(a) Initial referendum (1) Requirement
Not earlier than 18 months or later than 36 months following issuance of an order under section 6303 of this title, the Secretary shall conduct a referendum among producers who, during a representative period as determined by the Secretary, have been engaged in the production of soybeans for the purpose of ascertaining whether the order then in effect shall be continued.
(2) Advance notice
The Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, provide broad public notice in advance of any referendum. Any such notice shall be provided without advertising expenses by means of newspapers, county newsletters, the electronic media, and press releases, through the use of notices posted in State and county Extension Service offices and county Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service offices, and by other appropriate means specified in the order. Such notice shall include information on when the referendum will be held, registration and voting requirements, rules regarding absentee voting, and other pertinent facts.
(3) Approval of order
Such order shall be continued only if the Secretary determines that the order has been approved by not less than a majority of the producers voting in the referendum.
(4) Disapproval of order
If continuation of the order is not approved by a majority of those voting in the referendum, the Secretary shall terminate collection of assessments under the order within 6 months after the referendum and shall terminate the order in an orderly manner as soon as practicable.
(b) Additional referenda (1) In general (A) Requirement
After the initial referendum on an order, the Secretary shall conduct additional referenda, as described in subparagraph (C), if requested by a representative group of producers, as described in subparagraph (B).
(B) Representative group of producers
An additional referendum on an order shall be conducted if requested by 10 percent or more of the producers who during a representative period have been engaged in the production of soybeans, of which group of requesting producers not in excess of one-fifth may be producers in any one State, as determined by the Secretary.
(C) Eligible producers
Each additional referendum shall be conducted among all producers who, during a representative period, as determined by the Secretary, have been engaged in the production of soybeans to determine whether such producers favor the termination or suspension of the order.
(2) Disapproval of order
If the Secretary determines, in any referendum conducted under paragraph (1), that suspension or termination of the order is favored by a majority of the producers voting in the referendum, the Secretary shall suspend or terminate, as appropriate, collection of assessments under the order within 6 months after such determination and shall suspend or terminate the order, as appropriate, in an orderly manner as soon as practicable after such determination.
(3) Opportunity to request additional referenda (A) In general
To facilitate the periodic determination as to whether producers favor the conduct of an additional referendum under this subsection, the Secretary, 5 years after the conduct of a referendum under this chapter and every 5 years thereafter, shall provide soybean producers an opportunity to request an additional referendum, as provided in this paragraph.
(B) Method of making request (i) In-person requests
To carry out subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall establish a procedure under which producers may request a reconfirmation referendum in person at county extension offices or county Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service offices during a period established by the Secretary, or as provided in clause (ii).
(ii) Mail-in requests
In lieu of making such requests in person, producers may make requests by mail. Mail-in requests shall be postmarked no later than the end of the period established under clause (i) for in-person requests. To facilitate such submission of requests by mail, the Secretary may make mail-in request forms available to producers.
The Secretary shall publish a notice in the Federal Register, and the Board shall provide written notification to producers, not later than 60 days prior to the end of the period established under subparagraph (B)(i) for in-person requests, of the producers’ opportunity to request the additional referendum. Such notifications shall explain the producers’ rights to, and the procedure specified in this subsection for, the conduct of an additional referendum, the purpose of the referendum, and the date and method by which producers may act to request the additional referenda under this paragraph. The Secretary shall take such other actions as the Secretary determines are necessary to ensure that producers are made aware of the opportunity to request an additional referendum on the order.
(D) Action by Secretary
As soon as practicable following the submission of requests for a reconsideration referendum, the Secretary shall determine whether a sufficient number of producers have requested an additional referendum, and take other steps to conduct an additional referendum, as are required under paragraph (1).
(E) Time limit
Any additional referendum requested under the procedures provided in this paragraph shall be conducted not later than 1 year after the Secretary determines that a representative group of producers, as described in paragraph (1)(B), have requested the conduct of such referendum.
(c) Procedures (1) Reimbursement of Secretary
The Secretary shall be reimbursed from assessments collected by the Board for any expenses incurred by the Secretary in connection with the conduct of any activity required under this section, except for the salaries of Government employees associated with the conduct of a referendum under subsections (a) and (b).
Each referendum shall be conducted for a reasonable period of time not to exceed 3 days, established by the Secretary, under a procedure whereby producers intending to vote in the referendum shall certify that they were engaged in the production of soybeans during the representative period and, at the same time, shall be provided an opportunity to vote in the referendum.
Referenda shall be conducted at county extension offices and provision shall be made for absentee mail ballots to be provided on request. Absentee mail ballots shall be furnished by the Secretary on request made in person, by mail, or by telephone.
AMENDMENTS 1991—Subsec. (b)(3)(A). Pub. L. 102–237 made technical amendment to reference to this chapter to correct reference to corresponding provision of original act.
7 U.S.C. § 6305 (2018)