( USDA )

Onion growers and handlers will vote in August on a proposal to downsize the South Texas Onion Committee to reflect industry consolidation.

In a July 30 notice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the proposal would be voted on in a referendum from Aug. 6 to Aug. 27.

The USDA said the proposal would reduce size of the committee from 34 to 26 members, removing one voting producer and one voting handler member, and one producer and one handler alternate member from each of the two districts.

The USDA said the proposal and other related amendments were unanimously recommended by the committee at a June 7 meeting.

The USDA said that over the past 15 years, there has been a 31% decrease in the number of onion producers, and a 34% decrease in the number of handlers in the production area. The notice said that many seats on the committee remain vacant, and it has been challenging to find sufficient nominees. 

“Having a smaller size committee should enable it to fulfill those membership and quorum requirements,” according to the proposal.

There are about 30 handlers of South Texas onions, according to the USDA. Total shipments were about 3 million 50-pound equivalents for the 2015-16 season.