Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Salable Quantities and Allotment Percentages for the 2008-2009 Marketing Year, 8825-8830 [E8-2922]

Download as PDF 8825 Proposed Rules Federal Register Vol. 73, No. 32 Friday, February 15, 2008 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 985 [Docket Nos. AMS–FV–07–0135; FV08–985– 2 PR] Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Salable Quantities and Allotment Percentages for the 2008– 2009 Marketing Year Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS AGENCY: SUMMARY: This rule would establish the quantity of spearmint oil produced in the Far West, by class that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2008–2009 marketing year, which begins on June 1, 2008. This rule invites comments on the establishment of salable quantities and allotment percentages for Class 1 (Scotch) spearmint oil of 993,067 pounds and 50 percent, respectively, and for Class 3 (Native) spearmint oil of 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent, respectively. The Spearmint Oil Administrative Committee (Committee), the agency responsible for local administration of the marketing order for spearmint oil produced in the Far West, recommended these limitations for the purpose of avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices to help maintain stability in the spearmint oil market. DATES: Comments must be received by March 17, 2008. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this proposal. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Fax: (202) 720–8938; or Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:07 Feb 14, 2008 Jkt 214001 docket number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan M. Coleman, Marketing Specialist, and Gary D. Olson, Regional Manager, Northwest Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (503) 326– 2724; Fax: (503) 326–7440; or E-mail: Sue.Coleman@usda.gov or GaryD.Olson@usda.gov. Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Telephone: (202) 720– 2491, Fax: (202) 720–8938, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 985 (7 CFR Part 985), as amended, regulating the handling of spearmint oil produced in the Far West (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and designated parts of Nevada and Utah), hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘order.’’ This order is effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601–674), hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘Act.’’ The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866. This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, salable quantities and allotment percentages may be established for classes of spearmint oil produced in the Far West. This proposed rule would establish the quantity of spearmint oil produced in the Far West, by class, which may be purchased from or handled for producers by handlers during the 2008– 2009 marketing year, which begins on June 1, 2008. This rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule. The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA’s ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling. Pursuant to authority in §§ 985.50, 985.51, and 985.52 of the order, the Committee, with seven of its eight members present, met on October 17, 2007, and recommended salable quantities and allotment percentages for both classes of oil for the 2008–2009 marketing year. The Committee unanimously recommended the establishment of a salable quantity and allotment percentage for Scotch spearmint oil of 993,067 pounds and 50 percent, respectively. For Native spearmint oil, the Committee unanimously recommended the establishment of a salable quantity and allotment percentage of 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent, respectively. This rule would limit the amount of spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2008–2009 marketing year, which begins on June 1, 2008. Salable quantities and allotment percentages have been placed into effect each season since the order’s inception in 1980. The U.S. production of Scotch spearmint oil is concentrated in the Far West, which includes Washington, Idaho, and Oregon and a portion of Nevada and Utah. Scotch spearmint oil is also produced in the Midwest states of Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as in the States of Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The production area covered by the marketing order currently accounts for approximately 62 percent of the annual U.S. sales of Scotch spearmint oil. When the order became effective in 1980, the Far West had 72 percent of the world’s sales of Scotch spearmint oil. E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS 8826 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2008 / Proposed Rules While the Far West is still the leading producer of Scotch spearmint oil, its share of world sales is now estimated to be about 46 percent. This loss in world sales for the Far West region is directly attributed to the increase in global production. Other factors that have played a significant role include the overall quality of the imported oil and technological advances that allow for more blending of lower quality oils. Such factors have provided the Committee with challenges in accurately predicting trade demand for Scotch oil. This, in turn, has made it difficult to balance available supplies with demand and to achieve the Committee’s overall goal of stabilizing producer and market prices. The marketing order has continued to contribute to price and general market stabilization for Far West producers. The Committee, as well as spearmint oil producers and handlers attending the October 17, 2007, meeting, estimated that the 2007–2008 producer price of Scotch oil would be $14.00 to $15.00 per pound. However, there is very little forward contracting being done at the present time and producers are wary of doing so because of significant increases in their cost of production. This producer price is approaching the cost of production for most producers as indicated in a study from the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service (WSU), which estimates production costs to be between $13.50 and $15.00 per pound. However, this study was completed in 2001 and fuel costs alone have doubled in price. The rises in fuel costs have also increased other petroleum based products, such as tires, fertilizer, and chemicals, which also increase production costs. This low level of producer returns has caused an overall reduction in acreage. When the order became effective in 1980, the Far West region had 9,702 acres of Scotch spearmint. The Committee estimates that the 2007–2008 acreage of Scotch spearmint was about 6,514 acres. Based on the reduced Scotch spearmint acreage, the Committee estimates that production for the 2007–2008 marketing season will be about 793,577 pounds. The Committee recommended the 2008–2009 Scotch spearmint oil salable quantity (993,067 pounds) and allotment percentage (50 percent) utilizing sales estimates for 2008–2009 Scotch spearmint oil as provided by several of the industry’s handlers, as well as historical and current Scotch spearmint oil sales levels. The Committee is estimating that about 920,000 pounds of Scotch spearmint oil, VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:07 Feb 14, 2008 Jkt 214001 on average, may be sold during the 2008–2009 marketing year. This will eliminate all available supplies, including the reserve pool, resulting in a zero carry-in on June 1, 2008. Therefore, the recommended salable quantity of 993,067 pounds results in a total available supply of Scotch spearmint oil next year of about 993,067 pounds. The recommendation for the 2008– 2009 Scotch spearmint oil volume regulation is consistent with the Committee’s stated intent of keeping adequate supplies available at all times, while attempting to stabilize prices at a level adequate to sustain the producers. Furthermore, the recommendation takes into consideration the industry’s desire to compete with less expensive oil produced outside the regulated area. Although Native spearmint oil producers are facing market conditions similar to those affecting the Scotch spearmint oil market, the market share is quite different. Over 90 percent of the U.S. production of Native spearmint is produced within the Far West production area. Also, most of the world’s supply of Native spearmint is produced in the United States. The supply and demand characteristics of the current Native spearmint oil market, combined with the stabilizing impact of the marketing order, have kept the price relatively steady. The average price for the five year period ending in 2006 is $9.80, which is $0.06 higher than the average price for the ten year period (1997– 2006) of $9.74. The Committee considers these levels too low for the majority of producers to maintain viability. The WSU study referenced earlier indicates that the cost of producing Native spearmint oil ranges from $10.26 to $10.92 per pound. Similar to Scotch, the low level of producer returns has also caused an overall reduction in Native spearmint acreage. When the order became effective in 1980, the Far West region had 12,153 acres of Native spearmint. The Committee estimates that the 2007– 2008 acreage of Native spearmint was about 8,006 acres. Based on the reduced Native spearmint acreage, the Committee estimates that production for the 2007–2008 marketing season will be about 1,178,745 pounds. The Committee recommended the 2008–2009 Native spearmint oil salable quantity (1,184,748 pounds) and allotment percentage (53 percent) utilizing sales estimates for 2008–2009 Native oil as provided by several of the industry’s handlers, as well as historical and current Native spearmint oil sales levels. The Committee is estimating that PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 about 1,250,000 pounds of Native spearmint oil, on average, may be sold during the 2008–2009 marketing year. When considered in conjunction with the estimated carry-in of 56,433 pounds of oil on June 1, 2008, the recommended salable quantity of 1,193,567 pounds results in a total available supply of Native spearmint oil next year of about 1,241,181 pounds. The Committee’s method of calculating the Native spearmint oil salable quantity and allotment percentage continues to primarily utilize information on price and available supply as they are affected by the estimated trade demand. The Committee’s stated intent is to make adequate supplies available to meet market needs and improve producer prices. The Committee believes that the order has contributed extensively to the stabilization of producer prices, which prior to 1980 experienced wide fluctuations from year to year. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, for example, the average price paid for both classes of spearmint oil ranged from $4.00 per pound to $11.10 per pound during the period between 1968 and 1980. Prices since the order’s inception, the period from 1980 to 2006, have generally stabilized at an average price of $12.69 per pound for Scotch spearmint oil and $9.89 per pound for Native spearmint oil. The Committee based its recommendation for the proposed salable quantity and allotment percentage for each class of spearmint oil for the 2008–2009 marketing year on the information discussed above, as well as the data outlined below. (1) Class 1 (Scotch) Spearmint Oil (A) Estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008—0 pounds. This figure is the difference between the revised 2007– 2008 marketing year total available supply of 816,718 pounds and the estimated 2007–2008 marketing year trade demand of 816,718 pounds. (B) Estimated trade demand for the 2008–2009 marketing year—920,000 pounds. This figure is based on input from producers at six Scotch spearmint oil production area meetings held in September 2007, as well as estimates provided by handlers and other meeting participants at the October 17, 2007, meeting. The average estimated trade demand provided at the five production area meetings is 924,583 pounds, whereas the estimated handler trade demand ranged from 875,000 to 950,000 pounds. The average of sales over the last five years is 760,152 pounds. E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2008 / Proposed Rules rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS (C) Salable quantity required in the 2008–2009 marketing year production— 920,000 pounds. This figure is the difference between the estimated 2008– 2009 marketing year trade demand (920,000 pounds) and the estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008 (0 pounds). (D) Total estimated allotment base for the 2008–2009 marketing year— 1,986,133 pounds. This figure represents a one percent increase over the revised 2007–2008 total allotment base. This figure is generally revised each year on June 1 due to producer base being lost due to the bona fide effort production provisions of § 985.53(e). The revision is usually minimal. (E) Computed allotment percentage— 46.3 percent. This percentage is computed by dividing the required salable quantity by the total estimated allotment base. (F) Recommended allotment percentage—50 percent. This recommendation is based on the Committee’s determination that the computed 46.3 percent would not adequately supply the potential 2008– 2009 market. (G) The Committee’s recommended salable quantity—993,067 pounds. This figure is the product of the recommended allotment percentage and the total estimated allotment base. (H) Estimated available supply for the 2008–2009 marketing year—993,067 pounds. This figure is the sum of the 2008–2009 recommended salable quantity (993,067 pounds) and the estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008 (0 pounds). (2) Class 3 (Native) Spearmint Oil (A) Estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008—56,433 pounds. The Committee’s estimated carry-in reflects anticipated increases to the salable quantity and allotment percentage that may be needed to meet demand during the remainder of the 2007–2008 marketing year. (B) Estimated trade demand for the 2008–2009 marketing year—1,250,000 pounds. This figure is based on input from producers at the six Native spearmint oil production area meetings held in September 2007, as well as estimates provided by handlers and other meeting participants at the October 17, 2007, meeting. The average estimated trade demand provided at the six production area meetings was 1,241,667 pounds, whereas the handler estimate ranged from 1,200,000 pounds to 1,250,000 pounds. (C) Salable quantity required from the 2008–2009 marketing year production— 1,193,567 pounds. This figure is the VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:07 Feb 14, 2008 Jkt 214001 difference between the estimated 2008– 2009 marketing year trade demand (1,250,000 pounds) and the estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008 (56,433 pounds). (D) Total estimated allotment base for the 2008–2009 marketing year— 2,235,374 pounds. This figure represents a one percent increase over the revised 2007–2008 total allotment base. This figure is generally revised each year on June 1 due to producer base being lost due to the bona fide effort production provisions of § 985.53(e). The revision is usually minimal. (E) Computed allotment percentage— 53.4 percent. This percentage is computed by dividing the required salable quantity by the total estimated allotment base. (F) Recommended allotment percentage—53 percent. This is the Committee’s recommendation based on the computed allotment percentage, the average of the computed allotment percentage figures from the six production area meetings (53.7 percent), and input from producers and handlers at the October 17, 2007, meeting. (G) The Committee’s recommended salable quantity—1,184,748 pounds. This figure is the product of the recommended allotment percentage and the total estimated allotment base. (H) Estimated available supply for the 2008–2009 marketing year—1,241,181 pounds. This figure is the sum of the 2008–2009 recommended salable quantity (1,184,748 pounds) and the estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008 (56,433 pounds). The salable quantity is the total quantity of each class of spearmint oil, which handlers may purchase from, or handle on behalf of producers during a marketing year. Each producer is allotted a share of the salable quantity by applying the allotment percentage to the producer’s allotment base for the applicable class of spearmint oil. The Committee’s recommended Scotch and Native spearmint oil salable quantities and allotment percentages of 993,067 pounds and 50 percent, and 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent, respectively, are based on the Committee’s goal of maintaining market stability by avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices, and the anticipated supply and trade demand during the 2008–2009 marketing year. The proposed salable quantities are not expected to cause a shortage of spearmint oil supplies. Any unanticipated or additional market demand for spearmint oil, which may develop during the marketing year, can be satisfied by an increase in the salable PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 8827 quantities. Both Scotch and Native spearmint oil producers who produce more than their annual allotments during the 2008–2009 marketing year may transfer such excess spearmint oil to a producer with spearmint oil production less than their annual allotment or put it into the reserve pool until November 1, 2008. This proposed regulation, if adopted, would be similar to regulations issued in prior seasons. Costs to producers and handlers resulting from this rule are expected to be offset by the benefits derived from a stable market and improved returns. In conjunction with the issuance of this proposed rule, USDA has reviewed the Committee’s marketing policy statement for the 2008–2009 marketing year. The Committee’s marketing policy statement, a requirement whenever the Committee recommends volume regulations, fully meets the intent of § 985.50 of the order. During its discussion of potential 2008–2009 salable quantities and allotment percentages, the Committee considered: (1) The estimated quantity of salable oil of each class held by producers and handlers; (2) the estimated demand for each class of oil; (3) the prospective production of each class of oil; (4) the total of allotment bases of each class of oil for the current marketing year and the estimated total of allotment bases of each class for the ensuing marketing year; (5) the quantity of reserve oil, by class, in storage; (6) producer prices of oil, including prices for each class of oil; and (7) general market conditions for each class of oil, including whether the estimated season average price to producers is likely to exceed parity. Conformity with the USDA’s ‘‘Guidelines for Fruit, Vegetable, and Specialty Crop Marketing Orders’’ has also been reviewed and confirmed. The establishment of these salable quantities and allotment percentages would allow for anticipated market needs. In determining anticipated market needs, consideration by the Committee was given to historical sales, as well as changes and trends in production and demand. This rule also provides producers with information on the amount of spearmint oil that should be produced for the 2008–2009 season in order to meet anticipated market demand. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this rule on small entities. Accordingly, E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS 8828 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2008 / Proposed Rules AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of business subject to such actions in order that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued pursuant to the Act, and the rules issued thereunder, are unique in that they are brought about through group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf. Thus, both statutes have small entity orientation and compatibility. There are eight spearmint oil handlers subject to regulation under the order, and approximately 58 producers of Scotch spearmint oil and approximately 90 producers of Native spearmint oil in the regulated production area. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts of less than $6,500,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000. Based on the SBA’s definition of small entities, the Committee estimates that 2 of the 8 handlers regulated by the order could be considered small entities. Most of the handlers are large corporations involved in the international trading of essential oils and the products of essential oils. In addition, the Committee estimates that 19 of the 58 Scotch spearmint oil producers and 21 of the 90 Native spearmint oil producers could be classified as small entities under the SBA definition. Thus, a majority of handlers and producers of Far West spearmint oil may not be classified as small entities. The Far West spearmint oil industry is characterized by producers whose farming operations generally involve more than one commodity, and whose income from farming operations is not exclusively dependent on the production of spearmint oil. A typical spearmint oil-producing operation has enough acreage for rotation such that the total acreage required to produce the crop is about one-third spearmint and two-thirds rotational crops. Thus, the typical spearmint oil producer has to have considerably more acreage than is planted to spearmint during any given season. Crop rotation is an essential cultural practice in the production of spearmint oil for weed, insect, and disease control. To remain economically viable with the added costs associated with spearmint oil production, most spearmint oil-producing farms fall into the SBA category of large businesses. Small spearmint oil producers generally are not as extensively VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:07 Feb 14, 2008 Jkt 214001 diversified as larger ones and as such are more at risk from market fluctuations. Such small producers generally need to market their entire annual allotment and do not have the luxury of having other crops to cushion seasons with poor spearmint oil returns. Conversely, large diversified producers have the potential to endure one or more seasons of poor spearmint oil markets because income from alternate crops could support the operation for a period of time. Being reasonably assured of a stable price and market provides small producing entities with the ability to maintain proper cash flow and to meet annual expenses. Thus, the market and price stability provided by the order potentially benefit the small producer more than such provisions benefit large producers. Even though a majority of handlers and producers of spearmint oil may not be classified as small entities, the volume control feature of this order has small entity orientation. This proposed rule would establish the quantity of spearmint oil produced in the Far West by class that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2008–2009 marketing year. The Committee recommended this rule to help maintain stability in the spearmint oil market by avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices. Establishing quantities to be purchased or handled during the marketing year through volume regulations allows producers to plan their spearmint planting and harvesting to meet expected market needs. The provisions of §§ 985.50, 985.51, and 985.52 of the order authorize this rule. Instability in the spearmint oil subsector of the mint industry is much more likely to originate on the supply side than the demand side. Fluctuations in yield and acreage planted from season-to-season tend to be larger than fluctuations in the amount purchased by buyers. Demand for spearmint oil tends to be relatively stable from year-to-year. The demand for spearmint oil is expected to grow slowly for the foreseeable future because the demand for consumer products that use spearmint oil will likely expand slowly, in line with population growth. Demand for spearmint oil at the farm level is derived from retail demand for spearmint-flavored products such as chewing gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash. The manufacturers of these products are by far the largest users of mint oil. However, spearmint flavoring is generally a very minor component of the products in which it is used, so changes in the raw product price have PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 no impact on retail prices for those goods. Spearmint oil production tends to be cyclical. Years of large production, with demand remaining reasonably stable, have led to periods in which large producer stocks of unsold spearmint oil have depressed producer prices for a number of years. Shortages and high prices may follow in subsequent years, as producers respond to price signals by cutting back production. The significant variability is illustrated by the fact that the coefficient of variation (a standard measure of variability; ‘‘CV’’) of Far West spearmint oil production from 1980 through 2006 was about 0.23. The CV for spearmint oil grower prices was about 0.14, well below the CV for production. This provides an indication of the price stabilizing impact of the marketing order. Production in the shortest marketing year was about 50 percent of the 26-year average (1.84 million pounds from 1980 through 2006) and the largest crop was approximately 167 percent of the 26year average. A key consequence is that in years of oversupply and low prices the season average producer price of spearmint oil is below the average cost of production (as measured by the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service). The wide fluctuations in supply and prices that result from this cycle, which was even more pronounced before the creation of the marketing order, can create liquidity problems for some producers. The marketing order was designed to reduce the price impacts of the cyclical swings in production. However, producers have been less able to weather these cycles in recent years because of the increase in production costs. While prices have been relatively steady, the cost of production has dramatically increased which has caused a hesitation by producers to plant. Producers are also enticed by the prices of alternative crops and their lower cost of production. In an effort to stabilize prices, the spearmint oil industry uses the volume control mechanisms authorized under the order. This authority allows the Committee to recommend a salable quantity and allotment percentage for each class of oil for the upcoming marketing year. The salable quantity for each class of oil is the total volume of oil that producers may sell during the marketing year. The allotment percentage for each class of spearmint oil is derived by dividing the salable quantity by the total allotment base. Each producer is then issued an annual allotment certificate, in pounds, E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2008 / Proposed Rules for the applicable class of oil, which is calculated by multiplying the producer’s allotment base by the applicable allotment percentage. This is the amount of oil for the applicable class that the producer can sell. By November 1 of each year, the Committee identifies any oil that individual producers have produced above the volume specified on their annual allotment certificates. This excess oil is placed in a reserve pool administered by the Committee. There is a reserve pool for each class of oil that may not be sold during the current marketing year unless USDA approves a Committee recommendation to make a portion of the pool available. However, limited quantities of reserve oil are typically sold to fill deficiencies. A deficiency occurs when on-farm production is less than a producer’s allotment. In that case, a producer’s own reserve oil can be sold to fill that deficiency. Excess production (higher than the producer’s allotment) can be sold to fill other producers’ deficiencies. All of this needs to take place by November 1. In any given year, the total available supply of spearmint oil is composed of current production plus carry-over stocks from the previous crop. The Committee seeks to maintain market stability by balancing supply and demand, and to close the marketing year with an appropriate level of carryout. If the industry has production in excess of the salable quantity, then the reserve pool absorbs the surplus quantity of spearmint oil, which goes unsold during that year, unless the oil is needed for unanticipated sales. Under its provisions, the order may attempt to stabilize prices by (1) limiting supply and establishing reserves in high production years, thus minimizing the price-depressing effect that excess producer stocks have on unsold spearmint oil, and (2) ensuring that stocks are available in short supply years when prices would otherwise increase dramatically. The reserve pool stocks grown in large production years are drawn down in short crop years. An econometric model was used to assess the impact that volume control has on the prices producers receive for their commodity. Without volume control, spearmint oil markets would likely be over-supplied, resulting in low producer prices and a large volume of oil stored and carried over to the next crop year. The model estimates how much lower producer prices would likely be in the absence of volume controls. The Committee estimated the trade demand for the 2008–2009 marketing VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:07 Feb 14, 2008 Jkt 214001 year for both classes of oil at 2,170,000 pounds, and that the expected combined carry-in will be 56,433 pounds. This results in a combined required salable quantity of 2,113,567 pounds. Therefore, with volume control, sales by producers for the 2008–2009 marketing year would be limited to 2,177,815 pounds (the recommended salable quantity for both classes of spearmint oil). The recommended salable percentages, upon which 2008–2009 producer allotments are based, are 50 percent for Scotch and 53 percent for Native. Without volume controls, producers would not be limited to these allotment levels, and could produce and sell additional spearmint. The econometric model estimated a $1.40 decline in the season average producer price per pound (from both classes of spearmint oil) resulting from the higher quantities that would be produced and marketed without volume control. The surplus situation for the spearmint oil market that would exist without volume controls in 2008–2009 also would likely dampen prospects for improved producer prices in future years because of the buildup in stocks. The use of volume controls allows the industry to fully supply spearmint oil markets while avoiding the negative consequences of over-supplying these markets. The use of volume controls is believed to have little or no effect on consumer prices of products containing spearmint oil and will not result in fewer retail sales of such products. The Committee discussed alternatives to the recommendations contained in this rule for both classes of spearmint oil. The Committee discussed and rejected the idea of recommending that there not be any volume regulation for both classes of spearmint oil because of the severe price-depressing effects that would occur without volume control. The Committee considered various alternative levels of volume control for Scotch spearmint oil, including increasing the percentage to a less restrictive level, or decreasing the percentage. After considerable discussion the Committee unanimously determined that 993,067 pounds and 50 percent would be the most effective salable quantity and allotment percentage, respectively, for the 2008– 2009 marketing year. The Committee also considered various alternative levels of volume control for Native spearmint oil. After considerable discussion the Committee unanimously determined that 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent would be the most effective salable quantity and PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 8829 allotment percentage, respectively, for the 2008–2009 marketing year. As noted earlier, the Committee’s recommendation to establish salable quantities and allotment percentages for both classes of spearmint oil was made after careful consideration of all available information, including: (1) The estimated quantity of salable oil of each class held by producers and handlers; (2) the estimated demand for each class of oil; (3) the prospective production of each class of oil; (4) the total of allotment bases of each class of oil for the current marketing year and the estimated total of allotment bases of each class for the ensuing marketing year; (5) the quantity of reserve oil, by class, in storage; (6) producer prices of oil, including prices for each class of oil; and (7) general market conditions for each class of oil, including whether the estimated season average price to producers is likely to exceed parity. Based on its review, the Committee believes that the salable quantity and allotment percentage levels recommended would achieve the objectives sought. Without any regulations in effect, the Committee believes the industry would return to the pronounced cyclical price patterns that occurred prior to the order, and that prices in 2008–2009 would decline substantially below current levels. As stated earlier, the Committee believes that the order has contributed extensively to the stabilization of producer prices, which prior to 1980 experienced wide fluctuations from year-to-year. National Agricultural Statistics Service records show that the average price paid for both classes of spearmint oil ranged from $4.00 per pound to $11.10 per pound during the period between 1968 and 1980. Prices have been consistently more stable since the marketing order’s inception in 1980, with an average price for the period from 1980 to 2006 of $12.69 per pound for Scotch spearmint oil and $9.89 per pound for Native spearmint oil. According to the Committee, the recommended salable quantities and allotment percentages are expected to achieve the goals of market and price stability. As previously stated, annual salable quantities and allotment percentages have been issued for both classes of spearmint oil since the order’s inception. Reporting and recordkeeping requirements have remained the same for each year of regulation. These requirements have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under OMB Control No. 0581–0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. Accordingly, this E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8830 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2008 / Proposed Rules rule would not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large spearmint oil producers and handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. The AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this rule. In addition, the Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the spearmint oil industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the October 17, 2007, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit information on the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/ fv/moab.html. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons the opportunity to respond to this proposal. This comment period is deemed appropriate so a final determination might be made prior to June 1, 2008, the beginning of the 2008–2009 marketing year. All written comments timely received will be considered before a final determination is made on this matter. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 985 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS Marketing agreements, Oils and fats, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Spearmint oil. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 985 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 985—MARKETING ORDER REGULATING THE HANDLING OF SPEARMINT OIL PRODUCED IN THE FAR WEST 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 985 continues to read as follows: VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:07 Feb 14, 2008 Jkt 214001 Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. A new § 985.227 is added to read as follows: [Note: This section will not appear in the Code of Federal Regulations.] § 985.227 Salable quantities and allotment percentages—2008–2009 marketing year. The salable quantity and allotment percentage for each class of spearmint oil during the marketing year beginning on June 1, 2008, shall be as follows: (a) Class 1 (Scotch) oil—a salable quantity of 993,067 pounds and an allotment percentage of 50 percent. (b) Class 3 (Native) oil—a salable quantity of 1,184,748 pounds and an allotment percentage of 53 percent. Dated: February 12, 2008. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E8–2922 Filed 2–14–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 10 CFR Part 35 RIN 3150–AI26 [NRC–2008–0071] Medical Use of Byproduct Material— Amendments/Medical Event Definitions Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is making available preliminary draft rule language to amend its regulations concerning medical use of byproduct material. The goal of this rulemaking is to better define medical events arising from permanent implant brachytherapy procedures. The proposed amendments will change the criteria for defining a medical event for permanent implant brachytherapy from dose based to activity based, will add a requirement to report as a medical event any administration requiring a written directive if a written directive was not prepared, and will make certain administrative and clarification changes. The availability of the preliminary draft rule language is intended to inform stakeholders of the current status of the NRC’s activities and solicit public comments on the information at this time. Comments may be provided as indicated under the PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ADDRESSES heading. The NRC may post updates periodically under Docket # NRC–2008–0071 on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov that may be of interest to stakeholders. DATES: Submit comments by February 26, 2008. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before this date. ADDRESSES: Please include the following number RIN 3150–AI26 in the subject line of your comments. Comments on rulemakings submitted in writing or in electronic form will be made available to the public in their entirety on the NRC’s Web site in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) and on regulations.gov. Personal information, such as your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, etc., will not be removed from your submission. You may submit comments by any one of the following methods. Electronically: Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (Docket # NRC– 2008–0071) and follow instructions for submitting comments. Address questions about this docket to Carol Gallagher 301–415–5905; e-mail cag@nrc.gov. Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff. E-mail comments to: Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov. If you do not receive a reply e-mail confirming that we have received your comments, contact us directly at 301–415–1966. Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Federal workdays. (Telephone 301–415– 1966). Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 301– 415–1101. Publicly available documents related to this rulemaking may be viewed electronically on the public computers located at the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR), O1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a fee. Publicly available documents created or received at the NRC after November 1, 1999, are available electronically at the NRC’s Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ adams.html. From this site, the public can gain entry into ADAMS, which provides text and image files of NRC’s E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 32 (Friday, February 15, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 8825-8830]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-2922]


========================================================================
Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2008 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 8825]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 985

[Docket Nos. AMS-FV-07-0135; FV08-985-2 PR]


Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced 
in the Far West; Salable Quantities and Allotment Percentages for the 
2008-2009 Marketing Year

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This rule would establish the quantity of spearmint oil 
produced in the Far West, by class that handlers may purchase from, or 
handle for, producers during the 2008-2009 marketing year, which begins 
on June 1, 2008. This rule invites comments on the establishment of 
salable quantities and allotment percentages for Class 1 (Scotch) 
spearmint oil of 993,067 pounds and 50 percent, respectively, and for 
Class 3 (Native) spearmint oil of 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent, 
respectively. The Spearmint Oil Administrative Committee (Committee), 
the agency responsible for local administration of the marketing order 
for spearmint oil produced in the Far West, recommended these 
limitations for the purpose of avoiding extreme fluctuations in 
supplies and prices to help maintain stability in the spearmint oil 
market.

DATES: Comments must be received by March 17, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this proposal. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, 
Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or Internet:  http://
www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the docket number 
and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and 
will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the 
Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http:/
/www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan M. Coleman, Marketing 
Specialist, and Gary D. Olson, Regional Manager, Northwest Marketing 
Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and 
Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (503) 326-2724; Fax: (503) 
326-7440; or E-mail: Sue.Coleman@usda.gov or GaryD.Olson@usda.gov.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration 
Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence 
Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-
2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing Order 
No. 985 (7 CFR Part 985), as amended, regulating the handling of 
spearmint oil produced in the Far West (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and 
designated parts of Nevada and Utah), hereinafter referred to as the 
``order.'' This order is effective under the Agricultural Marketing 
Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter 
referred to as the ``Act.''
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, salable 
quantities and allotment percentages may be established for classes of 
spearmint oil produced in the Far West. This proposed rule would 
establish the quantity of spearmint oil produced in the Far West, by 
class, which may be purchased from or handled for producers by handlers 
during the 2008-2009 marketing year, which begins on June 1, 2008. This 
rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or 
policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this 
rule.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the 
Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition 
stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation 
imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and 
request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A 
handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. 
After the hearing USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides 
that the district court of the United States in any district in which 
the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of 
business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    Pursuant to authority in Sec. Sec.  985.50, 985.51, and 985.52 of 
the order, the Committee, with seven of its eight members present, met 
on October 17, 2007, and recommended salable quantities and allotment 
percentages for both classes of oil for the 2008-2009 marketing year. 
The Committee unanimously recommended the establishment of a salable 
quantity and allotment percentage for Scotch spearmint oil of 993,067 
pounds and 50 percent, respectively. For Native spearmint oil, the 
Committee unanimously recommended the establishment of a salable 
quantity and allotment percentage of 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent, 
respectively.
    This rule would limit the amount of spearmint oil that handlers may 
purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2008-2009 marketing 
year, which begins on June 1, 2008. Salable quantities and allotment 
percentages have been placed into effect each season since the order's 
inception in 1980.
    The U.S. production of Scotch spearmint oil is concentrated in the 
Far West, which includes Washington, Idaho, and Oregon and a portion of 
Nevada and Utah. Scotch spearmint oil is also produced in the Midwest 
states of Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as in the States of 
Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The production area 
covered by the marketing order currently accounts for approximately 62 
percent of the annual U.S. sales of Scotch spearmint oil.
    When the order became effective in 1980, the Far West had 72 
percent of the world's sales of Scotch spearmint oil.

[[Page 8826]]

While the Far West is still the leading producer of Scotch spearmint 
oil, its share of world sales is now estimated to be about 46 percent. 
This loss in world sales for the Far West region is directly attributed 
to the increase in global production. Other factors that have played a 
significant role include the overall quality of the imported oil and 
technological advances that allow for more blending of lower quality 
oils. Such factors have provided the Committee with challenges in 
accurately predicting trade demand for Scotch oil. This, in turn, has 
made it difficult to balance available supplies with demand and to 
achieve the Committee's overall goal of stabilizing producer and market 
prices.
    The marketing order has continued to contribute to price and 
general market stabilization for Far West producers. The Committee, as 
well as spearmint oil producers and handlers attending the October 17, 
2007, meeting, estimated that the 2007-2008 producer price of Scotch 
oil would be $14.00 to $15.00 per pound. However, there is very little 
forward contracting being done at the present time and producers are 
wary of doing so because of significant increases in their cost of 
production. This producer price is approaching the cost of production 
for most producers as indicated in a study from the Washington State 
University Cooperative Extension Service (WSU), which estimates 
production costs to be between $13.50 and $15.00 per pound. However, 
this study was completed in 2001 and fuel costs alone have doubled in 
price. The rises in fuel costs have also increased other petroleum 
based products, such as tires, fertilizer, and chemicals, which also 
increase production costs.
    This low level of producer returns has caused an overall reduction 
in acreage. When the order became effective in 1980, the Far West 
region had 9,702 acres of Scotch spearmint. The Committee estimates 
that the 2007-2008 acreage of Scotch spearmint was about 6,514 acres. 
Based on the reduced Scotch spearmint acreage, the Committee estimates 
that production for the 2007-2008 marketing season will be about 
793,577 pounds.
    The Committee recommended the 2008-2009 Scotch spearmint oil 
salable quantity (993,067 pounds) and allotment percentage (50 percent) 
utilizing sales estimates for 2008-2009 Scotch spearmint oil as 
provided by several of the industry's handlers, as well as historical 
and current Scotch spearmint oil sales levels. The Committee is 
estimating that about 920,000 pounds of Scotch spearmint oil, on 
average, may be sold during the 2008-2009 marketing year. This will 
eliminate all available supplies, including the reserve pool, resulting 
in a zero carry-in on June 1, 2008. Therefore, the recommended salable 
quantity of 993,067 pounds results in a total available supply of 
Scotch spearmint oil next year of about 993,067 pounds.
    The recommendation for the 2008-2009 Scotch spearmint oil volume 
regulation is consistent with the Committee's stated intent of keeping 
adequate supplies available at all times, while attempting to stabilize 
prices at a level adequate to sustain the producers. Furthermore, the 
recommendation takes into consideration the industry's desire to 
compete with less expensive oil produced outside the regulated area.
    Although Native spearmint oil producers are facing market 
conditions similar to those affecting the Scotch spearmint oil market, 
the market share is quite different. Over 90 percent of the U.S. 
production of Native spearmint is produced within the Far West 
production area. Also, most of the world's supply of Native spearmint 
is produced in the United States.
    The supply and demand characteristics of the current Native 
spearmint oil market, combined with the stabilizing impact of the 
marketing order, have kept the price relatively steady. The average 
price for the five year period ending in 2006 is $9.80, which is $0.06 
higher than the average price for the ten year period (1997-2006) of 
$9.74. The Committee considers these levels too low for the majority of 
producers to maintain viability. The WSU study referenced earlier 
indicates that the cost of producing Native spearmint oil ranges from 
$10.26 to $10.92 per pound.
    Similar to Scotch, the low level of producer returns has also 
caused an overall reduction in Native spearmint acreage. When the order 
became effective in 1980, the Far West region had 12,153 acres of 
Native spearmint. The Committee estimates that the 2007-2008 acreage of 
Native spearmint was about 8,006 acres. Based on the reduced Native 
spearmint acreage, the Committee estimates that production for the 
2007-2008 marketing season will be about 1,178,745 pounds.
    The Committee recommended the 2008-2009 Native spearmint oil 
salable quantity (1,184,748 pounds) and allotment percentage (53 
percent) utilizing sales estimates for 2008-2009 Native oil as provided 
by several of the industry's handlers, as well as historical and 
current Native spearmint oil sales levels. The Committee is estimating 
that about 1,250,000 pounds of Native spearmint oil, on average, may be 
sold during the 2008-2009 marketing year. When considered in 
conjunction with the estimated carry-in of 56,433 pounds of oil on June 
1, 2008, the recommended salable quantity of 1,193,567 pounds results 
in a total available supply of Native spearmint oil next year of about 
1,241,181 pounds.
    The Committee's method of calculating the Native spearmint oil 
salable quantity and allotment percentage continues to primarily 
utilize information on price and available supply as they are affected 
by the estimated trade demand. The Committee's stated intent is to make 
adequate supplies available to meet market needs and improve producer 
prices.
    The Committee believes that the order has contributed extensively 
to the stabilization of producer prices, which prior to 1980 
experienced wide fluctuations from year to year. According to the 
National Agricultural Statistics Service, for example, the average 
price paid for both classes of spearmint oil ranged from $4.00 per 
pound to $11.10 per pound during the period between 1968 and 1980. 
Prices since the order's inception, the period from 1980 to 2006, have 
generally stabilized at an average price of $12.69 per pound for Scotch 
spearmint oil and $9.89 per pound for Native spearmint oil.
    The Committee based its recommendation for the proposed salable 
quantity and allotment percentage for each class of spearmint oil for 
the 2008-2009 marketing year on the information discussed above, as 
well as the data outlined below.

(1) Class 1 (Scotch) Spearmint Oil

    (A) Estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008--0 pounds. This figure is 
the difference between the revised 2007-2008 marketing year total 
available supply of 816,718 pounds and the estimated 2007-2008 
marketing year trade demand of 816,718 pounds.
    (B) Estimated trade demand for the 2008-2009 marketing year--
920,000 pounds. This figure is based on input from producers at six 
Scotch spearmint oil production area meetings held in September 2007, 
as well as estimates provided by handlers and other meeting 
participants at the October 17, 2007, meeting. The average estimated 
trade demand provided at the five production area meetings is 924,583 
pounds, whereas the estimated handler trade demand ranged from 875,000 
to 950,000 pounds. The average of sales over the last five years is 
760,152 pounds.

[[Page 8827]]

    (C) Salable quantity required in the 2008-2009 marketing year 
production--920,000 pounds. This figure is the difference between the 
estimated 2008-2009 marketing year trade demand (920,000 pounds) and 
the estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008 (0 pounds).
    (D) Total estimated allotment base for the 2008-2009 marketing 
year--1,986,133 pounds. This figure represents a one percent increase 
over the revised 2007-2008 total allotment base. This figure is 
generally revised each year on June 1 due to producer base being lost 
due to the bona fide effort production provisions of Sec.  985.53(e). 
The revision is usually minimal.
    (E) Computed allotment percentage--46.3 percent. This percentage is 
computed by dividing the required salable quantity by the total 
estimated allotment base.
    (F) Recommended allotment percentage--50 percent. This 
recommendation is based on the Committee's determination that the 
computed 46.3 percent would not adequately supply the potential 2008-
2009 market.
    (G) The Committee's recommended salable quantity--993,067 pounds. 
This figure is the product of the recommended allotment percentage and 
the total estimated allotment base.
    (H) Estimated available supply for the 2008-2009 marketing year--
993,067 pounds. This figure is the sum of the 2008-2009 recommended 
salable quantity (993,067 pounds) and the estimated carry-in on June 1, 
2008 (0 pounds).

(2) Class 3 (Native) Spearmint Oil

    (A) Estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008--56,433 pounds. The 
Committee's estimated carry-in reflects anticipated increases to the 
salable quantity and allotment percentage that may be needed to meet 
demand during the remainder of the 2007-2008 marketing year.
    (B) Estimated trade demand for the 2008-2009 marketing year--
1,250,000 pounds. This figure is based on input from producers at the 
six Native spearmint oil production area meetings held in September 
2007, as well as estimates provided by handlers and other meeting 
participants at the October 17, 2007, meeting. The average estimated 
trade demand provided at the six production area meetings was 1,241,667 
pounds, whereas the handler estimate ranged from 1,200,000 pounds to 
1,250,000 pounds.
    (C) Salable quantity required from the 2008-2009 marketing year 
production--1,193,567 pounds. This figure is the difference between the 
estimated 2008-2009 marketing year trade demand (1,250,000 pounds) and 
the estimated carry-in on June 1, 2008 (56,433 pounds).
    (D) Total estimated allotment base for the 2008-2009 marketing 
year--2,235,374 pounds. This figure represents a one percent increase 
over the revised 2007-2008 total allotment base. This figure is 
generally revised each year on June 1 due to producer base being lost 
due to the bona fide effort production provisions of Sec.  985.53(e). 
The revision is usually minimal.
    (E) Computed allotment percentage--53.4 percent. This percentage is 
computed by dividing the required salable quantity by the total 
estimated allotment base.
    (F) Recommended allotment percentage--53 percent. This is the 
Committee's recommendation based on the computed allotment percentage, 
the average of the computed allotment percentage figures from the six 
production area meetings (53.7 percent), and input from producers and 
handlers at the October 17, 2007, meeting.
    (G) The Committee's recommended salable quantity--1,184,748 pounds. 
This figure is the product of the recommended allotment percentage and 
the total estimated allotment base.
    (H) Estimated available supply for the 2008-2009 marketing year--
1,241,181 pounds. This figure is the sum of the 2008-2009 recommended 
salable quantity (1,184,748 pounds) and the estimated carry-in on June 
1, 2008 (56,433 pounds).
    The salable quantity is the total quantity of each class of 
spearmint oil, which handlers may purchase from, or handle on behalf of 
producers during a marketing year. Each producer is allotted a share of 
the salable quantity by applying the allotment percentage to the 
producer's allotment base for the applicable class of spearmint oil.
    The Committee's recommended Scotch and Native spearmint oil salable 
quantities and allotment percentages of 993,067 pounds and 50 percent, 
and 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent, respectively, are based on the 
Committee's goal of maintaining market stability by avoiding extreme 
fluctuations in supplies and prices, and the anticipated supply and 
trade demand during the 2008-2009 marketing year. The proposed salable 
quantities are not expected to cause a shortage of spearmint oil 
supplies. Any unanticipated or additional market demand for spearmint 
oil, which may develop during the marketing year, can be satisfied by 
an increase in the salable quantities. Both Scotch and Native spearmint 
oil producers who produce more than their annual allotments during the 
2008-2009 marketing year may transfer such excess spearmint oil to a 
producer with spearmint oil production less than their annual allotment 
or put it into the reserve pool until November 1, 2008.
    This proposed regulation, if adopted, would be similar to 
regulations issued in prior seasons. Costs to producers and handlers 
resulting from this rule are expected to be offset by the benefits 
derived from a stable market and improved returns. In conjunction with 
the issuance of this proposed rule, USDA has reviewed the Committee's 
marketing policy statement for the 2008-2009 marketing year. The 
Committee's marketing policy statement, a requirement whenever the 
Committee recommends volume regulations, fully meets the intent of 
Sec.  985.50 of the order. During its discussion of potential 2008-2009 
salable quantities and allotment percentages, the Committee considered: 
(1) The estimated quantity of salable oil of each class held by 
producers and handlers; (2) the estimated demand for each class of oil; 
(3) the prospective production of each class of oil; (4) the total of 
allotment bases of each class of oil for the current marketing year and 
the estimated total of allotment bases of each class for the ensuing 
marketing year; (5) the quantity of reserve oil, by class, in storage; 
(6) producer prices of oil, including prices for each class of oil; and 
(7) general market conditions for each class of oil, including whether 
the estimated season average price to producers is likely to exceed 
parity. Conformity with the USDA's ``Guidelines for Fruit, Vegetable, 
and Specialty Crop Marketing Orders'' has also been reviewed and 
confirmed.
    The establishment of these salable quantities and allotment 
percentages would allow for anticipated market needs. In determining 
anticipated market needs, consideration by the Committee was given to 
historical sales, as well as changes and trends in production and 
demand. This rule also provides producers with information on the 
amount of spearmint oil that should be produced for the 2008-2009 
season in order to meet anticipated market demand.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the 
economic impact of this rule on small entities. Accordingly,

[[Page 8828]]

AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
business subject to such actions in order that small businesses will 
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued 
pursuant to the Act, and the rules issued thereunder, are unique in 
that they are brought about through group action of essentially small 
entities acting on their own behalf. Thus, both statutes have small 
entity orientation and compatibility.
    There are eight spearmint oil handlers subject to regulation under 
the order, and approximately 58 producers of Scotch spearmint oil and 
approximately 90 producers of Native spearmint oil in the regulated 
production area. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the 
Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) as those having 
annual receipts of less than $6,500,000, and small agricultural 
producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than 
$750,000.
    Based on the SBA's definition of small entities, the Committee 
estimates that 2 of the 8 handlers regulated by the order could be 
considered small entities. Most of the handlers are large corporations 
involved in the international trading of essential oils and the 
products of essential oils. In addition, the Committee estimates that 
19 of the 58 Scotch spearmint oil producers and 21 of the 90 Native 
spearmint oil producers could be classified as small entities under the 
SBA definition. Thus, a majority of handlers and producers of Far West 
spearmint oil may not be classified as small entities.
    The Far West spearmint oil industry is characterized by producers 
whose farming operations generally involve more than one commodity, and 
whose income from farming operations is not exclusively dependent on 
the production of spearmint oil. A typical spearmint oil-producing 
operation has enough acreage for rotation such that the total acreage 
required to produce the crop is about one-third spearmint and two-
thirds rotational crops. Thus, the typical spearmint oil producer has 
to have considerably more acreage than is planted to spearmint during 
any given season. Crop rotation is an essential cultural practice in 
the production of spearmint oil for weed, insect, and disease control. 
To remain economically viable with the added costs associated with 
spearmint oil production, most spearmint oil-producing farms fall into 
the SBA category of large businesses.
    Small spearmint oil producers generally are not as extensively 
diversified as larger ones and as such are more at risk from market 
fluctuations. Such small producers generally need to market their 
entire annual allotment and do not have the luxury of having other 
crops to cushion seasons with poor spearmint oil returns. Conversely, 
large diversified producers have the potential to endure one or more 
seasons of poor spearmint oil markets because income from alternate 
crops could support the operation for a period of time. Being 
reasonably assured of a stable price and market provides small 
producing entities with the ability to maintain proper cash flow and to 
meet annual expenses. Thus, the market and price stability provided by 
the order potentially benefit the small producer more than such 
provisions benefit large producers. Even though a majority of handlers 
and producers of spearmint oil may not be classified as small entities, 
the volume control feature of this order has small entity orientation.
    This proposed rule would establish the quantity of spearmint oil 
produced in the Far West by class that handlers may purchase from, or 
handle for, producers during the 2008-2009 marketing year. The 
Committee recommended this rule to help maintain stability in the 
spearmint oil market by avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and 
prices. Establishing quantities to be purchased or handled during the 
marketing year through volume regulations allows producers to plan 
their spearmint planting and harvesting to meet expected market needs. 
The provisions of Sec. Sec.  985.50, 985.51, and 985.52 of the order 
authorize this rule.
    Instability in the spearmint oil sub-sector of the mint industry is 
much more likely to originate on the supply side than the demand side. 
Fluctuations in yield and acreage planted from season-to-season tend to 
be larger than fluctuations in the amount purchased by buyers. Demand 
for spearmint oil tends to be relatively stable from year-to-year. The 
demand for spearmint oil is expected to grow slowly for the foreseeable 
future because the demand for consumer products that use spearmint oil 
will likely expand slowly, in line with population growth.
    Demand for spearmint oil at the farm level is derived from retail 
demand for spearmint-flavored products such as chewing gum, toothpaste, 
and mouthwash. The manufacturers of these products are by far the 
largest users of mint oil. However, spearmint flavoring is generally a 
very minor component of the products in which it is used, so changes in 
the raw product price have no impact on retail prices for those goods.
    Spearmint oil production tends to be cyclical. Years of large 
production, with demand remaining reasonably stable, have led to 
periods in which large producer stocks of unsold spearmint oil have 
depressed producer prices for a number of years. Shortages and high 
prices may follow in subsequent years, as producers respond to price 
signals by cutting back production.
    The significant variability is illustrated by the fact that the 
coefficient of variation (a standard measure of variability; ``CV'') of 
Far West spearmint oil production from 1980 through 2006 was about 
0.23. The CV for spearmint oil grower prices was about 0.14, well below 
the CV for production. This provides an indication of the price 
stabilizing impact of the marketing order.
    Production in the shortest marketing year was about 50 percent of 
the 26-year average (1.84 million pounds from 1980 through 2006) and 
the largest crop was approximately 167 percent of the 26-year average. 
A key consequence is that in years of oversupply and low prices the 
season average producer price of spearmint oil is below the average 
cost of production (as measured by the Washington State University 
Cooperative Extension Service).
    The wide fluctuations in supply and prices that result from this 
cycle, which was even more pronounced before the creation of the 
marketing order, can create liquidity problems for some producers. The 
marketing order was designed to reduce the price impacts of the 
cyclical swings in production. However, producers have been less able 
to weather these cycles in recent years because of the increase in 
production costs. While prices have been relatively steady, the cost of 
production has dramatically increased which has caused a hesitation by 
producers to plant. Producers are also enticed by the prices of 
alternative crops and their lower cost of production.
    In an effort to stabilize prices, the spearmint oil industry uses 
the volume control mechanisms authorized under the order. This 
authority allows the Committee to recommend a salable quantity and 
allotment percentage for each class of oil for the upcoming marketing 
year. The salable quantity for each class of oil is the total volume of 
oil that producers may sell during the marketing year. The allotment 
percentage for each class of spearmint oil is derived by dividing the 
salable quantity by the total allotment base.
    Each producer is then issued an annual allotment certificate, in 
pounds,

[[Page 8829]]

for the applicable class of oil, which is calculated by multiplying the 
producer's allotment base by the applicable allotment percentage. This 
is the amount of oil for the applicable class that the producer can 
sell.
    By November 1 of each year, the Committee identifies any oil that 
individual producers have produced above the volume specified on their 
annual allotment certificates. This excess oil is placed in a reserve 
pool administered by the Committee.
    There is a reserve pool for each class of oil that may not be sold 
during the current marketing year unless USDA approves a Committee 
recommendation to make a portion of the pool available. However, 
limited quantities of reserve oil are typically sold to fill 
deficiencies. A deficiency occurs when on-farm production is less than 
a producer's allotment. In that case, a producer's own reserve oil can 
be sold to fill that deficiency. Excess production (higher than the 
producer's allotment) can be sold to fill other producers' 
deficiencies. All of this needs to take place by November 1.
    In any given year, the total available supply of spearmint oil is 
composed of current production plus carry-over stocks from the previous 
crop. The Committee seeks to maintain market stability by balancing 
supply and demand, and to close the marketing year with an appropriate 
level of carryout. If the industry has production in excess of the 
salable quantity, then the reserve pool absorbs the surplus quantity of 
spearmint oil, which goes unsold during that year, unless the oil is 
needed for unanticipated sales.
    Under its provisions, the order may attempt to stabilize prices by 
(1) limiting supply and establishing reserves in high production years, 
thus minimizing the price-depressing effect that excess producer stocks 
have on unsold spearmint oil, and (2) ensuring that stocks are 
available in short supply years when prices would otherwise increase 
dramatically. The reserve pool stocks grown in large production years 
are drawn down in short crop years.
    An econometric model was used to assess the impact that volume 
control has on the prices producers receive for their commodity. 
Without volume control, spearmint oil markets would likely be over-
supplied, resulting in low producer prices and a large volume of oil 
stored and carried over to the next crop year. The model estimates how 
much lower producer prices would likely be in the absence of volume 
controls.
    The Committee estimated the trade demand for the 2008-2009 
marketing year for both classes of oil at 2,170,000 pounds, and that 
the expected combined carry-in will be 56,433 pounds. This results in a 
combined required salable quantity of 2,113,567 pounds. Therefore, with 
volume control, sales by producers for the 2008-2009 marketing year 
would be limited to 2,177,815 pounds (the recommended salable quantity 
for both classes of spearmint oil).
    The recommended salable percentages, upon which 2008-2009 producer 
allotments are based, are 50 percent for Scotch and 53 percent for 
Native. Without volume controls, producers would not be limited to 
these allotment levels, and could produce and sell additional 
spearmint. The econometric model estimated a $1.40 decline in the 
season average producer price per pound (from both classes of spearmint 
oil) resulting from the higher quantities that would be produced and 
marketed without volume control. The surplus situation for the 
spearmint oil market that would exist without volume controls in 2008-
2009 also would likely dampen prospects for improved producer prices in 
future years because of the buildup in stocks.
    The use of volume controls allows the industry to fully supply 
spearmint oil markets while avoiding the negative consequences of over-
supplying these markets. The use of volume controls is believed to have 
little or no effect on consumer prices of products containing spearmint 
oil and will not result in fewer retail sales of such products.
    The Committee discussed alternatives to the recommendations 
contained in this rule for both classes of spearmint oil. The Committee 
discussed and rejected the idea of recommending that there not be any 
volume regulation for both classes of spearmint oil because of the 
severe price-depressing effects that would occur without volume 
control.
    The Committee considered various alternative levels of volume 
control for Scotch spearmint oil, including increasing the percentage 
to a less restrictive level, or decreasing the percentage. After 
considerable discussion the Committee unanimously determined that 
993,067 pounds and 50 percent would be the most effective salable 
quantity and allotment percentage, respectively, for the 2008-2009 
marketing year.
    The Committee also considered various alternative levels of volume 
control for Native spearmint oil. After considerable discussion the 
Committee unanimously determined that 1,184,748 pounds and 53 percent 
would be the most effective salable quantity and allotment percentage, 
respectively, for the 2008-2009 marketing year.
    As noted earlier, the Committee's recommendation to establish 
salable quantities and allotment percentages for both classes of 
spearmint oil was made after careful consideration of all available 
information, including: (1) The estimated quantity of salable oil of 
each class held by producers and handlers; (2) the estimated demand for 
each class of oil; (3) the prospective production of each class of oil; 
(4) the total of allotment bases of each class of oil for the current 
marketing year and the estimated total of allotment bases of each class 
for the ensuing marketing year; (5) the quantity of reserve oil, by 
class, in storage; (6) producer prices of oil, including prices for 
each class of oil; and (7) general market conditions for each class of 
oil, including whether the estimated season average price to producers 
is likely to exceed parity. Based on its review, the Committee believes 
that the salable quantity and allotment percentage levels recommended 
would achieve the objectives sought.
    Without any regulations in effect, the Committee believes the 
industry would return to the pronounced cyclical price patterns that 
occurred prior to the order, and that prices in 2008-2009 would decline 
substantially below current levels.
    As stated earlier, the Committee believes that the order has 
contributed extensively to the stabilization of producer prices, which 
prior to 1980 experienced wide fluctuations from year-to-year. National 
Agricultural Statistics Service records show that the average price 
paid for both classes of spearmint oil ranged from $4.00 per pound to 
$11.10 per pound during the period between 1968 and 1980. Prices have 
been consistently more stable since the marketing order's inception in 
1980, with an average price for the period from 1980 to 2006 of $12.69 
per pound for Scotch spearmint oil and $9.89 per pound for Native 
spearmint oil.
    According to the Committee, the recommended salable quantities and 
allotment percentages are expected to achieve the goals of market and 
price stability.
    As previously stated, annual salable quantities and allotment 
percentages have been issued for both classes of spearmint oil since 
the order's inception. Reporting and recordkeeping requirements have 
remained the same for each year of regulation. These requirements have 
been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under OMB Control 
No. 0581-0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. Accordingly, this

[[Page 8830]]

rule would not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large spearmint oil producers and 
handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and 
forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and 
duplication by industry and public sector agencies.
    The AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to 
promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to 
provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government 
information and services, and for other purposes.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    In addition, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized 
throughout the spearmint oil industry and all interested persons were 
invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the October 
17, 2007, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested 
persons are invited to submit information on the regulatory and 
informational impacts of this action on small businesses.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http:/
/www.ams.usda.gov/fv/moab.html. Any questions about the compliance 
guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.
    A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons the 
opportunity to respond to this proposal. This comment period is deemed 
appropriate so a final determination might be made prior to June 1, 
2008, the beginning of the 2008-2009 marketing year. All written 
comments timely received will be considered before a final 
determination is made on this matter.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 985

    Marketing agreements, Oils and fats, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Spearmint oil.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 985 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 985--MARKETING ORDER REGULATING THE HANDLING OF SPEARMINT OIL 
PRODUCED IN THE FAR WEST

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 985 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601-674.

    2. A new Sec.  985.227 is added to read as follows:

    [Note: This section will not appear in the Code of Federal 
Regulations.]

Sec.  985.227  Salable quantities and allotment percentages--2008-2009 
marketing year.

    The salable quantity and allotment percentage for each class of 
spearmint oil during the marketing year beginning on June 1, 2008, 
shall be as follows:
    (a) Class 1 (Scotch) oil--a salable quantity of 993,067 pounds and 
an allotment percentage of 50 percent.
    (b) Class 3 (Native) oil--a salable quantity of 1,184,748 pounds 
and an allotment percentage of 53 percent.

    Dated: February 12, 2008.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. E8-2922 Filed 2-14-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P