Jun 3, 2022
Proposed rule for revised U.S. pecan standards open for public comment

The Proposed Rule to revise the U.S. Standards for Grades of Pecans in the Shell and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Pecans has been published on June 1, 2022, for public comment through August 1, 2022.

The 60-day comment period is provided for interested persons to submit comments on the proposed revised Grade Standards. Individuals can submit written comments to the USDA, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, 100 Riverside Parkway, Suite 101, Fredericksburg, VA 22406; via fax to (540) 361–1199; or, at https://www.regulations.gov. Comments should reference the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. Comments will be posted without change, including any personal information provided. All comments received within the comment period will become part of the public record maintained by the Agency and will be made available to the public via https://www.regulations.gov.

Copies of the proposed U.S. Standards for Grades for Pecans in the Shell and U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Pecans are available at https://www.regulations.gov. Copies of the current Standards are available at https://www.ams.usda.gov/nuts.

On June 12, 2020, the American Pecan Council (APC) unanimously voted and petitioned Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to revise the U.S. Standards for Grades of Pecans in the Shell and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Pecans (standards or grade standards). The effort to update the standards was initiated by the National Pecan Shellers Association (NPSA) to be carried out through the U.S. pecan industry’s Federal Marketing Order, APC.

The purpose of the update to the standards was to modernize language and ensure effectiveness within the industry. APC noted that the pecan standards have not been substantially updated since 1969, the year they were issued, and the terminology of the standards no longer reflects current industry descriptions and practices.

AMS amended the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Pecans and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Pecans in the Shell in December 2018. The revisions included replacing the term “midget” with “extra small” in the Shelled Pecan standards and removing references to plastic models of pecan kernels and information on where the color standards may be examined from both standards. Apart from this adjustment, there have been no updates since the original publishing of the standards in 1969. Over the last two years, the APC Grades & Standards committee has been working with the USDA to ensure the standards aligned with USDA guidelines. The standards remain voluntary.

The proposed changes to the standards would replace current grades with new ones, revise scoring guides for defects, create new sizes and revise definitions. AMS proposes to revise the U.S. Standards for Grades of Pecans in the Shell and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Pecans by replacing the current grades with U.S. Extra Fancy, U.S. Fancy, U.S. Choice, and U.S. Standard grades. The two current grades for pecans in the shell are U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2. The six current grades for shelled pecans are U.S. No. 1 Halves, U.S. No. 1 Halves and Pieces, U.S. No. 1 Pieces, U.S. Commercial Halves, U.S. Commercial Halves and Pieces, and U.S. Commercial Pieces. These proposed changes represent current industry descriptions and practices.

The proposed revisions do not affect Marketing Order 986 or applicable imports since there are no grade, size or quality standards currently applied under the marketing order.

Click here to view the proposed rule.

For further information, contact:
Olivia Banks by phone at (540) 361–1120; fax (540) 361–1199; or email Olivia.Banks@usda.gov.

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