Food and Nutrition Service, USDA.
This notice announces the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) intent to continue a demonstration project to test program changes designed to improve the State processing of donated poultry by allowing the substitution of donated poultry supplied by the Department of Agriculture (the Department) with commercial poultry. The Department is currently operating a demonstration project that allows selected poultry processors to substitute commercial poultry for donated poultry in the State processing of donated poultry. Only bulk pack poultry and poultry parts are eligible for substitution under the current demonstration project. Notice of the project, which commenced operation on February 1, 1996, was published in the Federal Register at 61 FR 5373 on February 12, 1996. The project was expanded and extended through June 30, 2000 (64 FR 35582, July 1, 1999). Under the demonstration project, FNS invoked its authority under 7 CFR 250.30(t) to waive the current prohibition at 7 CFR 250.30 (f)(1)(i) against the substitution of poultry items and to establish the criteria under which substitution will be permitted.
The Department will continue to operate the demonstration project from July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2002. The Department will use the results of the demonstration project to further examine whether allowing the additional substitution will result in increased processor participation and provide a greater variety of processed end products to recipient agencies in a more timely manner at lower costs.
The proposals described in this Notice may be submitted to FNS through June 30, 2000. Note that the demonstration project runs until June 30, 2002.
Proposals should be sent to Suzanne Rigby, Chief, Schools and Institutions Branch, Food Distribution Division, Food and Consumer Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Park Office Center, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302-1594.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
David Brothers, Schools and Institutions Branch, at (703) 305-2644.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Executive Order 12866
This notice has been determined to be not significant and therefore was not reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.
Executive Order 12372
This program is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance under 10.550 and is subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12372, which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials (7 CFR part 3015, subpart V and final rule-related notices published at 48 FR 29114, June 24, 1983 and 49 FR 22675, May 31, 1984).
Regulatory Flexibility Act
This action is not a rule as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) and is thus exempt from the provisions of that Act.
Section 250.30 of the current Food Distribution Program regulations (7 CFR part 250) sets forth the terms and conditions under which distributing Start Printed Page 25297agencies, subdistributing agencies, and recipient agencies may enter into contracts with commercial firms for processing donated foods and prescribes the minimum requirements to be included in such contracts. Section 250.30(t) authorizes FNS to waive any of the requirements contained in 7 CFR part 250 for the purpose of conducting demonstration projects to test program changes designed to improve the State processing of donated foods.
Current Program Requirements
The State processing regulations at Section 250.30(f)(1)(i) currently allow for the substitution of certain specified donated food items with commercial foods, with the exception of meat and poultry. Under the current regulations at Section 250.30(g), when donated meat or poultry products are processed or when any commercial meat or poultry products are incorporated into an end product containing one or more donated foods, all of the processing is required to be performed in plants under continuous Federal meat or poultry inspection or continuous State meat or poultry inspection in States certified to have programs at least equal to the Federal inspection programs. In addition to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) inspection, all donated meat and poultry processing must be performed under Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) acceptance service grading.
Traditionally only a few companies have processed donated poultry. Those processors have stated that the policy prohibiting the substitution of donated poultry reduces the quantity of donated poultry they are able to accept and process during a given period. Poultry purchased by USDA for further processing is bulk chill packed. Processors must schedule production around deliveries of the donated poultry since it is a highly perishable product. Some of the processors must schedule production around deliveries of donated poultry for up to 30 individual States. Vendors do not always deliver donated poultry to the processors as scheduled, causing delays in production of end products. These delays may be alleviated if the processors can substitute their commercial poultry for donated poultry.
From July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2002, the Department will continue to operate a demonstration project under which it will permit approved processors to substitute commercial poultry for donated poultry in the State processing of donated poultry. FNS is invoking its authority under 7 CFR 250.30(t) to waive the current prohibition in 7 CFR 250.30(f)(1)(i) against the substitution of poultry for purposes of this demonstration project.
The demonstration project will be limited to bulk pack chicken, chicken parts, and bulk pack turkey because the processing of such items can be readily evaluated. The definition of substitution in 7 CFR 250.3 requires the replacement of commercial product for donated food to be of the same generic identity and equal or better quality. With bulk pack chicken, chicken parts, and bulk pack turkey these requirements can be met easily and quickly. Bulk pack turkey has been added to the original demonstration project that allowed for the substitution of bulk pack chicken and bulk pack chicken parts because USDA graders can easily determine if commercial turkey meets or exceeds the specifications for donated turkey.
FNS is inviting interested poultry processors to submit written proposals to participate in the demonstration project. The following basic requirements will apply to the demonstration project:
- As with the processing of donated poultry into end products, AMS graders must monitor the processing of any substituted commercial poultry to ensure program integrity is maintained.
- Only bulk pack chicken, chicken parts, and bulk pack turkey delivered by USDA vendors to the processor will be eligible for substitution. No backhauled product will be eligible. (Backhauled product is typically cut-up frozen poultry parts delivered to schools which may be turned over to processors for further processing at a later time.)
- Substitution of commercial poultry may occur in advance of the actual receipt of the donated poultry by the processor. However, no substitution may occur before the product is purchased by USDA and the contract is awarded. Lead time between the purchase and delivery of donated poultry may be up to five weeks. Any variation between the amount of commercial poultry substituted and the amount of donated poultry received by the processor will be adjusted according to guidelines furnished by USDA.
- Any donated poultry not used in end products because of substitution must only be used by the processor at one of its facilities in other commercial processed products and cannot be sold as an intact unit. However, in lieu of processing the donated poultry, the processor may use the product to fulfill other contracts with USDA provided all terms of the other contract are met.
- The only regulatory provision or State processing contract term affected by the demonstration project is the prohibition on substitution of poultry (section 250.30(f)(1)(i) of the regulations). All other regulatory and contract requirements remain unchanged and must still be met by processors participating in the demonstration project.
The demonstration project will enable FNS to evaluate whether to propose amendment of program regulations to provide for the substitution of donated poultry with commercial poultry in the State processing program. Particular attention will be paid to whether such an amendment of the regulations would probably increase the number of processors participating, and whether it would probably increase the quantity of donated poultry that each processor accepts for processing. Further, FNS will attempt to determine whether the expected increase in competition and the expected increase in the quantity of donated poultry accepted for processing enables processors to function more efficiently, producing a greater variety of processed poultry end products in a more timely manner at lower costs.
The initial, but limited, data gathered from recipient agencies, AMS graders, and AMS procurement has been positive. USDA is convinced that given additional time, more chicken processors will decide to participate. The limited participation in the demonstration, to date, has not provided FNS with sufficient data to make an informed decision regarding benefits that might accrue to State processing programs should the terms of the demonstration be made permanent.
Interested processors should submit a written proposal to FNS outlining how they plan to carry out the substitution while complying with the above conditions. Processors who are currently participating in the demonstration should apply to continue in the demonstration. The proposal must contain (1) a step-by-step description of how production will be monitored, (2) a complete description of the records that will be maintained for (a) the commercial poultry substituted for the donated poultry and (b) the disposition of the donated poultry delivered. All proposals will be reviewed by representatives of the Food Distribution Division of FNS and by representatives of AMS Poultry Division's Grading Branch. Companies approved for participation in the demonstration project will be required to enter into an agreement with FNS and AMS which authorizes the processor to substitute commercial bulk pack Start Printed Page 25298chicken, chicken parts, and bulk pack turkey in fulfilling any current or future State processing contracts during the demonstration project period. Participation in the demonstration project will not ensure the processor will receive any State processing contracts.Start Signature
Dated: April 19, 2000.
Samuel Chambers, Jr.,
Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
[FR Doc. 00-10745 Filed 4-28-00; 8:45 am]
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