[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 49 (Wednesday, March 13, 2002)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11211-11213]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-5938]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 49 / Wednesday, March 13, 2002 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 11211]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 905

[Docket No. FV01-905-3 FIR]


Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, and Tangelos Grown in Florida; 
Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final 
rule, without change, an interim final rule which decreased the 
assessment rate established for the Citrus Administrative Committee 
(Committee) for the 2001-02 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.0055 
to $0.005 per 4/5 bushel carton of Florida citrus handled. The 
Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the 
handling of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos grown in 
Florida. Authorization to assess Florida citrus handlers enables the 
Committee to incur expenses that are reasonable and necessary to 
administer the program. The fiscal period began on August 1 and ends 
July 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless 
modified, suspended, or terminated.

EFFECTIVE DATE: April 12, 2002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Pimental, Marketing 
Specialist, Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order 
Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 799 
Overlook Drive, Suite A, Winter Haven, FL 33884; telephone: (863) 324-
3375, Fax: (863) 325-8793; or George Kelhart, Technical Advisor, 
Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration 
Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; telephone: (202) 720-
2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or e-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 84 and Order No. 905, both as amended (7 CFR part 905), 
regulating the handling of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and 
tangelos grown in Florida, hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' 
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.''
    USDA is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 
12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, Florida citrus 
handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are 
derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate 
as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable Florida citrus 
beginning August 1, 2001, and continue until amended, suspended, or 
terminated. This rule will not preempt any State or local laws, 
regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable 
conflict with this rule.
    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 an order may file with USDA 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 law and 
request a modification of the 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.
    This rule continues to decrease the assessment rate established for 
the Committee for the 2001-02 and subsequent fiscal periods from 
$0.0055 to $0.005 per 4/5 bushel carton or equivalent of citrus 
handled.
    The Florida citrus marketing order provides authority for 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 of the Committee are producers and handlers of 
Florida citrus. They are familiar with the Committee's needs and with 
the costs for goods and services in their local area and are thus in a 
position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. The 
assessment rate is formulated and discussed in a public meeting. Thus, 
all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and 
provide input.
    For the 2000-01 and subsequent fiscal periods, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period unless modified, 
suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information 
submitted by the Committee or other information available to USDA.
    The Committee met on August 29, 2001, and unanimously recommended 
2001-02 expenditures of $280,000 and an assessment rate of $0.005 per 
4/5 bushel carton of Florida citrus. In comparison, last year's 
budgeted expenditures were $255,500. The assessment rate of $0.005 is 
$0.0005 lower than the rate previously in effect. Last fiscal year, 
Committee revenues exceeded expenses by $38,500. Committee members 
agreed that the excess revenues should be used to reduce the assessment 
rate. The $38,500 was added to the anticipated assessment revenue along 
with interest income for a revenue total of $280,000 for the 2001-02 
fiscal period.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2001-02 
fiscal period include $121,300 for salaries, $25,000 for Manifest USDA-
FDACS, $21,000 for insurance and bonds, $18,750 for retirement plan, 
$44,550 for miscellaneous and reserve, and $10,000 for telephone. Other 
expenses for 2001-02 total $39,400.

[[Page 11212]]

Budgeted expenses for these items in 2000-01 were $118,300, $36,000, 
$19,900, $18,500, $12,450, and $10,000 respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
dividing anticipated expenses by expected shipments of fresh Florida 
citrus. Florida citrus shipments for the year are estimated at 
48,000,000 cartons which should provide $240,000 in assessment income. 
Income derived from handler assessments, along with interest income and 
funds from the Committee's authorized reserve, will be adequate to 
cover budgeted expenses. Funds in the reserve (currently $90,334) will 
be kept within the maximum permitted by the order (one half of one 
fiscal period's expenses; Sec. 905.42).
    The assessment rate will 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 is effective for an indefinite 
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
fiscal period 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 will 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 2001-02 budget and those 
for subsequent fiscal periods will be reviewed and, as appropriate, 
approved by USDA.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the 
economic impact of this rule on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has 
prepared this final regulatory flexibility analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
business subject to such actions in order that small businesses will 
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued 
pursuant to the Act, and the rules issued thereunder, are unique in 
that they are brought about through group action of essentially small 
entities acting on their own behalf. Thus, both statutes have small 
entity orientation and compatibility.
    There are approximately 11,000 producers of Florida citrus in the 
production area and approximately 80 handlers subject to regulation 
under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by 
the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having 
annual receipts less than $750,000, and small agricultural service 
firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$5,000,000.
    Based on industry and Committee data, the average annual f.o.b. 
price for fresh Florida citrus during the 2000-01 season was 
approximately $7.92 per \4/5\ bushel carton for all shipments, and the 
total fresh shipments for the 2000-01 season are estimated at 53.8 
million 4/5 bushel cartons of Florida citrus. Approximately 68 percent 
of the handlers handled 93 percent of Florida citrus shipments. Using 
information provided by the Committee, about 60 percent of citrus 
handlers could be considered small businesses under the SBA definition. 
Although specific data is unavailable, USDA believes that the majority 
of Florida citrus producers may be classified as small entities.
    This rule continues to decrease the assessment rate established for 
the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2001-02 and 
subsequent fiscal periods from $0.0055 to $0.005 per 4/5 bushel carton 
of Florida citrus. The Committee unanimously recommended 2001-02 
expenditures of $280,000 and an assessment rate of $0.005 per 4/5 
bushel carton. The assessment rate of $0.005 is $0.0005 lower than the 
2000-01 rate. The quantity of assessable Florida citrus for the 2001-02 
fiscal period is estimated at 48 million 4/5 bushel cartons. Thus, the 
$0.005 rate should provide $240,000 in assessment income. Assessments, 
along with interest income and funds from the Committee's authorized 
reserve, will be adequate to cover this year's expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2001-
2002 fiscal period include $121,300 for salaries, $25,000 for Manifest 
Department-FDACS, $21,000 for insurance and bonds, $18,750 for 
retirement plan, $44,550 for miscellaneous and reserve, and $10,000 for 
telephone. Budgeted expenses for these items in 2000-01 were $118,300, 
$36,000, $19,900, $18,500, $12,450, and $10,000, respectively.
    Last fiscal year, Committee revenues exceeded expenses by $38,500. 
Committee members agreed that the excess revenues should be used to 
reduce the assessment rate. The $38,500 was added to the anticipated 
assessment revenue along with interest income for a revenue total of 
$280,000 for the 2001-02 fiscal period.
    The Committee reviewed and unanimously recommended 2001-02 
expenditures of $280,000, which includes increases in some 
administrative costs. Prior to arriving at this budget, the Committee 
considered information from various sources, such as the Committee's 
Budget Subcommittee, the Grapefruit Subcommittee, and the Regulatory 
Subcommittee. Alternative expenditure levels were discussed by these 
groups, based upon previous seasons and the general condition of the 
Florida citrus industry. The assessment rate of $0.005 per 4/5 bushel 
carton of assessable citrus was then determined by dividing the total 
recommended budget by the quantity of assessable citrus, estimated at 
48,000,000 4/5 bushel cartons for the 2001-02 fiscal period. This rate 
is expected to generate $240,000. This is $40,000 below the anticipated 
expenses, which the Committee determined to be acceptable.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information 
pertaining to the upcoming fiscal period indicates that the grower 
price for the 2001-02 season could range between $4.60 and $10.70 per 
4/5 bushel of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos. Therefore, 
the estimated assessment revenue for the 2001-02 fiscal period as a 
percentage of total grower revenue could range between .04 and .1 
percent.
    This action continues to 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. However, decreasing 
the assessment rate reduces the burden on handlers, and may reduce the 
burden on producers. In addition, the Committee's meeting was widely 
publicized throughout the Florida citrus industry and all interested 
persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the August 
29, 2001, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express views on this issue.
    This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large Florida citrus 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.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this rule.

[[Page 11213]]

    An interim final rule concerning this action was published in the 
Federal Register on November 9, 2001 (66 FR 56595). Copies of that rule 
were also mailed or sent via facsimile to all Florida citrus handlers. 
Finally, the interim final rule was made available through the Internet 
by the Office of the Federal Register and USDA. A 60-day comment period 
was provided for interested persons to respond to the interim final 
rule. The comment period ended on January 8, 2002, and no comments were 
received.
    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/fv/moab.html. Any questions about the compliance 
guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the information and recommendation submitted by the Committee and other 
available information, it is hereby found that this rule, as 
hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of 
the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 905

    Grapefruit, Oranges, Tangelos, Tangerines, Marketing agreements, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

PART 905--ORANGES, GRAPEFRUIT, TANGERINES, AND TANGELOS GROWN IN 
FLORIDA

    Accordingly, the interim final rule amending 7 CFR part 905 which 
was published at 66 FR 56595 on November 9, 2001, is adopted as a final 
rule without change.

    Dated: March 7, 2002.
A.J. Yates,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 02-5938 Filed 3-12-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P