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.