Tart Cherries Grown in the State of Michigan, et al.; Increasing the Primary Reserve Capacity and Revising Exemption Requirements
This rule invites comments on proposed revisions to the primary inventory reserve capacity and the exemption provisions applicable to handler diversion activities prescribed under the marketing order for tart cherries (order). The order regulates the handling of tart cherries grown in the States of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, and is administered locally by the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (Board). This action would increase the volume of tart cherries that can be placed in the primary inventory reserve from 50 million pounds to 100 million pounds and would revise exemption provisions by limiting diversion credits for new market development and market expansion activities to one year. These changes are intended to facilitate sales and lessen the impact of market expansion activities on volume restriction calculations.
Milk in the Northeast and Other Marketing Areas; Determination of Equivalent Price Series
It has been determined by the Deputy Administrator of Dairy Programs that the dairy products price series in the Dairy Products Sales report released by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is equivalent to the price series previously released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in the Dairy Products Prices report. The dairy product price series is used in the price discovery mechanism for raw milk component values, and the component values are then used in determining Federal milk market order (FMMO) minimum classified milk prices. AMS previously used the NASS prices in the determination of raw milk component values; however, the responsibility for the collection of dairy product sales data was transferred from NASS to AMS effective April, 1, 2012 (77 FR 8717), at which time NASS discontinued the publication of its Dairy Products Prices report. The data collected by AMS through this new system will be used for future component value computations and the subsequent calculation of FMMO minimum classified milk prices. The establishment of an equivalent dairy products price series is essential to the continuing operation of the FMMO program.
Mango Promotion, Research, and Information Order; Assessment Increase
This rule amends the Mango Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Order) to increase the assessment rate on first handlers and importers of mangos from one-half cent per pound to three- quarters of a cent per pound. The increase is permitted under the Order, which is authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (Act). The National Mango Board (Board), which administers the Order, recommended this action to ensure that the Board's research and promotion programs continue to be adequately funded.
Pistachios Grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico; Decreased Assessment Rate
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that decreased the assessment rate established for the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (Committee) for the 2011-12 and subsequent production years from $0.0007 to $0.0005 per pound of assessed weight pistachios. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of pistachios grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The interim rule was necessary to allow the Committee to provide sufficient revenue to meet its expenses while maintaining a financial reserve within the limit authorized under the order.
Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that decreased the assessment rate established for the Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 2011-12 and subsequent crop years from $0.27 to $0.22 per ton of salable dried prunes handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order for dried prunes produced in California. The interim rule was necessary to allow the Committee to lower its assessment rate because of a substantial decrease in wage and salary expenses. The current excess funds carried forward along with the estimated interest income, combined with the funds generated from the decreased assessment rate and decreased crop is expected to provide adequate income to cover anticipated 2011-12 expenses.
User Fees for 2012 Crop Cotton Classification Services to Growers
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing to maintain user fees for cotton producers for 2012 crop cotton classification services under the Cotton Statistics and Estimates Act at the same level as in 2011. These fees are also authorized under the Cotton Standards Act of 1923. The 2011 crop user fee was $2.20 per bale, and AMS proposes to continue the fee for the 2012 cotton crop at that same level. This proposed fee and the existing reserve are sufficient to cover the costs of providing classification services for the 2012 crop, including costs for administration and supervision.
Pears Grown in Oregon and Washington; Assessment Rate Decrease for Fresh Pears
The Department of Agriculture is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that decreased the assessment rate established for the Fresh Pear Committee (Committee) for the 2011-2012 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.501 to $0.471 per standard box or equivalent of fresh winter pears handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of fresh pears grown in Oregon and Washington. The Committee recommended the assessment rate decrease because the fresh winter pear promotion budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal period was reduced.
Pears Grown in Oregon and Washington; Assessment Rate Decrease for Processed Pears
The Department of Agriculture is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that decreased the assessment rate established for the Processed Pear Committee (Committee) for the 2011- 2012 and subsequent fiscal periods from $8.41 to $7.73 per ton of summer/fall processed pears handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of processed pears grown in Oregon and Washington. The Committee recommended the assessment rate decrease because the summer/fall processed pear promotion budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal period was reduced.
Tomatoes Grown in Florida; Increased Assessment Rate
This rule would increase the assessment rate established for the Florida Tomato Committee (Committee) for the 2011-12 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.0275 to $0.037 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida. Assessments upon tomato handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal period begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Revision of the Salable Quantity and Allotment Percentage for Class 1 (Scotch) Spearmint Oil for the 2011-2012 Marketing Year
This rule revises the quantity of Class 1 (Scotch) spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle on behalf of, producers during the 2011-2012 marketing year. This rule increases the Scotch spearmint oil salable quantity from 733,913 pounds to 876,596 pounds, and the allotment percentage from 36 percent to 43 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 unanimously recommended this rule for the purpose of avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices and to help maintain stability in the Far West spearmint oil market.
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). Written public comments are invited in advance of the meeting, and the meeting will include scheduled time for oral comments from the public.
Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) Inviting Applications for the 2012 Farmers' Market Promotion Program (FMPP)
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announces the availability of approximately $10 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year (FY) 2012 to increase domestic consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Examples of direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities include new farmers markets, roadside stands, community- supported agriculture (CSA) programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer infrastructures. AMS hereby requests proposals from eligible entities within the following categories: Agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and Tribal governments. Based on the available funding, AMS will award the most competitive applications that demonstrate measurable, outcome- based strategies that help increase farmers' or agricultural producers' revenue through direct producer to consumer marketing opportunities. The minimum award per grant is $5,000 and the maximum award per grant is $100,000. No matching funds are required.
United States Standards for Grades of Cultivated Ginseng
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), is revising the voluntary United States Standards for Grades of Cultivated Ginseng. AMS received a request from the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin (GBW), to amend the standards to reflect current market values. To ensure the integrity of the standards, the revisions will be based on quality and percentage defects. The new grades will replace the current ones and promote the orderly and efficient marketing of ginseng in an evolving global economy. Other changes will include a revised General Section, new tolerances, reclassified sizes, removed table ``values'' and amended definitions. These revisions are needed to determine and complement the new grades.
Revision of Cotton Classification Procedures for Determining Cotton Leaf Grade
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is amending the procedures for determining the official leaf grade for Upland and Pima cotton. The leaf grade is a part of the official classification which denotes cotton fiber quality used in cotton marketing and manufacturing of cotton products. Previously, the leaf grade was determined by visual examination and comparison to the Universal Cotton Standards for Leaf Grade that serves as the official cotton standards by qualified cotton classers. Amended procedures replace the classer's leaf determination with the instrument leaf measurement made by the High Volume Instrument (HVI) system, which has been used in official cotton classification for Upland Cotton since 1991.