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Rule

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

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule maintains the current fluid milk product definition's compositional standard of 6.5 percent nonfat milk solids criterion and incorporates an equivalent 2.25 percent true milk protein criterion for determining if a product meets the compositional standard. This final rule also determines how milk and milk-derived ingredients should be priced under all Federal milk marketing orders when used in products meeting the fluid milk product definition. It provides exemptions for drinkable yogurt products containing at least 20 percent yogurt (by weight), kefir, and products intended to be meal replacements from the fluid milk product definition. A referendum was held and the required number of producers approved the issuance of the orders as amended.

DATES:

Effective Date: January 1, 2011.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Henry H. Schaefer, Economist, USDA/AMS/Dairy Programs, Upper Midwest Milk Market Administrators Office, Suite 200, 1600 West 82nd Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55431-1420, (952) 831-5292, e-mail address: hschaefer@fmma30.com; or William Francis, Associate Deputy Administrator, USDA/AMS/Dairy Programs, Order Formulation and Enforcement, Stop 0231—Room 2971-S, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-0231, (202) 720-6274, e-mail address: william.francis@ams.usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This final rule amends the fluid milk product definition in all Federal milk marketing orders. This rulemaking action maintains the current fluid milk product definition's compositional standard of 6.5 percent nonfat milk solids and incorporates an equivalent 2.25 percent true milk protein criterion for determining if a product meets the compositional standard. This final rule also amends determining how milk and milk-derived ingredients should be priced under all Federal milk marketing orders when used in products meeting the fluid milk product definition. It exempts drinkable yogurt products containing at least 20 percent yogurt (by weight), kefir, infant formulas, dietary products (meal replacements) and other products that may contain milk-derived ingredients from the fluid milk product definition.

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 herein has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. The final rule is not intended to have a retroactive effect.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (Act), 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 Start Printed Page 51930opportunity 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 habitant, or has its principal place of business, has jurisdiction in equity to review the USDA'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 and Paperwork Reduction Act

In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), 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.

For the month of June 2005, the month the hearing was held, 52,425 dairy farmers were pooled on the Federal order system. Of the total, 49,160, or 94 percent were considered small businesses. During the same month, 1,530 plants were regulated by or reported their milk receipts to their respective Market Administrator. Of the total, 847, or 55 percent were considered small businesses.

The fluid milk product definition sets out the criteria for determining if the use of producer milk and milk-derived ingredients in such products should be priced at the Class I price. The established criteria for the classification of producer milk are applied in an identical fashion to both large and small businesses and will not have any different impact on those businesses producing fluid milk products thus assuring that similarly situated handlers have the same minimum price as required by section 608(c)5 of the Act. Therefore, the amendments will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The impact of the proposed amendments on large and small entities would be negligible. In fact, the amendment proposing to change the classification of kefir and drinkable yogurt is estimated to affect blend prices by no more than $0.0026 per cwt based on record evidence.

The Agricultural Marketing Service is committed to complying with the E-Government Act to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes.

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 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 are necessary.

This notice does not require additional information collection that needs 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. The forms require only a minimal amount of information that 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 April 6, 2005; published April 12, 2005 (70 FR 19012).

Recommended Decision: Issued May 12, 2006; published May 17, 2006 (71 FR 28590).

Final Decision: Issued May 21, 2010; published June 14, 2010 (75 FR 33534).

Technical Correction: Issued June 18, 2010; published June 24, 2010 (75 FR 36015).

Findings and Determinations

The findings and determinations hereinafter set forth supplement those that were made when the 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 the Northeast and other marketing orders:

(a) Findings Upon the Basis of the Hearing Record

A public hearing was held with regard to certain proposed amendments to the tentative marketing agreements and to the orders regulating the handling of milk in the Northeast and other marketing areas. The hearing was held pursuant to the provisions of the AMAA and the applicable rules of practice and procedure (7 CFR part 900).

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 AMAA;

(2) The parity prices of milk, as determined pursuant to section 2 of the AMAA, 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;

(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 or commercial activity specified in, the marketing agreements upon which a hearing has been held; and

(4) All milk and milk products handled by handlers, as defined in the tentative marketing agreements and the orders as hereby amended, are in the current of interstate commerce or directly burden, obstruct, or affect interstate commerce in milk or its products.

(b) Determinations

It is hereby determined that:

(1) The refusal or failure of handlers (excluding cooperative associations specified in section 8c(9) of the AMAA) of more than 50 percent of the milk, which is marketed within the specified marketing areas, to sign a proposed marketing agreement, tends to prevent the effectuation of the declared policy of the AMAA;Start Printed Page 51931

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

(3) The issuance of this 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 respective marketing areas.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1000

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Order Relative to Handling

It is therefore ordered, that on and after the effective date hereof, the handling of milk in the Northeast and other marketing areas shall be in conformity to and in compliance with the terms and conditions of the orders, as amended, and as hereby amended, as follows:

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For reasons set forth in the preamble,

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PART 1000—GENERAL PROVISIONS OF FEDERAL MILK MARKETING ORDERS

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1. The authority citation for

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601-674, and 7253.

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2. In § 1000.15, paragraphs (a) and (b)(1) are revised to read as follows:

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Fluid milk product.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, fluid milk product shall mean any milk products in fluid or frozen form that are intended to be used as beverages containing less than 9 percent butterfat and 6.5 percent or more nonfat solids or 2.25 percent or more true milk protein. Sources of such nonfat solids/protein include but are not limited to: Casein, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, dry whey, caseinates, lactose, and any similar dairy derived ingredient. Such products include, but are not limited to: Milk, fat-free milk, lowfat milk, light milk, reduced fat milk, milk drinks, eggnog and cultured buttermilk, including any such beverage products that are flavored, cultured, modified with added or reduced nonfat solids, sterilized, concentrated, or reconstituted. As used in this part, the term concentrated milk means milk that contains not less than 25.5 percent, and not more than 50 percent, total milk solids.

(b) * * *

(1) Any product that contains less than 6.5 percent nonfat milk solids and contains less than 2.25 percent true milk protein; whey; plain or sweetened evaporated milk/skim milk; sweetened condensed milk/skim milk; yogurt containing beverages with 20 or more percent yogurt by weight and kefir; products especially prepared for infant feeding or dietary use (meal replacement) that are packaged in hermetically sealed containers; and products that meet the compositional standards specified in paragraph (a) of this section but contain no fluid milk products included in paragraph (a) of this section.

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3. In § 1000.40, paragraph (b)(2)(iii) and (b)(2)(vi) are revised to read as follows:

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Classes of utilization.
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(b) * * *

(2) * * *

(iii) Aerated cream, frozen cream, sour cream, sour half-and-half, sour cream mixtures containing non-milk items; yogurt, including yogurt containing beverages with 20 percent or more yogurt by weight and kefir, and any other semi-solid product resembling a Class II product;

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(vi) Products especially prepared for infant feeding or dietary use (meal replacements) that are packaged in hermetically sealed containers and products that meet the compositional standards of § 1000.15(a) but contain no fluid milk products included in § 1000.15(a).

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4. In § 1000.43, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows:

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General classification rules.
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(c) If any of the water but none of the nonfat solids contained in the milk from which a product is made is removed before the product is utilized or disposed of by the handler, the pounds of skim milk in such product that are to be considered under this part as used or disposed of by the handler shall be an amount equivalent to the nonfat milk solids contained in such product plus all of the water originally associated with such solids. If any of the nonfat solids contained in the milk from which a product is made are removed before the product is utilized or disposed of by the handler, the pounds of skim milk in such product that are to be considered under this part as used or disposed of by the handler shall be an amount equivalent to the nonfat milk solids contained in such product plus all of the water and nonfat solids originally associated with such solids determined on a protein equivalent basis.

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Dated: August 17, 2010.

Rayne Pegg,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 2010-20972 Filed 8-23-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P