Exemption of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion Law
This rule implements the provisions of section 10004 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 and modifies the organic assessment exemption regulations under 23 Federal marketing orders and 22 research and promotion programs (commodity promotion programs). This rule amends the current regulations to allow persons that produce, handle, market, process, manufacture, feed, or import ``organic'' and ``100 percent organic'' products to be exempt from paying assessments associated with commodity promotion activities, including paid advertising, conducted under a commodity promotion program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption also produces, handles, markets, processes, manufactures, feeds, or imports conventional or nonorganic products. Currently, only persons that exclusively produce and market products certified as 100 percent organic are eligible for an exemption from assessments under commodity promotion programs. This rule expands the exemption to cover all ``organic'' and ``100 percent organic'' products certified under the National Organic Program regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption also produces, handles, markets, processes, manufactures, feeds, or imports conventional or nonorganic products.
Paper and Paper-Based Packaging Promotion, Research and Information Order; Late Payment and Interest Charges on Past Due Assessments
This rule prescribes late payment and interest charges on past due assessments under the Paper and Paper-Based Packaging Promotion, Research and Information Order (Order). The Order is administered by the Paper and Packaging Board (Board) with oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under the Order, assessments are collected from manufacturers and importers and used for projects to promote paper and paper-based packaging. This rule implements the authority contained in the Order that allows the Board to collect late payment and interest charges on past due assessments. Two additional changes are being made to reflect current practices and update the Order and regulations. This action contributes to effective administration of the program and was unanimously recommended by the Board.
Tart Cherries Grown in the States of Michigan, et al.; Free and Restricted Percentages for the 2015-16 Crop Year for Tart Cherries
This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (Board) to establish free and restricted percentages for the 2015-16 crop year under the marketing order for tart cherries grown in the states of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin (order). The Board locally administers the marketing order and is comprised of producers and handlers of tart cherries operating within the production area. This action would establish the proportion of tart cherries from the 2015 crop which may be handled in commercial outlets at 80 percent free and 20 percent restricted. In addition, this proposal would increase the carry-out volume of fruit to 55 million pounds for this season. These percentages should stabilize marketing conditions by adjusting supply to meet market demand and help improve grower returns.
National Organic Program (NOP); Sunset 2016 Amendments to the National List
This proposed rule would address recommendations submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) following their April 2015 meeting. These recommendations pertain to the 2016 Sunset Review of substances on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List). Consistent with the recommendations from the NOSB, this proposed rule would remove five non-organic nonagricultural substances from the National List for use in organic handling: Egg white lysozyme, cyclohexylamine, diethylaminoethanol, octadecylamine, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate.
National Organic Program (NOP); Sunset 2015 Amendments to the National List
This final rule addresses recommendations submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) following their October 2014 meeting. These recommendations pertain to the 2015 Sunset Review of substances on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List). Consistent with the recommendations from the NOSB, this final rule removes two nonorganic agricultural substances from the National List for use in organic handling, fortified cooking winesmarsala wine and sherry wine. This final rule also removes two listings for synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production on the National List, streptomycin and tetracycline, as their use exemptions expired on October 21, 2014.
Pistachios Grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico; Increased Assessment Rate
This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (Committee) to increase the assessment rate established for the 2015-16 and subsequent production years from $0.0005 to $0.0035 per pound of assessed weight pistachios handled under the marketing order for pistachios grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Committee locally administers the order and is comprised of producers and handlers of pistachios operating within the area of production. Assessments upon pistachio handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The production year begins on September 1 and ends August 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
Cotton Board Rules and Regulations: Amending Importer Line-Item De Minimis
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposes to amend the Cotton Board Rules and Regulations to remove the cotton import de minimis provision. The Cotton Research and Promotion (R&P) Program assesses U.S. cotton producers and importers of cotton and cotton- containing products. Importers are exempt from paying the cotton import assessment (known commonly among importers as the ``cotton fee'') if a line item on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) documentation is $2.00 or less. The exemption was initially established to lessen the administrative burden of collecting an import assessment, which was originally estimated to be $2.00 per line item, in instances in which the transactions costs of the collection would exceed the actual value of the assessment. However, technological advances in the CBP documentation process significantly reduced the transactions costs associated with collecting import assessments, and CBP has since stopped charging USDA for the processing and collecting of assessments. Given that transactions costs no longer exceed assessment rates of $2.00 or less, AMS proposes to remove this de minimis provision from the regulations. In addition, the definition of cotton with respect to procedures for conducting the sign-up period would also be modified.
Cotton Research and Promotion Program: Determination of Whether To Conduct a Referendum Regarding the 1990 Amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Act
This notice announces the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) determination not to conduct a continuance referendum regarding the 1991 amendments to the Cotton Research and Promotion Order (Order) provided for in the Cotton Research and Promotion Act (Act) amendments of 1990. This determination is based on the results of a sign-up period conducted August 3 through August 14, 2015, during which eligible cotton producers and importers were provided an opportunity to request a continuance referendum.
Onions Grown in Certain Designated Counties in Idaho, and Malheur County, Oregon; Decreased Assessment Rate
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that implemented a recommendation from the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee (Committee) to decrease the assessment rate established for the 2015-2016 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.10 to $0.05 per hundredweight of onions handled under the Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion marketing order (order). The Committee locally administers the order and is comprised of producers and handlers of onions operating within the area of production. Assessments upon onion handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal period begins July 1 and ends June 30. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.