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Rule

Milk in the Northeast and Other Marketing Areas; Order Amending the Orders

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

7 CFR partMarketing areaAO Nos.
1001NortheastAO-14-A72
1005AppalachianAO-388-A13
1006FloridaAO-356-A36
1007SoutheastAO-366-A42
1030Upper MidwestAO-361-A37
1032CentralAO-313-A46
1033MideastAO-166-A70
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1124Pacific NorthwestAO-368-A33
1126SouthwestAO-231-A66
1131Arizona-Las VegasAO-271-A38

SUMMARY:

This document adopts as a final rule order language contained in the final decision published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2004, concerning the reclassification of milk used to produce evaporated or sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages from Class III to Class IV. These provisions are applicable to all Federal milk marketing orders. More than the required number of producers in each of the 10 Federal orders approved the issuance of the amended orders.

DATES:

Effective December 1, 2004.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Antoinette M. Carter, Marketing Specialist, USDA/AMS/Dairy Programs, Order Formulation and Enforcement Branch, STOP 0231—Room 2971, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-0231, (202) 690-3465, e-mail address: antoinette.carter@usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This administrative rule is governed by the provisions of Sections 556 and 557 of Title 5 of the United States Code and, therefore, is excluded from the requirements of Executive Order 12866.

This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have a retroactive effect. This rule will not preempt any state or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with the rule.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may request modification or exemption from such order by filing with the Department a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with the law. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After a hearing, the Department would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the District Court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has its principal place of business, has jurisdiction in equity to review the Department's ruling on the petition, provided a bill in equity is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the Agricultural Marketing Service has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities and has certified that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. For the purpose of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a dairy farm is considered a “small business” if it has an annual gross revenue of less than $750,000, and a dairy products manufacturer is a “small business” if it has fewer than 500 employees.

For the purposes of determining which dairy farms are “small businesses,” the $750,000 per year criterion was used to establish a production guideline of 500,000 pounds per month. Although this guideline does not factor in additional monies that may be received by dairy producers, it should be an inclusive standard for most “small” dairy farmers. For purposes of determining a handler's size, if the plant is part of a larger company operating multiple plants that collectively exceed the 500-employee limit, the plant will be considered a large business even if the local plant has fewer than 500 employees.

During June 2003—the most recent representative period at the time of the hearing—there were a total of 60,096 dairy producers whose milk was pooled under Federal milk orders. Of the total, 56,818 dairy producers—or about 95 percent—were considered small businesses based on the above criteria. During this same period, there were about 1,622 plants associated with Federal milk orders. Specifically, there were approximately 387 fully regulated plants (of which 143 were small businesses), 92 partially regulated plants (of which 41 were small businesses), 44 producer-handlers (of which 23 were considered small businesses), and 108 exempt plants (of which 98 were considered small businesses). Consequently, 950 of the 1,622 plants meet the definition of a small business.

Total pounds of milk pooled under all Federal milk orders was 10.498 billion for June 2003 which represented 73.5 percent of the milk marketed in the United States during June 2003. Of the 10.498 billion pounds of milk pooled under Federal milk orders during June 2003, 1.78 million pounds—or 1.7 percent—was used to produce evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk products in consumer-type packages. Additionally, during this same period, total pounds of Class I milk pooled under Federal milk orders was 3.475 billion pounds, which represents 82.3 percent of the milk used in Class I products (mainly fluid milk products) that were sold in the United States.

This final rule implements proposals that reclassify milk used to produce evaporated milk in consumer-type packages or sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages from Class III to Class IV in all Federal milk orders. This rule is consistent with the Agricultural Agreement Act of 1937 (Act), which authorizes Federal milk marketing orders. The Act specifies that Federal milk orders classify milk “in accordance with the form for which or purpose for which it is used.”

Currently, the Federal milk order system provides for the uniform classification of milk in provisions that define four classes of use for milk (Class I, Class II, Class III, and Class IV). Each Federal milk order sets minimum prices that processors must pay for milk based on how it is used and computes weighted average or uniform prices that dairy producers receive.

Under the milk classification provisions of all Federal milk orders, Class I consists of those products that are used as beverages (whole milk, low fat milk, skim milk, flavored milk products like chocolate milk, etc.)[1] Class II includes soft or spoonable products such as cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream, yogurt, and milk that is used in the manufacturing of other food products. Class III includes all skim milk and butterfat used to make hard cheeses—types that may be grated, shredded, or crumbled; cream cheese; other spreadable cheeses; plastic cream; anhydrous milkfat; and butteroil. Class Start Printed Page 68766III also consists of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages. Class IV includes, among other things, butter and any milk product in dried form such as nonfat dry milk.

Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages are now classified as Class IV because their product characteristics and yields are tied directly to the solids content of the raw milk used to make these products as opposed to the protein content as for Class III products. Like other Class IV products, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages have a relatively long shelf-life (i.e., the products can be stored for more than one year without refrigeration). These products also may be substituted for other Class IV products (e.g., dry whole milk or nonfat dry milk) and compete over a wide geographic area with products made from non-Federally regulated milk. Additionally, like other Class IV products, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages are competitive outlets for milk surplus to the Class I needs of the market.

The amendments in this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on dairy producers or handlers associated with Federal milk orders. Since the reclassification of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages will be uniform in all Federal milk orders, dairy producers and handlers associated with the orders will be subject to the same provisions. The classification change will have only a minimal impact on the price dairy producers receive for their milk due to the small quantity of milk pooled under Federal milk orders that is used to produce evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages. For example, using the Department's production data provided in the hearing record for milk, skim milk, and cream used to produce evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in consumer-type packages by handlers regulated under Federal milk orders for the three years of 2000 through 2002, the reclassification of the milk used to produce these products from Class III to Class IV would have affected the statistical uniform price for all Federal milk orders combined by only $0.0117 per hundredweight.

Paperwork Reduction Act

A review of reporting requirements was completed under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). It was determined that these proposed amendments would have no impact on reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements because they would remain identical to the current requirements. No new forms are proposed and no additional reporting requirements would be necessary.

This action does not require additional information collection that requires clearance by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) beyond currently approved information collection. The primary sources of data used to complete the forms are routinely used in most business transactions. Forms require only a minimal amount of information which can be supplied without data processing equipment or a trained statistical staff. Thus, the information collection and reporting burden is relatively small. Requiring the same reports for all handlers does not significantly disadvantage any handler that is smaller than the industry average.

Prior Documents in This Proceeding

Notice of Hearing: Issued September 2, 2003; published September 8, 2003 (68 FR 52860).

Correction to Notice of Hearing: Issued October 9, 2003; published October 16, 2003 (68 FR 59554).

Tentative Final Decision: Issued February 27, 2004; published March 2, 2004 (69 FR 9763).

Interim Final Rule: Issued April 19, 2004; published April 23, 2004 (69 FR 21950).

Final Decision: Issued September 20, 2004; published September 24, 2004 (69 FR 57233).

Findings and Determinations

The findings and determinations hereinafter set forth supplement those that were made when the Northeast and other orders were first issued and when they were amended. The previous findings and determinations are hereby ratified and confirmed, except where they may conflict with those set forth herein.

The following findings are hereby made with respect to each of the aforesaid orders:

(a) Findings upon the basis of the hearing record. Pursuant to the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), and the applicable rules of practice and procedure governing the formulation of marketing agreements and marketing orders (7 CFR Part 900), a public hearing was held upon certain proposed amendments to the tentative marketing agreements and to the order regulating the handling of milk in the respective marketing areas.

Upon the basis of the evidence introduced at such hearing and the record thereof it is found that:

(1) The said orders, as hereby amended, and all of the terms and conditions thereof, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act;

(2) The parity prices of milk, as determined pursuant to section 2 of the Act, are not reasonable in view of the price of feeds, available supplies of feeds, and other economic conditions which affect market supply and demand for milk in the marketing area, and the minimum prices specified in the orders, as hereby amended, are such prices as will reflect the aforesaid factors, insure a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome milk, and be in the public interest; and

(3) The said orders, as hereby amended, regulate the handling of milk in the same manner as, and are applicable only to persons in the respective classes of industrial and commercial activity specified in, marketing agreement upon which a hearing has been held.

(b) Additional Findings. It is necessary in the public interest to make these amendments to the Northeast and other orders effective December 1, 2004. Any delay beyond that date would tend to disrupt the orderly marketing of milk in the aforesaid marketing areas.

The amendments to these orders are known to handlers. The final decision containing the proposed amendments to these orders was issued on September 20, 2004.

The changes that result from these amendments will not require extensive preparation or substantial alteration in the method of operation for handlers. In view of the foregoing, it is hereby found and determined that good cause exists for making these order amendments effective for milk marketed on or after December 1, 2004.

(c) Determinations. It is hereby determined that:

(1) The refusal or failure of handlers (excluding cooperative associations specified in Sec. 8c(9) of the Act) of more than 50 percent of the milk, which is marketed within the specified marketing area, to sign a proposed marketing agreement, tends to prevent the effectuation of the declared policy of the Act;

(2) The issuance of this order amending the Northeast and other orders is the only practical means pursuant to the declared policy of the Act of advancing the interests of producers as defined in the orders as hereby amended;Start Printed Page 68767

(3) The issuance of the order amending the Northeast and other orders is favored by at least two-thirds of the producers who were engaged in the production of milk for sale in the marketing area.

Specifically, this final rule permanently adopts classification of milk use provisions that reclassify milk used to produce evaporated or sweetened condensed milk products in consumer type-packages from Class III to Class IV.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Parts 1000, 1001, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1030, 1032, 1033, 1124, 1126, and 1131

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Order Relative to Handling

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Parts 1000, 1001, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1030, 1032, 1033, 1124, 1126, and 1131—General Provisions and Milk in the Northeast and other Milk Marketing Areas.

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The interim final rule amending

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Dated: November 19, 2004.

A.J. Yates,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Serivce.

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Footnotes

1.  Federal milk orders do not classify products but instead classify the milk (skim milk and butterfat) disposed of in the form of a product or used to produce a product. This rule references “Class I products,” “Class II products,” “Class III products,” and “Class IV products” to simplify the findings and conclusions.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 04-26123 Filed 11-24-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-U