WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing hourly fee rate increases for its Science and Technology Program’s laboratory services. U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing to change the hourly fee rates for standard, appeal, overtime and holiday services to reflect the anticipated yearly costs of providing laboratory services for fiscal years 2010-2012.

Specifically, the proposed hourly fee rate will increase to $78 per hour in fiscal year 2010, $81 per hour in fiscal 2011 and $83 per hour in fiscal 2012. The new hourly rates would provide agricultural commodity industries and other stakeholders the convenience of having more timely and relevant information regarding voluntary user fees for laboratory testing services, according to the agency.

The Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 requires reasonable fees be collected in order to maintain the program. The proposed rule will be published in the Oct. 26 Federal Register. Comments must be received on or before Nov. 25. Comments may be submitted to James Falk, Staff Scientist, Science and Technology Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, Room 1090-South, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250, or via e-mail at: james.falk@amsusda.gov.