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Rule

Milk in the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast Marketing Areas; Order Amending the Orders

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final Rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule amends the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast Federal milk marketing orders (Orders 5, 6, and 7). Specifically, the final rule implements a temporary supplemental charge on Class I milk that will be disbursed to handlers who incurred extraordinary transportation costs for bulk milk movements in and to Orders 5, 6, and 7 as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. The amendments are based on record evidence of a public hearing held on October 7, 2004. More than the required number of dairy farmers approved the issuance of the amended orders.

DATES:

Effective Date: December 10, 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 action 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.Start Printed Page 71698

During August 2004, the most recent representative month, the milk of 7,239 dairy farmers was pooled under the Appalachian (Order 5), Florida (Order 6), and Southeast (Order 7) milk orders (3,400 Order 5 dairy farmers, 267 Order 6 dairy farmers, and 3,572 Order 7 dairy farmers, respectively). Of the 7,239 dairy farmers, 80 percent met the definition of small business. Specifically, the number of dairy farmers considered small businesses for Order 5, Order 6, and Order 7 were 3,230 or 95 percent, 134 or 50 percent, and 3,407 or 95 percent, respectively.

During August 2004, there were 65 fully regulated plants under Orders 5, 6, and 7. Of the 65 plants, 7 were considered small businesses. Specifically, there were 25 Order 5 plants (of which 2 were small businesses), 12 Order 6 plants (of which 3 were small businesses), and 28 Order 7 plants (of which 2 were small businesses).

The amendments in this final rule will provide temporary reimbursement to handlers (cooperative associations and proprietary handlers) who incurred extraordinary transportation expenses for bulk milk movements resulting from the impact of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne on the Southeastern United States, particularly the State of Florida. The proposed amendments were requested by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Lone Star Milk Producers, Inc., Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc., and Southeast Milk, Inc. The dairy farmer members of these four cooperatives supply the majority of the milk pooled under the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast orders. The final rule will implement, for a 3-month period beginning January 1, 2005, a supplemental increase in the Class I milk price at a rate not to exceed $.04 per hundredweight of milk in the Appalachian and Southeast orders, and a rate not to exceed $.09 per hundredweight of milk in the Florida order. The amount generated through the Class I milk increase will be disbursed during February 2005 through April 2005 to qualifying handlers who incurred extraordinary transportation costs as a result of the hurricanes. The reimbursement for extraordinary transportation costs will be disbursed to qualifying handlers on an actual transportation costs basis or at a rate of $2.25 per loaded mile, whichever is less.

The aforementioned hurricanes occurred during a 7-week period of time and disrupted the orderly flow of milk movements in and to the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast marketing areas. The four hurricanes caused handlers in the southeastern markets, particularly in the Florida marketing area, to experience disruptions in moving bulk milk to supply the Class I (fluid milk) needs of the individual marketing areas.

One of the functions of the Federal milk order program is to provide for the orderly exchange of milk between the dairy farmer and the handler (first buyer) to ensure the Class I needs of the market are met. The record evidence clearly reveals that the movements of bulk milk for Orders 5 and 7, and particularly Order 6 were disrupted due to the hurricanes. Accordingly, the amendments adopted in this final rule will provide temporary transportation cost reimbursement to handlers who incurred additional transportation expenses for bulk milk movements that were disrupted as a result of extraordinary weather conditions in Orders 5, 6, and 7.

The amendments will provide reimbursement to handlers for transportation expenses totaling over $1.6 million for movements of bulk milk due to the hurricanes. The supplemental increase in the minimum price of Class I milk at a maximum rate of $.09 per hundredweight for Order 6 is anticipated to increase the price of a gallon of milk by not more than $0.0078 (i.e., less than 1-cent) during each month of the 3-month period. Likewise, a supplemental increase at a maximum rate of $.04 per hundredweight for Orders 5 and 7 is anticipated to increase the price of a gallon of milk by not more than $0.0034 (i.e., less than 1-cent) during each month of the 3-month period. The estimated impact on the price per gallon of milk was calculated by converting the hundredweight value to gallons using 8.62 pounds of milk per gallon.

Handlers in Orders 5, 6, and 7 should not be placed at a competitive disadvantage because of the temporary and limited supplemental increase in the minimum Class I milk price. The amendments also are not expected to impact the blend price of dairy farmers. Accordingly, the adopted amendments should not significantly impact producers or handlers due to the limited implementation period and the minimum increase in the Class I milk price.

Paperwork Reduction Act

A review of reporting requirements was completed under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). As such, the information collection requirements in this final rule do not require clearance by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) beyond the currently approved information collections. This final rule will impose only minimal reporting requirements on handlers applying for reimbursement of additional transportation expenses incurred due to the aforementioned hurricanes.

Prior documents in this proceeding:

Notice of Hearing: Issued September 28, 2004; published September 30, 2004 (69 FR 58368).

Final Decision: Issued November 15, 2004; published November 19, 2004 (69 FR 67670).

Findings and Determinations

The following findings and determinations hereinafter set forth supplement those that were made when the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast 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 orders regulating the handling of milk in the specified 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 aforesaid marketing areas. 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 regulates the handling of milk in the same manner as, and is applicable only to persons in the respective classes of industrial or commercial activity specified in, marketing agreements upon which a hearing has been held.Start Printed Page 71699

(b) Additional Findings. It is necessary and in the public interest to make these amendments to the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast orders effective December 10, 2004. This effective date will ensure the timely implementation of the amendments.

The amendments to these orders are known to handlers. The final decision containing the proposed amendments to these orders was issued on November 15, 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 theses amendments effective December 10, 2004. It would be contrary to the public interest to delay the effective date of these amendments for 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register. (Sec. 553(d), Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C 551-559.)

(c) Determinations. It is hereby determined that:

(1) The refusal or failure of handlers (excluding cooperative associations specified in Section 8c(9) of the Act) of more than 50 percent of the milk that is marketed within the specified marketing areas 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 Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast orders are 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;

(3) The issuance of the order amending the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast orders are favored by at least two-thirds of the producers who were engaged in the production of milk for sale in each of the marketing areas.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Parts 1005, 1006, and 1007

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Order Relative to Handling

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PARTS 1005, 1006, and 1007—[AMENDED]

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1. The authority citation for

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601-674.

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PART 1005—MILK IN THE APPALACHIAN MARKETING AREA

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2. Section 1005.60 is amended by revising paragraph (a) and adding a new paragraph (g) to read as follows:

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Handler's value of milk.
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(a) Multiply the pounds of skim milk and butterfat in producer milk that were classified in each class pursuant to § 1000.44(c) by the applicable skim milk and butterfat prices, and add the resulting amounts; except that for the months of January 2005 through March 2005, the Class I skim milk price for this purpose shall be the Class I skim milk price as determined in § 1000.50(b) plus $0.04 per hundredweight, and the Class I butterfat price for this purpose shall be the Class I butterfat price as determined in § 1000.50(c) plus $0.0004 per pound. The adjustments to the Class I skim milk and butterfat prices provided herein may be reduced by the market administrator for any month if the market administrator determines that the payments yet unpaid computed pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) and paragraph (g)(7) of this section will be less than the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (g)(6) of this section. The adjustments to the Class I skim milk and butterfat prices provided herein during the months of January 2005 through March 2005 shall be announced along with the prices announced in § 1000.53(b);

* * * * *

(g) For the months of January 2005 through March 2005 for handlers who have submitted proof satisfactory to the market administrator to determine eligibility for reimbursement of transportation costs, subtract an amount equal to:

(1) The cost of transportation on loads of producer milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(2) The cost of transportation on loads of producer milk delivered or rerouted to a pool supply plant that was then transferred to a pool distributing plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(3) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant from a pool supply plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(4) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant from another order plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne; and

(5) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk transferred or diverted to a plant regulated under another Federal order or to other nonpool plants which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.

(6) The total amount of payment to all handlers under this section shall be limited for each month to an amount determined by multiplying the total Class I producer milk for all handlers pursuant to § 1000.44(c) times $0.04 per hundredweight.

(7) If the cost of transportation computed pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section exceeds the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (g)(6) of this section, the market administrator shall prorate such payments to each handler based on the handler's proportion of transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section. Transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section which are not paid as a result of such a proration shall be included in each subsequent month's transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section until paid, or until the time period for such payments is concluded.

(8) The reimbursement of transportation costs pursuant to this section shall be the actual demonstrated cost of such transportation of bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section, or the miles of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section multiplied by $2.25 per loaded mile, whichever is less.

(9) For each handler, the reimbursement of transportation costs pursuant to paragraph (g) of this section for bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section shall be reduced by the amount of payments received for such milk movements from the transportation credit balancing fund pursuant to § 1005.82.

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PART 1006—MILK IN THE FLORIDA MARKETING AREA

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3. Section 1006.60 is amended by revising paragraph (a) and adding a new paragraph (g) to read as follows:

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Handler's value of milk.
* * * * *

(a) Multiply the pounds of skim milk and butterfat in producer milk that were classified in each class pursuant to § 1000.44(c) by the applicable skim milk and butterfat prices, and add the resulting amounts; except that for the months of January 2005 through March 2005, the Class I skim milk price for this purpose shall be the Class I skim milk price as determined in § 1000.50(b) plus $0.09 per hundredweight, and the Class I butterfat price for this purpose shall be the Class I butterfat price as determined in § 1000.50(c) plus $0.0009 per pound. The adjustments to the Class I skim milk and butterfat prices provided herein may be reduced by the market administrator for any month if the market administrator determines that the payments yet unpaid computed pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) and paragraph (g)(7) of this section will be less than the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (g)(6) of this section. The adjustments to the Class I skim milk and butterfat prices provided herein during the months of January 2005 through March 2005 shall be announced along with the prices announced in § 1000.53(b);

* * * * *

(g) For the months of January 2005 through March 2005 for handlers who have submitted proof satisfactory to the market administrator to determine eligibility for reimbursement of transportation costs subtract an amount equal to:

(1) The cost of transportation on loads of producer milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(2) The cost of transportation on loads of producer milk delivered or rerouted to a pool supply plant that was then transferred to a pool distributing plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(3) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant from a pool supply plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(4) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant from another order plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne; and

(5) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk transferred or diverted to a plant regulated under another Federal order or to other nonpool plants which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.

(6) The total amount of payment to all handlers under this section shall be limited for each month to an amount determined by multiplying the total Class I producer milk for all handlers pursuant to § 1000.44(c) times $0.09 per hundredweight.

(7) If the cost of transportation computed pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section exceeds the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (g)(6) of this section, the market administrator shall prorate such payments to each handler based on each handler's proportion of transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section. Transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section which are not paid as a result of such a proration shall be included in each subsequent month's transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section until paid, or until the time period for such payments has concluded.

(8) The reimbursement of transportation costs pursuant to this section shall be the actual demonstrated cost of such transportation of bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section, or the miles of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section multiplied by $2.25 per loaded mile, whichever is less.

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PART 1007—MILK IN THE SOUTHEAST MARKETING AREA

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4. Section 1007.60 is amended by revising paragraph (a) and adding a new paragraph (g) to read as follows:

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Handler's value of milk
* * * * *

(a) Multiply the pounds of skim milk and butterfat in producer milk that were classified in each class pursuant to § 1000.44(c) by the applicable skim milk and butterfat prices, and add the resulting amounts; except that for the months of January 2005 through March 2005, the Class I skim milk price for this purpose shall be the Class I skim milk price as determined in § 1000.50(b) plus $0.04 per hundredweight, and the Class I butterfat price for this purpose shall be the Class I butterfat price as determined in § 1000.50(c) plus $0.0004 per pound. The adjustments to the Class I skim milk and butterfat prices provided herein may be reduced by the market administrator for any month if the market administrator determines that the payments yet unpaid computed pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) and paragraph (g)(7) of this section will be less than the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (g)(6) of this section. The adjustments to the Class I skim milk and butterfat prices provided herein during the months of January 2005 through March 2005 shall be announced along with the prices announced in § 1000.53(b);

* * * * *

(g) For the months of January 2005 through March 2005 for handlers who have submitted proof satisfactory to the market administrator to determine eligibility for reimbursement of transportation costs, subtract an amount equal to:

(1) The cost of transportation on loads of producer milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(2) The cost of transportation on loads of producer milk delivered or rerouted to a pool supply plant that was then transferred to a pool distributing plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(3) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant from a pool supply plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne;

(4) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted to a pool distributing plant from another order plant which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne; and

(5) The cost of transportation on loads of bulk milk transferred or diverted to a plant regulated under another Federal order or to other nonpool plants which were delivered as a result of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.

(6) The total amount of payment to all handlers under this section shall be limited for each month to an amount determined by multiplying the total Class I producer milk for all handlers pursuant to § 1000.44(c) times $0.04 per hundredweight.

(7) If the cost of transportation computed pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section exceeds the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (g)(6) of this section, the market administrator shall prorate such Start Printed Page 71701payments to each handler based on each handler's proportion of transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section. Transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section which are not paid as a result of such a proration shall be included in each subsequent month's transportation costs submitted pursuant to paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section until paid, or until the time period for such payments has concluded.

(8) The reimbursement of transportation costs pursuant to this section shall be the actual demonstrated cost of such transportation of bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section, or the miles of transportation on loads of bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section multiplied by $2.25 per loaded mile, whichever is less.

(9) For each handler, the reimbursement of transportation costs pursuant to paragraph (g) of this section for bulk milk delivered or rerouted as described in paragraphs (g)(1) through (5) of this section shall be reduced by the amount of payments received for such milk movements from the transportation credit balancing fund pursuant to § 1007.82.

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Dated: December 7, 2004.

A.J. Yates,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 04-27159 Filed 12-7-04; 2:54 pm]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-U