Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 185 (Tuesday, September 24, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 185 (Tuesday, September 24, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49963-49965]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-20572]
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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________
This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.
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Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 185 / Tuesday, September 24, 2019 /
Proposed Rules
[[Page 49963]]
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Marketing Service
7 CFR Part 993
[Doc. No. AMS-SC-19-0056; SC19-993-1 PR]
Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate
AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
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SUMMARY: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the
Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) to decrease the assessment rate
established for the 2019-20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to
$0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes. The assessment rate would remain
in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.
DATES: Comments must be received by October 24, 2019.
ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments
concerning this proposed rule. Comments must be sent to the Docket
Clerk, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program,
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or internet: http://www.regulations.gov. Comments should reference the document number and
the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will
be available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk
during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this
proposed rule will be included in the record and will be made available
to the public. Please be advised that the identity of the individuals
or entities submitting the comments will be made public on the internet
at the address provided above.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Stobbe, Marketing Specialist, or
Terry Vawter, Regional Director, California Marketing Field Office,
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS,
USDA; Telephone: (559) 538-1674, Fax: (559) 487-5906, or Email:
[email protected] or [email protected].
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this
regulation by contacting Richard Lower, Marketing Order and Agreement
Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue
SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491,
Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: [email protected].
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553,
proposes to amend regulations issued to carry out a marketing order as
defined in 7 CFR 900.2(j). This proposed rule is issued under Marketing
Agreement and Order No. 993, as amended (7 CFR part 993), regulating
the handling of dried prunes produced in California. Part 993 (referred
to as 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 Committee locally administers the Order
and is comprised of producers and handlers of dried prunes operating
within the production area, and a public member.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this proposed rule
in conformance with Executive Orders 13563 and 13175. This action falls
within a category of regulatory actions that the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) exempted from Executive Order 12866 review.
Additionally, because this proposal does not meet the definition of a
significant regulatory action, it does not trigger the requirements
contained in Executive Order 13771. See OMB's Memorandum titled
``Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order of
January 30, 2017, titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling
Regulatory Costs' '' (February 2, 2017).
    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988,
Civil Justice Reform. Under the Order now in effect, California dried
prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the
Order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the
assessment rate will be applicable to all assessable dried prunes
beginning on August 1, 2019, and continue until amended, suspended, or
terminated.
    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 a marketing order may file with USDA a
petition stating that the marketing order, any provision of the
marketing order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the
marketing order is not in accordance with law and request a
modification of the marketing order or to be exempted therefrom. Such
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 Order authorizes the Committee, with the approval of USDA, to
formulate an annual budget of expenses and collect assessments from
handlers to administer the program. The members are familiar with the
costs of goods and services in their local area and can formulate an
appropriate budget and assessment rate. The Committee formulates and
discusses the assessment rate in a public meeting where all directly
affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input.
    This proposed rule would decrease the assessment rate for the 2019-
20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to $0.25 per ton of salable
dried prunes handled for the 2019-20 and subsequent crop years.
    The Order's assessment rate of $0.28 had been in effect since the
2013-14 crop year. The Committee met on June 20, 2019, and unanimously
recommended 2019-20 crop year expenditures of $24,500 and an assessment
rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes. In comparison, last
year's budgeted expenditures were $20,470. The assessment rate of $0.25
is $0.03 lower than the rate currently in effect. The Committee
recommended decreasing the assessment rate to reflect an anticipated
larger crop, which is expected to result in assessment
[[Page 49964]]
revenue greater than anticipated expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-20
year include $13,300 for personnel, and $11,200 for operating expenses.
In comparison, budgeted expenses for these items in 2018-19 were
$10,490, and $9,980, respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by
considering anticipated expenses and expected shipments of 110,000 tons
of salable dried prunes. Income derived from proposed reduced handler
assessment estimated to be $27,500 (110,000 x $0.25), along with
interest income, would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of
$24,500.
    The assessment rate proposed in this rule would continue in effect
indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon
recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other
available information.
    Although this assessment rate would be effective for an indefinite
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each
crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and
times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA.
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may
express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate Committee
recommendations and other available information to determine whether
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will
be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's 2019-20 crop year budget
and those for subsequent crop years would be reviewed and, as
appropriate, approved by USDA.
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility
Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
has considered the economic impact of this proposed rule 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
businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued
pursuant to the Act are unique in that they are brought about through
group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf.
    There are approximately 800 producers of dried prunes in the
production area and 20 handlers subject to regulation under the Order.
Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business
Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts less than
$750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those
whose annual receipts are less than $7,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to Committee data, the average price for California dried
prunes during the 2017-18 season was approximately $1,980 per ton with
a total production of 105,000 tons. Using the average price and
shipment information, the number of handlers (20), and assuming a
normal distribution, the majority of handlers would have average annual
receipts of greater than $7,500,000. Thus, the majority of California
dried prune handlers may be classified as large business entities.
    In addition, and assuming a normal distribution, dividing the
average prune crop value for 2017 reported by the National Agricultural
Statistics Service (NASS) of $206,084,000, by the number of producers
(800) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of about
$257,605. Based on the foregoing, the majority of producers of
California dried prunes may be classified as small entities.
    This proposed rule would decrease the assessment rate collected
from handlers for the 2019-20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to
$0.25 per ton of salable California dried prunes. The Committee
unanimously recommended 2019-20 expenditures of $24,500 and an
assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled. The
proposed assessment rate of $0.25 is $0.03 lower than the rate
currently in effect. The quantity of assessable dried prunes for the
2019-20 crop year is estimated at 110,000 tons. Thus, the proposed
$0.25 rate should provide $27,500 in assessment income (110,000 x
$0.25). Income derived from handler assessments, along with interest
income, would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-20
crop year include $13,300 for personnel, and $11,200 for operating
expenses. In comparison, budgeted expenses for these items in 2018-19
were $10,490, and $9,980, respectively.
    The Committee recommended decreasing the assessment rate, given
that the increase in crop size and the associated revenue would be
sufficient to fund its proposed 2019-20 crop year expenses.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee
considered information from various sources, such as the Committee's
Executive Committee and NASS. Alternative expenditure levels were
discussed by the Executive Committee, which reviewed the relative value
of various activities to the prune industry. This committee determined
that all program activities were adequately funded; thus, no alternate
expenditure levels were deemed appropriate. Additionally, maintaining
the current assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of salable dried prunes
was discussed. However, sufficient funds would be generated at the
larger crop size ($27,500), even if assessed at the lower assessment
rate proposed. The proposed rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried
prunes may exceed anticipated expenses by $3,000, thereby providing
contingency funds for unexpected expenses.
    Based on these discussions and estimated shipments, the recommended
assessment rate of $0.25 would provide $27,500 in assessment income.
The Committee determined that assessment revenue and interest income
would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses for the 2019-20 crop year.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information
pertaining to the upcoming crop year indicate that the average grower
price for the 2019-20 crop year should be approximately $2,000 per ton
of salable dried prunes. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue
for the 2019-20 crop year as a percentage of total grower revenue would
be about 0.01 percent.
    This proposed rule would decrease the assessment obligation imposed
on handlers. Assessments are applied uniformly on all handlers, and
some of the costs may be passed on to producers. Decreasing the
assessment rate reduces the burden on handlers and may also reduce the
burden on producers.
    The Committee widely publicizes its meetings throughout the
California prune industry. The Committee's June 20, 2019, meeting was
open to the public, and all entities, both large and small, were able
to express views on all issues. Finally, interested persons are invited
to submit comments on this proposed rule, including the regulatory and
information collection impacts of this action on small businesses.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C.
Chapter 35), the Order's information collection requirements have been
previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and
[[Page 49965]]
assigned OMB No. 0581-0178 Vegetable and Specialty Crops. No changes in
those requirements are necessary as a result of this action. Should any
changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval.
    This proposed rule would not impose any additional reporting or
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large California prune
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 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.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate,
overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    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/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions
about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
section.
    A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to
respond to this proposal. All written comments timely received will be
considered before a final determination is made on this rule.
List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993
    Marketing agreements, Plum, Prunes, Reporting and recordkeeping
requirements.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is
proposed to be amended as follows:
PART 993--DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA
0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as
follows:
    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601-674.
Sec.  993.347   [Amended]
0
2. Amend Sec.  993.347 to read as follows:
Sec.  993.347  Assessment rate.
    On and after August 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of
salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes.
    Dated: September 18, 2019.
Bruce Summers,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-20572 Filed 9-23-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-02-P