Changes in Fees for Voluntary Federal Meat Grading and Certification Services
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is revising the hourly fees charged for voluntary Federal meat grading and certification services performed by the Meat Grading and Certification (MGC) Branch. The hourly fees will be adjusted by this action to reflect the increased cost of providing service and to ensure that the MGC Branch operates on a financially self-supporting basis.
Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) Inviting Applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announces the availability of approximately $7 million in block grant funds to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. State departments of agriculture interested in obtaining grant program funds are invited to submit applications to USDA. State departments of agriculture, meaning agencies, commissions, or departments of a State government responsible for agriculture within the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, are eligible to apply. State departments of agriculture are encouraged to involve industry groups, academia, and community-based organizations in the development of applications and the administration of projects.
United States Standards for Grades of Table Grapes (European or Vinifera Type)
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), is proposing a revision to the voluntary United States Standards for Grades of Table Grapes (European or Vinifera Type). Two industry associations requested the standards be modified by adding a 10 percent allowance for shattered grapes in consumer containers for shipment that are en route or at destination. The standards provide industry with a common language and a uniform basis for trading, thus promoting the orderly and efficient marketing of European or Vinifera Type table grapes.
Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate
This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for the Prune Marketing Committee (committee) under Marketing Order No. 993 for the 2006-07 and subsequent crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes. The committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of dried prunes grown in California. Assessments upon dried prune handlers are used by the committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The crop year began August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
Sweet Cherries Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Decreased Assessment Rate
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule which decreased the assessment rate established for the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 2006-2007 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.75 to $0.50 per ton for Washington sweet cherries handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order regulating the handling of sweet cherries grown in designated counties in Washington. Assessments upon sweet cherry handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal period begins April 1 and ends March 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended or terminated.
Changes in Hourly Fee Rates for Science and Technology Laboratory Services-Fiscal Years 2007-2009
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing to change the hourly fee rates for Science and Technology (S&T) Laboratory Services. The agency is proposing to raise these rates to reflect, among other factors, national and locality pay increases for Federal employees and inflation, operating costs, instrumentation and training, and program and agency administrative overhead costs. In the past, AMS has amended its regulations on an as needed basis in order to recover laboratory program costs. With this proposed regulation, AMS is providing for three annual standard hourly fee rate increases for fiscal years 2007-2009. This would provide the agricultural commodity industries and other stakeholders with more timely and relevant information regarding voluntary user fees for laboratory testing services. The agency is also proposing to remove tables and schedules with listings of individual tests and services. Three annual hourly fee rate adjustments are proposed for appeals, holiday, and overtime services to reflect the anticipated increase in cost of providing these laboratory services each fiscal year. The regulations also are updated to identify current facility addresses. Part 92 is obsolete and therefore has been removed.
Potatoes; Grade Standards
This proposed rule would revise the United States Standards for Grades of Potatoes. These standards are issued under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. The use of these grading standards is voluntary unless potatoes are under a marketing order that provides for certain requirements set forth in the grade standards or the potatoes are subject to import requirements under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. The changes being proposed are the results of the detailed work performed by the Joint U.S./Canadian Potato Council that was charged with harmonizing the U.S. and Canadian Potato Grade Standards. The purpose for this revision is to update and revise the standards to more accurately represent today's marketing practices.
Nectarines and Peaches Grown in California; Revision of Handling Requirements for Fresh Nectarines and Peaches
The Department of Agriculture is adopting, as a final rule, with a change, an interim final rule revising 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 continues in effect the authorization for continued shipments of ``CA Utility'' quality nectarines and peaches, the establishment of weight-count standards for Peento type nectarines in volume-filled containers, and the elimination of 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 enables 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.
United States Standards for Grades of Pineapples
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), prior to undertaking research and other work associated with revising official grade standards, is soliciting comments on the possible revisions of the United States Standards for Grades of Pineapples. AMS has been reviewing the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grade standards for usefulness in serving the industry. As a result, AMS has identified the United States Standards for Grades of Pineapples for possible revision. AMS is proposing to revise the tolerances by replacing Table I Shipping Point and Table II En Route or at Destination with numerical tolerances. These tables utilize acceptance numbers of fruit with maximum numbers of defective permitted. These changes would simplify the inspection process and bring the pineapple standard in line with other standards which use numerical tolerances for defects. AMS is seeking comments regarding these proposed changes that may be necessary to better serve the industry.
Milk in the Central Marketing Area; Final Decision on Proposed Amendments to Marketing Agreement and to Order
This document is the final decision proposing to adopt amendments that increase supply plant performance standards, amend features of the ``touch-base'' provision, amend certain features of the ``split plant'' provision and decrease the diversion limit standards of the order. This decision also limits the volume of milk a handler can pool to 125 percent of the total volume of milk pooled in the previous month. This final decision is subject to producer approval.
Milk in the Appalachian and Southeast Marketing Areas; Tentative Partial Decision and Opportunity to File Written Exceptions on Proposed Amendments to Tentative Marketing Agreements and to Orders
This document is the tentative partial decision proposing to adopt on an interim final and emergency basis amendments to the transportation credit balancing fund provisions of the Appalachian and Southeast milk marketing orders. Specifically, this document would establish a variable mileage rate factor using a fuel cost adjustor to determine the transportation credit payments of both orders, increase the maximum transportation credit assessment rate for both orders and establish a zero diversion limit standard on all milk receiving transportation credits in both orders. Other proposals concerning producer milk provisions and establishing transportation credit provisions on intra-market order movements of milk within the Appalachian and Southeast marketing areas will be addressed in a separate decision to be issued soon. This decision requires determining if producers approve the issuance of the amended orders on an interim basis.
Milk in the Upper Midwest Marketing Area; Decision on Proposed Amendments to Marketing Agreement and to Order
This document is the final decision proposing to adopt amendments to the Upper Midwest order intended to deter the de-pooling of milk and increase the order's maximum administrative assessment rate. This final decision is subject to producer approval by referendum.
Milk in the Mideast Marketing Area; Decision on Proposed Amendments to Marketing Agreement and to Order
This document is the final decision proposing to adopt amendments to the Mideast order intended to deter the de-pooling of milk. This final decision is subject to producer approval by referendum.
National Organic Program (NOP); Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Crops and Processing)
This final rule would amend the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) regulations to reflect recommendations submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from November 15, 2000, through March 3, 2005. Consistent with the recommendations from the NOSB, this final rule adds thirteen substances, along with any restrictive annotations, to the National List. This final rule also amends the mailing address for where to file a Certification or Accreditation appeal.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
This rule provides regulations to implement the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. This action establishes the eligibility and application requirements, the review and approval process, and grant administration procedures for the SCBGP. The SCBGP is authorized under Section 101 of the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note).
Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Revision of the Salable Quantity and Allotment Percentage for Class 3 (Native) Spearmint Oil for the 2006-2007 Marketing Year
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule revising the quantity of Class 3 (Native) spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2006-2007 marketing year. This rule continues in effect the action that increased the Native spearmint oil salable quantity from 1,007,886 pounds to 1,161,260 pounds, and the allotment percentage from 46 percent to 53 percent. The marketing order regulates the handling of spearmint oil produced in the Far West and is administered locally by the Spearmint Oil Administrative Committee (Committee). The Committee recommended this rule for the purpose of avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices to help maintain stability in the Far West spearmint oil market.
Milk in the Northeast and Other Marketing Areas; Reconvening of Hearing on Proposed Amendments to Tentative Marketing Agreements and Orders
This notice announces the reconvening of the public hearing that began on January 24, 2006, in Alexandria, Virginia, to consider proposals seeking to amend the Class III and Class IV milk price formula manufacturing allowances applicable to all Federal milk marketing orders.
Amendment to the Hass Avocado Promotion, Research, and Information Order: Adjust Representation on the Hass Avocado Board
This rule adjusts the number of members on the Hass Avocado Board (Board) to reflect changes in the production of domestic Hass avocados in the United States and the volume of imported Hass avocados into the U.S. over the 2003, 2004, and 2005 calendar years, which are three years after assessments commenced. These adjustments are required by the Hass Avocado Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Order). The results of the adjustment is one additional importer member and alternate and one less domestic producer member and alternate of Hass avocados that are subject to assessments. As a result of these changes, the Board membership will be composed of seven domestic producer members and alternates and five importer members and alternates. Currently, the Board is composed of eight domestic producer members and alternates, and four importer members and alternates. These changes to the Board are effective for the Secretary of Agriculture's 2006 appointments.
Nectarines and Peaches Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rates
This rule increases the assessment rates established for the Nectarine Administrative Committee and the Peach Commodity Committee (committees) for the 2006-07 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.20 to $0.21 per 25-pound container or container equivalent of nectarines and peaches handled. The committees locally administer the marketing orders that regulate the handling of nectarines and peaches grown in California. Assessments upon nectarine and peach handlers are used by the committees to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the programs. The fiscal period runs from March 1 through the last day of February. The assessment rates will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
Pistachios Grown in California; Modification of Small Handler Exemption
This rule modifies the current handling requirements prescribed under the California pistachio marketing order (order). The order regulates the handling of pistachios grown in California and is administered locally by the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (committee). The modification increases the exemption threshold for pistachio handlers who handle small amounts of pistachios, primarily for home or personal use. Currently, handlers of 1,000 pounds or less of hulled and dried pistachios (assessed weight) are exempt from most handling requirements. Under this modification, the exemption is extended to handlers of less than 5,000 pounds of assessed weight pistachios. This change is not expected to have a significant impact on the overall quality of California pistachios found in the marketplace.