballot during the voting period announced by the Secretary.

(1) Each eligible person shall be required to complete Form LS-379 in its entirety, sign it and, provide evidence that they were engaged in the production or importation of sorghum during the representative period. The person must legibly place his or her name and, if applicable, the entity represented, address, county and, telephone number. The person shall sign and certify on Form LS-379 that:

(i) The person was engaged in the production or importation of sorghum during the representative period;

(ii) The person voting on behalf of a corporation or other entity is authorized to do so;

(iii) The person has cast only one vote; and

(2) Only a completed and signed Form LS-379 accompanied by supporting documentation showing that the person was engaged in the production or importation of sorghum during the representative period shall be considered a valid vote.

(b) To vote, eligible producers may obtain Form LS-379 in-person, by mail, or by facsimile from county FSA offices or through the Internet during the voting period. A completed and signed Form LS-379 and supporting documentation, such as a sales receipt or remittance form, must be returned to the appropriate county FSA office where FSA maintains and processes the person's administrative farm records. For a person not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to vote in a referendum will be provided at the county FSA office serving the county where the person owns or rents land. A person engaged in the production of sorghum in more than one county will vote in the county FSA office where the person does most of his or her business. A completed and signed Form LS-379 and the supporting documentation may be returned in-person, by mail, or facsimile to the appropriate county FSA office. Form LS-379 and supporting documentation returned in-person or by facsimile, must be received in the appropriate county FSA office prior to the close of the work day on the final day of the voting period to be considered a valid ballot. Form LS-379 and the accompanying documentation returned by mail must be postmarked no later than midnight of the final day of the voting period and must be received in the county FSA office on the 5th business day following the final day of the voting period. To vote, eligible importers may obtain Form LS-379 in-person, by mail or, by facsimile from AMS offices or through the Internet during the voting period. A completed and signed Form LS-379 and supporting documentation, such as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection form 7501, must be returned to the AMS headquarters office.

(c) A completed and signed Form LS-379 and the supporting documentation may be returned in-person, by mail, or facsimile to the appropriate county FSA office for producers and to AMS office for importers. Form LS-379 and supporting documentation returned in-person or by facsimile, must be received in the appropriate county FSA office for producers or the AMS office for importers prior to the close of the work day on the final day of the voting period to be considered a valid ballot. Form LS-379 and the accompanying documentation returned by mail must be postmarked no later than midnight of the final day of the voting period and must be received in the county FSA office for producers and the AMS office for importers on the 5th business day following the final day of the voting period.

(d) Persons who obtain Form LS-379 in-person at the appropriate FSA county office may complete and return it the same day along with the supporting documentation. Importers who obtain Form LS-379 in-person at the appropriate AMS office may complete and return it the same day along with the supporting documentation.

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§1221.227   Canvassing voting ballots.

(a) Canvassing of Form LS-379 shall take place at the appropriate county FSA offices or AMS office on the 6th business day following the final day of the voting period. Canvassing of producer ballots shall be in the presence of at least two members of the county committee. If two or more of the counties have been combined and are served by one county office, the canvassing of the requests shall be conducted by at least one member of the county committee from each county served by the county office. The FSA State committee or the State Executive Director, if authorized by the State Committee, may designate the County Executive Director (CED) and a county or State FSA office employee to canvass the ballots and report the results instead of two members of the county committee when it is determined that the number of eligible voters is so limited that having two members of the county committee present for this function is impractical, and designate the CED and/or another county or State FSA office employee to canvass requests in any emergency situation precluding at least two members of the county committee from being present to carry out the functions required in this section.

(b) Canvassing of importer ballots will be performed by AMS personnel or any other person as deemed necessary.

(c) Form LS-379 should be canvassed as follows:

(1) Number of valid ballots. A person has been declared eligible by FSA or AMS to vote by completing Form LS-379 in its entirety, signing it, and providing supporting documentation that shows the person who cast the ballot during the voting period was engaged in the production or importation of sorghum. Such ballot will be considered a valid ballot.

(2) Number of ineligible ballots. If FSA or AMS cannot determine that a person is eligible based on the submitted documentation or if the person fails to submit the required supporting documentation, the person shall be determined to be ineligible. FSA or AMS shall notify ineligible persons in writing as soon as practicable but no later than the 8th business day following the final day of the voting period.

(d) Appeal. A person declared to be ineligible by FSA or AMS can appeal such decision and provide additional documentation to the FSA county office or AMS within 5 business days after the postmark date of the letter of notification of ineligibility. FSA or AMS will then make a final decision on the person's eligibility and notify the person of the decision.

(e) Invalid ballots. An invalid ballot includes, but is not limited to the following:

(1) Form LS-379 is not signed or all required information has not been provided;

(2) Form LS-379 and supporting documentation returned in-person or by facsimile was not received by close of business on the last business day of the voting period;

(3) Form LS-379 and supporting documentation returned by mail was not postmarked by midnight of the final day of the voting period;

(4) Form LS-379 and supporting documentation returned by mail was not received in the county FSA or AMS office by the 5th business day following the final day of the voting period;

(5) Form LS-379 or supporting documentation is mutilated or marked in such a way that any required information on the Form is illegible; or

(6) Form LS-379 and supporting documentation not returned to the appropriate county FSA or AMS office.

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§1221.228   Counting ballots.

(a) Form LS-379 shall be counted by county FSA offices or the AMS office on the same day as the ballots are canvassed if there are no ineligibility determinations to resolve. For those county FSA offices that do have ineligibility determinations, the requests shall be counted no later than the 14th business day following the final day of the voting period.

(b) Ballots shall be counted as follows:

(1) Number of valid ballots cast;

(2) Number of persons favoring the Order;

(3) Number of persons not favoring the Order;

(4) Number of invalid ballots.

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§1221.229   FSA county office report.

The county FSA office report shall be certified as accurate and complete by the CED or designee, acting on behalf of the Administrator, AMS, as soon as may be reasonably possible, but in no event shall submit no later than the 18th business day following the final day of the specified period. Each county FSA office shall transmit the results in its county to the FSA State office. The results in each county may be made available to the public upon notification by the Administrator, FSA, that the final results have been released by the Secretary. A copy of the report shall be posted for 30 calendar days following the date of notification by the Administrator, FSA, in the county FSA office in a conspicuous place accessible to the public. One copy shall be kept on file in the county FSA office for a period of at least 12 months after notification by FSA that the final results have been released by the Secretary.

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§1221.230   FSA State office report.

Each FSA State office shall transmit to the Administrator, FSA, as soon as possible, but in no event later than the 20th business day following the final day of the voting period, a report summarizing the data contained in each of the reports from the county FSA offices. One copy of the State summary shall be filed for a period of not less than 12 months after the results have been released and available for public inspection after the results have been released.

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§1221.231   Results of the referendum.

(a) The Administrator, FSA, shall submit to the Administrator, AMS, reports from all State FSA offices. The Administrator, AMS shall tabulate the results of the ballots. USDA will issue an official press release announcing the results of referendum and publish the same results in the Federal Register. In addition, USDA will post the official results on its Web site. State reports and related papers shall be available for public inspection upon request during normal business hours at the Marketing Programs Branch; Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Room 2628-S; STOP 0251; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC.

(b) If the Secretary deems necessary, a State report or county report shall be reexamined and checked by such persons who may be designated by the Secretary.

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§1221.232   Disposition of records.

Each FSA CED will place in sealed containers marked with the identification of the “Sorghum Checkoff Program Referendum,” all of the Forms LS-379 along with the accompanying documentation and county summaries. Such records will be placed in a secure location under the custody of FSA CED for a period of not less than 12 months after the date of notification by the Administrator, FSA, that the final results have been announced by the Secretary. If the county FSA office receives no notice to the contrary from the Administrator, FSA, by the end of the 12 month period as described above, the CED or designee shall destroy the records.

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§1221.233   Instructions and forms.

The Administrator, AMS, is authorized to prescribe additional instructions and forms not inconsistent with the provisions of this subpart.

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§1221.234   Confidentiality

The names of persons voting in the referendum and ballots shall be confidential and the contents of the ballots shall not be divulged except as the Secretary may direct. The public may witness the opening of the ballot box and the counting of the votes but may not interfere with the process.

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