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USDA reinstates regulations associated with South Texas Onions marketing order

Earlier this year Texans were told that their onion marketing order would remain in place at least through this season, but last week the South Texas Onion Committee was surprised with sudden news that the marketing order was immediately being suspended. Now it seems things have changed once again and the USDA will be reinstating both the domestic and international regulations associated with the south Texas onions Federal Marketing Order.

sdfAMS is initiating a rulemaking process to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on a proposed rule to terminate the marketing order.

"In order to provide for a smooth transition and because the Texas onion season has already started, the requirement for grading and certification services performed by the Federal and Federal-State Inspection Service remain in effect until the rulemaking process concludes," said Sonia N. Jimenez, deputy administrator for Specialty Crops Program.

Enforcement of the obligation on the part of regulated handlers to pay assessments to the South Texas Onion Committee remains suspended.

At this point all imported onions are again subject to an inspection requirement prior to entering the U.S. marketplace; all Texas onions must be packed and reviewed prior to shipping; Texas onions grown in the 35 counties of the marketing order must comply with the minimum requirements of the marketing order; U.S. grade No. 2, or “culls”, onions grown in Texas may only be sold to food banks and approved processors; and all shippers and packers of Texas onions must complete and return a Handler’s Packet to the South Texas Onion Committee.

The “Onions Grown in South Texas Marketing Order” requires USDA to conduct a continuance referendum every six years, and the USDA said the suspension of the Texas marketing order is a result of a referendum held by USDA’s concerning continuance of the marketing order.

USDA indicated that in the referendum held Sept. 21 through Oct. 13, 2020, “57 percent of south Texas onion producers, representing 53 percent of the volume produced by those voting, favored continuing the marketing order. For the marketing order to continue, two-thirds or more of producers voting, or producers representing the production of two-thirds or more of the volume produced, needed to vote in favor of continuance.”

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