National Organic Program: Notice of Draft Guidance for Accredited Certifying Agents, Certified Operations and Applicants for Organic Certification
The National Organic Program (NOP) is announcing the availability of a draft guidance document intended for use by accredited certifying agents and certified operations. The draft guidance document is entitled as follows: Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations (NOP 5020). This draft guidance document is intended to inform the public of NOP's current thinking on this topic. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) invites organic producers, handlers, certifying agents, material evaluation programs, consumers and other interested parties to submit comments about these guidance provisions. A notice of availability of final guidance on this topic will be issued upon its final approval. Once finalized, this guidance document will be available from the NOP through, ``The Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and Certified Operations.'' This Handbook provides those who own, manage, or certify organic operations with guidance and instructions that can assist them in complying with the USDA organic regulations. The current addition of the Program Handbook is available online at: http:// www.ams.usda.gov/nop or in print upon request.
Plant Variety Protection Board; Request for Nominations
The Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) is seeking candidates for the Plant Variety Protection Board (PVP Board). The PVP Board consists of 14 members, each of whom is appointed for a 2-year period, with no member appointed for more than three 2-year periods. The term of the present Board will expire in May 2015. In order to provide the Secretary of Agriculture with a broad choice from a diverse group of applicants, the PVPO is asking for nominated members to serve on the Board for 2 years from the date of appointment. PVP Board members will serve without compensation, except for standard government reimbursable expenses.
Defining Bona Fide Cotton Spot Markets for the World Cotton Futures Contract
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing to amend the regulatory language to designate which bona fide cotton spot markets will be used to determine actual commercial differences in value for various grades above or below the basis grade in the settlement of World cotton futures contracts on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Designating bona fide cotton spot markets for the World cotton futures contract in the regulatory language will allow for AMS to collect spot market price data and publish spot quotes for the settlement of these specific contracts.
Exemption of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion Law
This proposal would modify the organic assessment exemption regulations under 23 Federal marketing orders and 22 research and promotion programs. The current regulations would be amended to allow persons that produce, handle, market, or import certified 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). The exemption would 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, 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. The authority for this proposal is in section 10004 of the Agricultural Act of 2014.
Notice of Request for Extension and Revision 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 Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) intention to request approval, from the Office of Management and Budget, for an extension of and revision to the currently approved information collection Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).
Domestic Dates Produced or Packed in Riverside County, 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 California Date Administrative Committee (committee) for the 2014-15 and subsequent crop years from $0.40 to $0.20 per hundredweight of dates handled. The committee locally administers the marketing order, which regulates the handling of dates grown or packed in Riverside County, California. The interim rule decreased the assessment rate due to a significant decrease in the committee's budgeted expenses. The interim rule was necessary to allow the committee to reduce the assessment rate for the 2014-15 crop year.
Avocados Grown in South Florida; Continuance Referendum
This document directs that a referendum be conducted among eligible producers of avocados grown in South Florida to determine whether they favor continuance of the marketing order regulating the handling of avocados grown in the production area.