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Rule

Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Spearmint Oil Produced in the Far West; Revision of the Salable Quantity and Allotment Percentage for Class 3 (Native) Spearmint Oil for the 2006-2007 Marketing Year

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Interim final rule with request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This rule revises the quantity of Class 3 (Native) spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2006-2007 marketing year. This rule increases the Native spearmint oil salable quantity from 1,007,886 pounds to 1,161,260 pounds, and the allotment percentage from 46 percent to 53 percent. The marketing order regulates the handling of spearmint oil produced in the Far West and is administered locally by the Spearmint Oil Administrative Committee (Committee). The Committee recommended this rule for the purpose of avoiding extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices and to help maintain stability in the Far West spearmint oil market.

DATES:

Effective June 1, 2006, through May 31, 2007; comments received by July 25, 2006 will be considered prior to issuance of a final rule.

ADDRESSES:

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments Start Printed Page 30267concerning this rule. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; E-mail: moab.docketclerk@usda.gov; or Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the docket number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/​fv/​moab.html.

FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan M. Hiller, Northwest Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (503) 326-2724, Fax: (503) 326-7440.

Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.

End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 985 (7 CFR part 985), as amended, regulating the handling of spearmint oil produced in the Far West (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and designated parts of Nevada and Utah), hereinafter referred to as the “order.” The order is effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the “Act.”

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866.

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the provisions of the marketing order now in effect, salable quantities and allotment percentages may be established for classes of spearmint oil produced in the Far West. This rule increases the quantity of Native spearmint oil produced in the Far West that may be purchased from or handled for producers by handlers during the 2006-2007 marketing year, which ends on May 31, 2007. This rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule.

The Act 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 file with USDA 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 law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing USDA 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 his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling.

The original salable quantity and allotment percentages for Scotch and Native spearmint oil for the 2006-2007 marketing year were recommended by the Committee at its October 5, 2005, meeting. The Committee recommended salable quantities of 878,205 pounds and 1,007,886 pounds, and allotment percentages of 45 percent and 46 percent, respectively, for Scotch and Native spearmint oil. A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2006 (71 FR 5183). Comments on the proposed rule were solicited from interested persons until March 3, 2006. No comments were received. Subsequently, a final rule establishing the salable quantities and allotment percentages for Scotch and Native spearmint oil for the 2006-2007 marketing year was published in the Federal Register on April 5, 2006 (71 FR 16986).

This rule revises the quantity of Native spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2006-2007 marketing year, which ends on May 31, 2007. Pursuant to authority contained in §§ 985.50, 985.51, and 985.52 of the order, the Committee, with seven of the eight members present, met on April 18, 2006, and unanimously recommended that the 2006-2007 Native spearmint oil allotment percentage be increased by 7 percent.

Thus, taking into consideration the following discussion on adjustments to the Native spearmint oil salable quantity, this rule increases the 2006-2007 marketing year salable quantity and allotment percentage for Native spearmint oil to 1,161,260 pounds and 53 percent, respectively.

The salable quantity is the total quantity of each class of oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the marketing year. The total salable quantity is divided by the total industry allotment base to determine an allotment percentage. Each producer is allotted a share of the salable quantity by applying the allotment percentage to the producer's individual allotment base for the applicable class of spearmint oil.

The estimated total industry allotment base for Native spearmint oil for the 2006-2007 marketing year was established at 2,191,056 pounds. This figure represents a one percent increase over the revised 2005-2006 total allotment base. This figure is generally revised each year on June 1 due to producer base being lost due to the bona fide effort production provisions of § 985.53(e). The revision is usually minimal.

By increasing the salable quantity and allotment percentage, this rule makes an additional amount of Native spearmint oil available by releasing oil from the reserve pool. When applied to each individual producer, the allotment percentage increase allows each producer to take up to an amount equal to their allotment base from their reserve for this respective class of oil. Before November 1, 2006, a producer may also transfer excess oil to another producer to enable that producer to fill a deficiency in that producer's annual allotment for this class of oil.

The following table summarizes the Committee recommendation:

Native Spearmint Oil Recommendation

(A) Estimated 2006-2007 Allotment Base—2,191,056 pounds. This is the estimate on which the original 2006-2007 Native spearmint oil salable quantity and allotment percentage was based.

(B) Original 2006-2007 Allotment Percentage—46 percent. This was unanimously recommended by the Committee on October 5, 2005.

(C) Original 2006-2007 Salable Quantity—1,007,886 pounds. This figure is 46 percent of the estimated 2006-2007 allotment base of 2,191,056 pounds.

(D) Increase in Allotment Percentage—7 percent. The Committee recommended a 7 percent increase at its April 18, 2006, meeting.

(E) 2006-2007 Allotment Percentage—53 percent. This figure is derived by adding the increase of 7 percent to the original 2006-2007 allotment percentage of 46 percent.

(F) Calculated Revised 2006-2007 Salable Quantity—1,161,260 pounds. This figure is 53 percent of the estimated 2006-2007 allotment base of 2,191,056 pounds.

(G) Computed Increase in the 2006-2007 Salable Quantity—153,374 Start Printed Page 30268pounds. This figure is 7 percent of the estimated 2006-2007 allotment base of 2,191,056 pounds.

In making this recommendation, the Committee considered all available information on price, supply, and demand. The Committee also considered reports and other information from handlers and producers in attendance at the meeting and reports given by the Committee manager from handlers and producers who were not in attendance. On average, handlers estimated that the demand for 2006-2007 spearmint oil is 300,000 pounds above the quantity already contracted for sale.

The 2006-2007 marketing year will begin on June 1, 2006, with an estimated carry-in of 50,000 pounds of salable oil. When the estimated carry-in is added to the original 2006-2007 salable quantity of 1,007,886 pounds, a total estimated available supply for the 2006-2007 marketing year of 1,057,886 pounds results. Of this amount, 819,560 pounds of oil has already been contracted for the 2006-2007 marketing year. Additionally, an estimated deficiency of 133,800 pounds may exist from producers not producing their full salable quantity. As a result, an estimated 104,526 pounds of oil would remain uncontracted and available for sale without this increase. This increase will supply an additional 153,374 pounds of oil to the market, resulting in 257,900 pounds of oil available for contracting for 2006-2007 marketing year.

The Committee was reluctant to increase the salable quantity any more due to the uncertainty of the 2006-2007 marketing year; however, the Committee believed that an increase was necessary to supply the higher quantity demanded according to their revised market estimate. Therefore, the industry may not be able to meet market demand without this increase. In addition, when the Committee made its original recommendation for the establishment of the Native spearmint oil salable quantity and allotment percentage for the 2006-2007 marketing year, it had anticipated that the year would end with an ample available supply.

Based on its analysis of available information, USDA has determined that the salable quantity and allotment percentage for Native spearmint oil for the 2006-2007 marketing year should be increased to 1,161,260 pounds and 53 percent, respectively.

This rule relaxes the regulation of Native spearmint oil and will allow producers to meet market demand while improving producer returns. In conjunction with the issuance of this rule, the Committee's revised marketing policy statement for the 2006-2007 marketing year has been reviewed by USDA. The Committee's marketing policy statement, a requirement whenever the Committee recommends implementing volume regulations or recommends revisions to existing volume regulations, meets the intent of § 985.50 of the order. During its discussion of revising the 2006-2007 salable quantity and allotment percentage, the Committee considered: (1) The estimated quantity of salable oil of each class held by producers and handlers; (2) the estimated demand for each class of oil; (3) prospective production of each class of oil; (4) total of allotment bases of each class of oil for the current marketing year and the estimated total of allotment bases of each class for the ensuing marketing year; (5) the quantity of reserve oil, by class, in storage; (6) producer prices of oil, including prices for each class of oil; and (7) general market conditions for each class of oil, including whether the estimated season average price to producers is likely to exceed parity. Conformity with USDA's “Guidelines for Fruit, Vegetable, and Specialty Crop Marketing Orders” has also been reviewed and confirmed.

The increase in the Native spearmint oil salable quantity and allotment percentage allows for anticipated market needs for this class of oil. In determining anticipated market needs, consideration by the Committee was given to historical sales, and changes and trends in production and demand.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis.

The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of business subject to such actions in order that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued pursuant to the Act, and the rules issued thereunder, are unique in that they are brought about through group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf. Thus, both statutes have small entity orientation and compatibility.

There are eight spearmint oil handlers subject to regulation under the order, and approximately 59 producers of Scotch spearmint oil and approximately 88 producers of Native spearmint oil in the regulated production area. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts of less than $6,500,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000.

Based on the SBA's definition of small entities, the Committee estimates that 2 of the 8 handlers regulated by the order could be considered small entities. Most of the handlers are large corporations involved in the international trading of essential oils and the products of essential oils. In addition, the Committee estimates that 19 of the 59 Scotch spearmint oil producers and 18 of the 88 Native spearmint oil producers could be classified as small entities under the SBA definition. Thus, a majority of handlers and producers of Far West spearmint oil may not be classified as small entities.

The Far West spearmint oil industry is characterized by producers whose farming operations generally involve more than one commodity, and whose income from farming operations is not exclusively dependent on the production of spearmint oil. A typical spearmint oil-producing operation has enough acreage for rotation such that the total acreage required to produce the crop is about one-third spearmint and two-thirds rotational crops. Thus, the typical spearmint oil producer has to have considerably more acreage than is planted to spearmint during any given season. Crop rotation is an essential cultural practice in the production of spearmint for weed, insect, and disease control. To remain economically viable with the added costs associated with spearmint oil production, most spearmint oil-producing farms fall into the SBA category of large businesses.

Small spearmint oil producers generally are not as extensively diversified as larger ones and as such are more at risk to market fluctuations. Such small producers generally need to market their entire annual crop and do not have the luxury of having other crops to cushion seasons with poor spearmint oil returns. Conversely, large diversified producers have the potential to endure one or more seasons of poor spearmint oil markets because income from alternate crops could support the operation for a period of time. Being reasonably assured of a stable price and market provides small producing entities with the ability to maintain proper cash flow and to meet annual expenses. Thus, the market and price stability provided by the order potentially benefit the small producer more than such provisions benefit large producers. Even though a majority of Start Printed Page 30269handlers and producers of spearmint oil may not be classified as small entities, the volume control feature of this order has small entity orientation.

This rule revises the quantity of Native spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from, or handle for, producers during the 2006-2007 marketing year, which ends on May 31, 2007. This rule increases the Native spearmint oil salable quantity from 1,007,886 pounds to 1,161,260 pounds, and the allotment percentage from 46 percent to 53 percent.

An econometric model was used to assess the impact that volume control has on the prices producers receive for their commodity. Without volume control, spearmint oil markets would likely be over-supplied, resulting in low producer prices and a large volume of oil stored and carried over to the next crop year. The model estimates how much lower producer prices would likely be in the absence of volume controls.

The recommended allotment percentages, upon which 2006-2007 producer allotments are based, are 45 percent for Scotch and 53 percent for Native (a 7 percentage point increase from the original salable percentage of 46 percent). Without volume controls, producers would not be limited to these allotment levels, and could produce and sell additional spearmint oil. The econometric model estimated a $1.40 decline in the season average producer price per pound (from both classes of spearmint oil) resulting from the higher quantities that would be produced and marketed if volume controls were not used (i.e., if the salable percentages were set at 100 percent).

Loosening the volume control restriction by increasing the allotment percentages resulted in this revised price decline estimate of $1.40 per pound if volume controls were not used. A previous price decline estimate of $1.49 per pound was based on the 2006-2007 allotment percentages (45 percent for Scotch and 46 percent for Native) published in the Federal Register on April 5, 2006 (71 FR 16986).

The surplus situation for the spearmint oil market that would exist without volume controls in 2006-2007 also would likely dampen prospects for improved producer prices in future years because of the buildup in stocks.

The use of volume controls allows the industry to fully supply spearmint oil markets while avoiding the negative consequences of over-supplying these markets. The use of volume controls is believed to have little or no effect on consumer prices of products containing spearmint oil and will not result in fewer retail sales of such products.

Based on projections available at the meeting, the Committee considered alternatives to the increase. The Committee not only considered leaving the salable quantity and allotment percentage unchanged, but also looked at various increases ranging from 0 percent to 10 percent. The Committee reached its recommendation to increase the salable quantity and allotment percentage for Native spearmint oil after careful consideration of all available information, and believes that the level recommended will achieve the objectives sought. Without the increase, the Committee believes the industry would not be able to meet market needs.

This rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large spearmint oil handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies.

AMS is committed to compliance with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA), which requires Government agencies in general to provide the public the option of submitting information or transacting business electronically to the maximum extent possible.

In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule.

Further, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout the spearmint oil industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like all Committee meetings, the April 18, 2006, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their views on this issue. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit information on the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses.

A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/​fv/​moab.html. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

This rule invites comments on a change to the salable quantity and allotment percentage for Native spearmint oil for the 2006-2007 marketing year. Any comments received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule.

After consideration of all relevant material presented, including the Committee's recommendation, and other information, it is found that this interim final rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it is also found and determined upon good cause that it is impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public interest to give preliminary notice prior to putting this rule into effect and that good cause exists for not postponing the effective date of this rule until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register because: (1) This rule increases the quantity of Native spearmint oil that may be marketed during the marketing year which ends on May 31, 2007; (2) the current quantity of Native spearmint oil may be inadequate to meet demand for the 2006-2007 marketing year, thus making the additional oil available as soon as is practicable will be beneficial to both handlers and producers; (3) the Committee recommended these changes at a public meeting and interested parties had an opportunity to provide input; and (4) this rule provides a 60-day comment period and any comments received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 985

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For the reasons set forth in the preamble,

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PART 985—MARKETING ORDER REGULATING THE HANDLING OF SPEARMINT OIL PRODUCED IN THE FAR WEST

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1. The authority citation for

End Amendment Part Start Authority

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

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2. In § 985.225, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:

End Amendment Part

Note:

This section will not appear in the annual Code of Federal Regulations.

Salable quantities and allotment percentages—2006-2007 marketing year.
* * * * *

(b) Class 3 (Native) oil—a salable quantity of 1,161,260 pounds and an allotment percentage of 53 percent.

Start Signature
Start Printed Page 30270

Dated: May 22, 2006

Lloyd C. Day,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E6-8105 Filed 5-25-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P