[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 71 (Thursday, April 12, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 21842-21843]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8820]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 993

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-11-0068; FV11-993-1 FIR]


Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Affirmation of interim rule as final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final 
rule, without change, an interim rule that decreased the assessment 
rate established for the Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 
2011-12 and subsequent crop years from $0.27 to $0.22 per ton of 
salable dried prunes handled. The Committee locally administers the 
marketing order for dried prunes produced in California. The interim 
rule was necessary to allow the Committee to lower its assessment rate 
because of a substantial decrease in wage and salary expenses. The 
current excess funds carried forward along with the estimated interest 
income, combined with the funds generated from the decreased assessment 
rate and decreased crop is expected to provide adequate income to cover 
anticipated 2011-12 expenses.

DATES: Effective Date: April 13, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea Ricci or Kurt J. Kimmel, 
California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement 
Division, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 
487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906, or Email: Andrea.Ricci@ams.usda.gov or 
Kurt.Kimmel@ams.usda.gov.
    Small businesses may obtain information on complying with this and 
other marketing order regulations by viewing a guide at the following 
Web site: http://www.ams.usda.gov/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide; or 
by contacting Laurel May, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, 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 Email: Laurel.May@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 110 and Order No. 993, both as amended (7 CFR part 993), 
regulating the handling of dried prunes in California, 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.''
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    Under the order, California dried prune handlers are subject to 
assessments, which provide funds to administer the order. Assessment 
rates issued under the order are intended to be applicable to all 
assessable California dried prunes for the entire crop year, and 
continue indefinitely until amended, suspended, or terminated. The 
Committee's crop year begins August 1, and ends on July 31.
    In an interim rule published in the Federal Register on August 30, 
2011, and effective on August 31, 2011 (76 FR 53813, Doc. No. AMS-FV-
11-0068; FV11-993-1 IR), Sec.  993.347 was

[[Page 21843]]

amended by decreasing the assessment rate established for the Committee 
for the 2011-12 and subsequent crop years from $0.27 to $0.22 per ton 
of salable dried prunes handled. The decrease in the per salable ton 
assessment rate allows the Committee to lower its assessment rate 
because of a substantial decrease in wage and salary expenses. The 
current excess funds carried forward along with the estimated interest 
income, combined with the funds generated from the decreased assessment 
rate and decreased crop to provide adequate income to cover anticipated 
2011-12 expenses.

Final 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 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.
    There are approximately 800 producers of dried prunes in the 
California area and approximately 21 handlers subject to regulation 
under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by 
the Small Business Administration as those having annual receipts less 
than $750,000 and small agricultural service firms are defined as those 
whose annual receipts are less than $7,000,000. (13 CFR 121.201)
    Committee data indicates that about 64 percent of the handlers ship 
under $7,000,000 worth of dried prunes. Dividing the average dried 
prune crop value for 2010 reported by the National Agricultural 
Statistics Service (NASS) of $149,860,000 by the number of producers 
(800) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of about 
$187,325. Thus, the majority of handlers and California dried prune 
producers may be classified as small entities.
    This rule continues in effect the action that decreased the 
assessment rate established for the Committee and collected from 
handlers for the 2011-12 and subsequent crop years from $0.27 to $0.22 
per ton of salable dried prunes. The Committee unanimously recommended 
2011-12 expenditures of $46,497 and an assessment rate of $0.22 per ton 
of salable dried prunes for the 2011-12 crop year. The assessment rate 
of $0.22 is $0.05 lower than the rate previously in effect. Applying 
the $0.22 per ton assessment rate to the Committee's 122,000 ton 
estimate should provide $26,840 in assessment income. Thus, the current 
excess funds carried forward along with the estimated interest income, 
combined with funds generated from the decreased assessment rate and 
decreased crop is expected to provide adequate income to cover 
anticipated 2011-12 crop year expenses.
    This rule continues in effect the action that decreased 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 California dried prune industry and all interested 
persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 16, 
2011, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express views on this issue.
    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 
assigned OMB No. 0581-0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. No changes 
in those requirements as a result of this action are anticipated. 
Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for 
approval.
    This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large California dried 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. In addition, USDA 
has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, 
or conflict with this rule.
    Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or 
before October 31, 2011. No comments were received. Therefore, for 
reasons given in the interim rule, we are adopting the interim rule as 
a final rule, without change.
    To view the interim rule, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=AMS-FV-11-0068-0001.
    This action also affirms information contained in the interim rule 
concerning the Executive Orders 12866 and 12988, the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), and the E-Gov Act (44 U.S.C. 
101).
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, it is found 
that finalizing the interim rule, without change, as published in the 
Federal Register (76 FR 53813, August 30, 2011) will tend to effectuate 
the declared policy of the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993

    Marketing agreements, Plums, Prunes, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

PART 993--DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA

0
Accordingly, the interim rule amending 7 CFR part 993, which was 
published at 76 FR 53813 on August 30, 2011, is adopted as a final 
rule, without change.

    Dated: April 6, 2012.
David R. Shipman,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-8820 Filed 4-11-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P