Agricultural Marketing Service March 2007 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents
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Avocados Grown in South Florida; Recommended Decision on Proposed Amendments of Marketing Order No. 915
This is a recommended decision regarding proposed amendments to Marketing Order No. 915 (order), which regulates the handling of avocados grown in Florida. The amendments were proposed by the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee (Committee), which is responsible for local administration of the order. The amendments included in this recommended decision would: add authority for the Committee to borrow funds; revise voting requirements for changing the assessment rate; allow for District 1 nominations to be conducted by mail; and add authority for the Committee to accept voluntary contributions. The proposed amendments are intended to improve the operation and functioning of the marketing order program. This recommended decision invites written exceptions on the proposed amendments. This rule also announces AMS's intention to request approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of a new information collection.
Changes in Hourly Fee Rates for Science and Technology Laboratory Services-Fiscal Years 2007-2009
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is changing the hourly fee rates for Science and Technology (S&T) Laboratory Services. The agency is raising 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 regulation, AMS is providing for three annual standard hourly fee rate increases for fiscal years 2007-2009. This will provide the agricultural commodity industries and other stakeholders with more timely and relevant information regarding user fees for voluntary laboratory testing services. The agency is also removing tables and schedules with listings of individual tests and services. Three annual hourly fee rate adjustments are established by this action for appeals, holiday, and overtime services to reflect the anticipated increase 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 Part 92 is obsolete and therefore has been removed.
Almonds Grown in California; Outgoing Quality Control Requirements
This rule adds outgoing quality control requirements under the administrative rules and regulations of the California almond marketing order (order). The order regulates the handling of almonds grown in California and is administered locally by the Almond Board of California (Board). This rule provides for a mandatory program under the order to reduce the potential for Salmonella bacteria in almonds. This action will help ensure that quality almonds are available for human consumption.
United States Standards for Grades of Sweet Cherries
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has reviewed the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grade standards for usefulness in serving the industry. As a result, AMS is proposing to revise the sweet cherry standard to include standardized row sizes into the standard. These standardized row sizes would establish a uniform basis for defining size in the industry.
Irish Potatoes Grown in Colorado; Modification of the Handling Regulation for Area No. 2
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule modifying the grade and maturity requirements for potatoes handled under the Colorado potato marketing order, Area No. 2. The marketing order regulates the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Colorado and is administered locally by the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Area No. 2 (Committee). This rule continues in effect the action that relaxed the minimum grade requirement from U.S. No. 1 grade to U.S. Commercial grade for all Area No. 2 potato varieties, other than round, red-skinned varieties, measuring from 1\1/2\-inch minimum diameter to 2\1/4\-inch maximum diameter (size B), and 1-inch minimum diameter to 1\3/4\-inch maximum diameter. This rule also continues in effect the action that changed the date minimum maturity requirements are implemented from August 25 to August 1 of each year. These changes are intended to facilitate the handling and marketing of Colorado Area No. 2 potatoes.
Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Salable Quantities and Allotment Percentages for the 2007-2008 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 2007-2008 marketing year, which begins on June 1, 2007. This rule establishes salable quantities and allotment percentages for Class 1 (Scotch) spearmint oil of 886,667 pounds and 45 percent, respectively, and for Class 3 (Native) spearmint oil of 1,062,336 pounds and 48 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.
Notice of Request for an Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), this notice announces the intention of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to request an extension of a currently approved information collection in support of customer- focused improvement initiatives for USDA-procured poultry, livestock, fruit, and vegetable products.
Cranberries Grown in the States of Massachusetts, et al.; Increased Assessment Rate
This rule increases the assessment rate established for the Cranberry Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 2006-2007 fiscal year and subsequent fiscal years from $0.18 to $0.28 per barrel. Authorization to assess cranberry handlers enables the Committee to incur expenses that are reasonable and necessary to administer the program. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of cranberries grown in the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Long Island in the State of New York. The fiscal year began September 1, 2006, and ends August 31, 2007. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
Late Payment and Interest Charges on Past Due Assessments Under the Nectarine and Peach Marketing Orders
This rule invites comments concerning the collection of assessments owed under the nectarine and peach marketing orders. The marketing orders regulate the handling of nectarines and peaches grown in California and are administered locally by the Nectarine Administrative Committee and the Peach Commodity Committee (committees). This rule would implement authorities contained in the marketing order to allow the committees to apply late payment and interest charges on past due assessments owed the committees by handlers.
United States Standards for Grades of Florida Avocados
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 Florida Avocados. At a meeting with the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, AMS was asked to review the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grade standards for usefulness in serving the industry. As a result AMS is considering revisions to the Florida Avocado standard to include all avocados.
Walnuts Grown in California; Recommended Decision and Opportunity To File Written Exceptions to Proposed Amendments of Marketing Agreement and Order No. 984
This recommended decision invites written exceptions on proposed amendments to Marketing Order No. 984, which regulates the handling of walnuts grown in California (Order). The amendments were proposed by the Walnut Marketing Board (Board), which is responsible for local administration of the order. The amendments included in this recommended decision 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 voluntary financial 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 Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed 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.
Tart Cherries Grown in the States of Michigan, et al.; Final Free and Restricted Percentages for the 2006-2007 Crop Year for Tart Cherries
This rule establishes final free and restricted percentages for the 2006-2007 crop year. The percentages are 55 percent free and 45 percent restricted and will establish the proportion of cherries from the 2006 crop which may be handled in commercial outlets. The percentages are intended to stabilize supplies and prices, and strengthen market conditions. The percentages were recommended by the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (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.
Nectarines and Peaches Grown in California; Revision of Regulations on Production Districts, Committee Representation, and Nomination Procedures
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule revising the administrative rules and regulations that define production districts, allocate committee membership, and specify nomination procedures for the Nectarine Administrative Committee (NAC) and the Peach Commodity Committee (PCC) (committees). The committees are responsible for local administration of the Federal marketing orders (orders) for fresh nectarines and peaches grown in California, respectively. This rule also continues in effect the revision to the committees' mailing address. These revisions are necessary to bring the orders' administrative rules and regulations into conformance with the recently amended order provisions.
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 hearing which began on February 26, 2007, in Strongsville, Ohio, to consider proposals to amend the Class III and Class IV product price formulas applicable to all Federal milk marketing orders.
Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Order; Reallocation of Mushroom Council Membership
This rule amends, on an interim basis, provisions of the Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Order (Order) to reapportion membership of the Mushroom Council (Council) to reflect shifts in United States mushroom production. Specifically, the amendments reapportion the Order's four United States geographic regions, and reallocate Council member representation in two of the four United States geographic regions (Regions 1 and 4). The Council, which administers the Order, proposed the amendments in conformance with Order requirements to reviewat least every 5 years and not more than every three years the geographic distribution of United States mushroom production volume and import volume, and recommend changes accordingly. The amendments will be effective for the 2008 Council appointments.
Nectarines and Peaches Grown in California; Temporary Suspension of Provisions Regarding Continuance Referenda Under the Nectarine and Peach Marketing Orders
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule temporarily suspending order provisions that require continuance referenda to be conducted for the nectarine and peach marketing orders during winter 2006-07. This rule enables USDA to postpone conducting the continuance referenda until the industry has had sufficient time to evaluate the effects of recent amendments to the marketing orders. Temporary suspension of the continuance referenda should also minimize confusion during the current committee nomination period, which overlaps with the scheduled referenda period.
Increase in Fees and Charges for Egg, Poultry, and Rabbit Grading
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is increasing the fees and charges for Federal voluntary egg, poultry, and rabbit grading, certification, and audit services, and establishing a separate billing rate for the audit services. The fees and charges are being increased to cover the increase in salaries of Federal employees, salary increases of State employees cooperatively utilized in administering the programs, and other increased Agency costs. The AMS is required to collect fees from users of these services to cover the costs of services rendered.
Notice of Meeting of the National Organic Standards Board
In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is announcing a forthcoming meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
Plant Variety Protection Board; Open Meeting
This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of a forthcoming meeting of the Plant Variety Protection Board.
Processed Fruits and Vegetables
This rule revises the regulations governing inspection and certification for processed fruits, vegetables, and processed products by increasing the fees charged for these products by 19 to 26 percent. Furthermore, it revises the regulations so applicants entering into an in-plant inspection contract with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will incur the costs for the plant survey and sanitation inspection. Finally, the revision provides that applicants entering into a year-round inspection contract, less than year-round (four or more consecutive 40 hour weeks) contract, or lot inspection will incur costs for Sunday differential when an employee works on Sunday. Also affected are the fees charged to persons required to have inspections on imported commodities in accordance with the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. In addition, various editorial changes are being made to enhance clarity. These revisions are necessary in order to recover, as nearly as practicable, the costs of performing inspection services under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 and to ensure the program's financial stability.
Olives Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rate
This rule proposes an increase in the assessment rate established for the California Olive Committee (committee) for the 2007 and subsequent fiscal years from $11.03 to $47.84 per assessable ton of olives handled. The committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of olives grown in California. Assessments upon olive handlers are used by the committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal year began January 1 and ends December 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
National Organic Program, Sunset Review
This proposed 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 17, 2005 through October 19, 2006. The recommendations addressed in this proposed rule pertain to the continued exemption (use) and prohibition of 169 substances in organic production and handling. Consistent with the recommendations from the NOSB, this proposed rule would renew 166 of the 169 exemptions and prohibitions on the National List (along with any restrictive annotations), and remove 3 exemptions from the National List.
Cotton Research and Promotion Program: Determination of Whether To Conduct a Referendum Regarding 1990 Amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Act
This notice announces the Department's view, based on a review by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), that it is not necessary to conduct a referendum among producers and importers on continuation of the 1990 amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Act (Act). The 1990 amendments require the Secretary of Agriculture, once every 5 years, to conduct a review to determine whether to hold a referendum. The two major changes to the Cotton Research and Promotion Program made by the 1990 amendments were the elimination of assessment refunds to producers and a new assessment levied on imported cotton and the cotton content of imported products. Although USDA is of the view that a referendum is not needed, it will initiate a sign-up period as required by the Act, to allow cotton producers and importers to request a referendum.
Walnuts Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rate
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule which increased the assessment rate established for the Walnut Marketing Board (Board) for the 2006-07 and subsequent marketing years from $0.0096 to $0.0101 per kernelweight pound of assessable walnuts. The Board locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of walnuts grown in California. Assessments upon walnut handlers are used by the Board to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The marketing year begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.