Notice of Change in Interest Rate Awarded in Reparation Proceedings Under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed the method used to calculate the interest to be awarded in reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). Additional Information: Contact Dexter Thomas, Senior Marketing Specialist, PACA Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 2095South Building , Mail Stop 0242, Washington, DC 20250-0242. Eemail@example.com. This notice will also be posted on the Internet at http://www.ams.usda.gov/fv/ paca.htm.
National Organic Program-Revisions to Livestock Standards Based on Court Order (Harvey v. Johanns) and 2005 Amendment to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA)
This proposed rule amends the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to comply with the final judgment in the case of Harvey v. Johanns (Harvey) issued on June 9, 2005, by the U.S. District Court, District of Maine, and to address the November 10, 2005, amendment made to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq., the OFPA), concerning the transition of dairy livestock into organic production. Further, this proposed rule amends the NOP regulations to clarify that only nonorganically produced agricultural products listed in the NOP regulations may be used as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as ``organic'' or ``made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).'' In accordance with the final judgment in Harvey, the revision emphasizes that only the nonorganically produced agricultural ingredients listed in the NOP regulations can be used in accordance with any specified restrictions and when the product is not commercially available in organic form. To comply with the court order in Harvey, USDA is required to publish final revisions to the NOP regulations within 360 days of the court order, or by June 4, 2006. Accordingly, this proposed rule amends the NOP regulations to eliminate the use of up to 20 percent nonorganically produced feed during the first 9 months of the conversion of a whole dairy herd from conventional to organic production. This proposed rule also addresses the amendment made to the OFPA concerning the transition of dairy livestock into organic production by allowing crops and forage from land included in the organic system plan of a dairy farm that is in the third year of organic management to be consumed by the dairy animals of the farm during the 12-month period immediately prior to the sale of organic milk and milk products.
Nominations for Members of the National Organic Standards Board
The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, as amended, requires the establishment of a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB is a 15-member board that is responsible for developing and recommending to the Secretary a proposed National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances. The NOSB also advises the Secretary on other aspects of the National Organic Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is requesting nominations to fill four (4) upcoming vacancies on the NOSB. The positions to be filled are: Organic handler (1 position), scientist (1 position), consumer public interest (1 position), and an environmentalist (1 position). The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a person to each position to serve a 5-year term of office that will commence on January 24, 2007, and run until January 24, 2012. USDA encourages eligible minorities, women, and persons with disabilities to apply for membership on the NOSB.
Walnuts Grown in California; Hearing on Proposed Amendment of Marketing Agreement and Order No. 984
Notice is hereby given of a public hearing to receive evidence on proposed amendments to Marketing Order No. 984, which regulates the handling of walnuts grown in California. The amendments are proposed by the Walnut Marketing Board (Board), which is responsible for local administration of order 984. The amendments would: Change the marketing year; include ``pack'' as a handler function; restructure the Board and revise nomination procedures; rename the Board and add authority to change Board composition; modify Board meeting and voting procedures; add authority for marketing promotion and paid advertising; add authority to accept contributions, and to carry over excess assessment funds; broaden the scope of the quality control provisions and add the authority to recommend different regulations for different market destinations; add authority for the Board to appoint more than one inspection service; replace outdated order language with current industry terminology; and other related amendments. The USDA proposes three additional amendments: To establish tenure limitations for Board members, to require that continuance referenda be conducted on a periodic basis to ascertain producer support for the order, and to make any changes to the order as may be necessary to conform with any amendment that may result from the hearing. The proposed amendments are intended to improve the operation and functioning of the marketing order program.
Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee
The purpose of this notice is to notify all interested parties that the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will hold a Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee (Committee) meeting that is open to the public. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the Committee to examine the full spectrum of issues faced by the fruit and vegetable industry and to provide suggestions and ideas to the Secretary of Agriculture on how USDA can tailor its programs to meet the fruit and vegetable industry's needs. This notice sets forth the schedule and location for the meeting.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program; Notice of Request for Approval of a New Information Collection
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing regulations to administer the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. This proposed rule is intended to establish eligibility and application requirements, the review and approval process, and grant administration procedures for the SCBGP. The SCBGP would be implemented under section 101 of the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note). This rule also announces the Agricultural Marketing Service's intention to request approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the new information collection requirements necessary to implement the SCBGP.
Increase in Fees for Federal Dairy Grading and Inspection Services
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing to increase, by approximately 10 percent, the hourly fees charged for Federal dairy grading and inspection services. Dairy grading and inspection services are voluntary and are financed through user-fees assessed to participants in the program. These revisions are necessary in order to recover, as nearly as practicable, the increase in salaries of Federal employees, the increase in Agency costs, and to ensure that the Dairy Grading Branch operates on a financially self-supporting basis.
User Fees for 2006 Crop Cotton Classification Services To Growers
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing to maintain user fees for cotton producers for 2006 crop cotton classification services under the Cotton Statistics and Estimates Act at the same level as in 2005. This is in accordance with the formula provided in the Uniform Cotton Classing Fees Act of 1987. The 2005 user fee for this classification service was $1.85 per bale. This proposal would maintain the fee for the 2006 crop at $1.85 per bale. The proposed fee and the existing reserve are sufficient to cover the costs of providing classification services, including costs for administration and supervision.
Milk in the Mideast Marketing Area; Order Amending the Order
This document adopts as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule concerning pooling standards of the Mideast Federal milk order. More than the required number of producers for the Mideast marketing area approved the issuance of the final order amendments.
Eligibility Requirements for USDA Graded Shell Eggs
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) amends the voluntary shell egg grading rules by providing that shell eggs must not have been previously shipped for retail sale in order to be officially identified with a USDA consumer grademark; by changing the definition of the term eggs of current production from 30 days to 21 days, thereby making eggs that were laid more than 21 days before the date of packing ineligible to be officially identified with a USDA-consumer grademark; and by adding a definition for the term shipped for retail sale. On April 27, 1998, USDA prohibited the repackaging of eggs packed under USDA's voluntary grading program until the Department could review its policies regarding the repackaging and dating of eggs. Making certain types of eggs ineligible for grading will strengthen the integrity of the USDA grade shield.
National Organic Program (NOP)-Access to Pasture (Livestock)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) invites comments from producers, handlers, processors, food manufacturers, exporters, consumers, scientists, industry representatives, and all other interested parties on how USDA should address the relationship between ruminant animals, particularly dairy animals, and pasture or land used for grazing under the NOP regulations. During the development of the NOP, and since its implementation, various parties, including the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), have expressed concern about the role of pasture in organic management of ruminant animals particularly dairy animals. The NOP is authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) (OFPA). The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the NOP. Under the NOP, AMS oversees national standards for the production and handling of organically produced agricultural products. This action is being taken by AMS to ensure that NOP regulations are clear and consistent, stimulate growth of the organic sector, satisfy consumer expectations, and allow organic producers and handlers flexibility in making site-specific, real-time management decisions.
Peanut Standards Board
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a Peanut Standards Board (Board) for the purpose of advising the Secretary on quality and handling standards for domestically produced and imported peanuts. The initial Board was appointed by the Secretary and announced on December 5, 2002. USDA seeks nominations for individuals to be considered for selection as Board members for terms of office ending June 30, 2009. Selected nominees sought by this action would replace those six producer and industry representatives who are currently serving for the initial term of office that ends June 30, 2006. The Board consists of 18 members representing producers and industry representatives.
Hazelnuts Grown in Oregon and Washington; Establishment of Final Free and Restricted Percentages for the 2005-2006 Marketing Year
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule establishing final free and restricted percentages for domestic inshell hazelnuts for the 2005-2006 marketing year under the Federal marketing order for hazelnuts grown in Oregon and Washington. This rule continues in effect the final free and restricted percentages of 11.4388 and 88.5612 percent, respectively. The percentages allocate the quantity of domestically produced hazelnuts which may be marketed in the domestic inshell market (free) and the quantity of domestically produced hazelnuts that must be disposed of in other approved outlets (restricted). Volume regulation is intended to stabilize the supply of domestic inshell hazelnuts to meet the limited domestic demand for such hazelnuts with the goal of providing producers with reasonable returns. This rule was recommended unanimously by the Hazelnut Marketing Board (Board), which is the agency responsible for local administration of the marketing order.
Nectarines and Peaches Grown in California; Revision of Handling Requirements for Fresh Nectarines and Peaches
This rule revises the handling requirements for California nectarines and peaches by modifying the grade, size, maturity, and pack requirements for fresh shipments of these fruits, beginning with 2006 season shipments. This rule also authorizes continued shipments of ``CA Utility'' quality nectarines and peaches, establishes weight-count standards for Peento type nectarines in volume-filled containers, and eliminates the varietal container marking requirements. The marketing orders regulate the handling of nectarines and peaches grown in California and are administered locally by the Nectarine Administrative and Peach Commodity Committees (committees). This rule will enable handlers to continue to ship fresh nectarines and peaches in a manner that meets consumer needs, increases returns to producers and handlers, and reflects current industry practices.
Sweet Cherries Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Removal of Container Regulations
This rule removes the container regulations prescribed under the Washington sweet cherry marketing order. Specifically, this rule removes the requirement that dark-colored sweet cherries must be handled in containers having a certain net weight. The marketing order regulates the handling of fresh sweet cherries grown in designated counties in the State of Washington, and is administered locally by the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee (Committee). By eliminating the container requirements, this relaxation will provide handlers with the ability to meet the rapidly changing wholesale, retail, and consumer demand for innovative product packaging. This is expected to enhance industry marketing flexibility and efficiency.
Apricots Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Temporary Suspension of Container Regulations
This rule suspends the container regulations prescribed under the Washington apricot marketing order for the 2006 shipping season only. The marketing order regulates the handling of fresh apricots grown in designated counties in the State of Washington, and is administered locally by the Washington Apricot Marketing Committee (Committee). This relaxation of the regulations provides the apricot industry with increased marketing flexibility by allowing handlers to pack and ship apricots in any size, shape, or type of container. The Committee recommended a temporary suspension of the container regulations so that it can thoroughly evaluate the impact the relaxation has on the apricot industry prior to taking any action for subsequent seasons.
Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Salable Quantities and Allotment Percentages for the 2006-2007 Marketing Year
This rule establishes the quantity of spearmint oil produced in the Far West, by class, that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2006-2007 marketing year, which begins on June 1, 2006. This rule establishes salable quantities and allotment percentages for Class 1 (Scotch) spearmint oil of 878,205 pounds and 45 percent, respectively, and for Class 3 (Native) spearmint oil of 1,007,886 pounds and 46 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.
Tart Cherries Grown in the States of Michigan, et al.; Change in Certain Provisions/Procedures Under the Handling Regulations for Tart Cherries
This rule removes volume limitations on new product development, new market development and market expansion activities to facilitate such activities; allows handlers to receive diversion credit for the voluntary destruction of finished, marketable products that have deteriorated in condition to provide handlers more flexibility; adds a procedure to keep Cherry Industry Administrative Board (Board) representation in line with current district production levels; and revises grower application and mapping procedures under the grower diversion program to make the process less burdensome. These changes are intended to improve the operation of the marketing order and to increase the demand for tart cherries and tart cherry products. The changes were unanimously recommended by the Board, the body that locally administers the marketing order. The marketing order regulates the handling of tart cherries grown in the States of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, and Tangelos Grown in Florida; Modifying Procedures and Establishing Regulations To Limit Shipments of Small Sizes of Red Seedless Grapefruit
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, with changes, an interim final rule limiting the volume of sizes 48 and 56 red seedless grapefruit entering the fresh market and changing the procedures used for this purpose under the marketing order for oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos grown in Florida (order). The order is administered locally by the Citrus Administrative Committee (Committee). This rule continues in effect the action modifying the way a handler's average week is determined if crop conditions limit shipments from any of the three prior seasons. However, this final rule amends the interim final rule by removing the weekly percentages established for the first 22 weeks of the 2005-2006 season which began September 19, 2005, while maintaining the reporting requirement for small-sized red seedless grapefruit. The Committee voted to remove the weekly percentages following the crop losses from Hurricane Wilma. This action should provide more red seedless grapefruit for shipment to the fresh fruit market.