The assessment rate for spearmint oil in the Far West has been lowered from 10 cents to 9 cents a pound.
Spearmint producers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Nevada and Utah are under a federal marketing order that regulates the production of spearmint oil.
An eight-person committee made up of seven growers and one member of the public that oversees the marketing order recently voted to lower the assessment rate, which had been unchanged for a decade.
The new rate will remain in effect in subsequent years unless the committee votes to change it again.
“It’s not a huge savings but at least it’s going down instead of up,” said Shane Johnson, who manages the Far West spearmint oil federal marketing order.
There are 91 producers of Native spearmint oil in the Far West and 39 producers of Scotch spearmint oil.
Idaho mint farmer Robert McKellip said the reduced assessment won’t result in a large savings for any single grower, but it’s nice to see a cost going down instead of up.
“Any time something goes down, it puts money in the grower’s pocket,” he said.
The assessment is collected by mint oil handlers in the Far West but growers will realize the savings because the assessment is deducted from their checks, Johnson said.
The committee estimates that 2.5 million pounds of spearmint oil will be assessed during the 2014-15 marketing year, which would provide $225,000 to support the order’s marketing and promotion programs.
The committee approved $266,400 in expenditures for the year and the difference will be taken from reserves.
According to a final rule published in the Federal Register, the reduced assessment allows the committee to “reduce its financial reserve while still providing adequate funding to meet program expenses.”
The committee also made a change designed to make it more economically feasible for farmers who don’t grow spearmint to do so.
Each spearmint farmer in the Far West has a base allotment that allows them to sell a certain amount of spearmint oil in a given year.
The committee holds annual drawings to give out three new allotments to sell Native spearmint oil and three to sell Scotch.
However, the new allotment amounts were too small for some growers to justify growing spearmint, so the committee this year opted to only give out two new allotments for Scotch and two for Native each year.
The allotment acreage and projected return were not big enough in some cases for farmers to justify the added cost of growing spearmint oil, McKellip said.
Giving out two new allotments each year instead of three will increase the acreage amounts for these new spearmint growers.
“They’re trying to make it so it’s more economically viable for the grower,” he said.