[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 170 (Tuesday, September 3, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54147-54149]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21309]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 54147]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 987

[Docket No. AMS-FV-13-0053; FV13- 987-1 IR]


Domestic Dates Produced or Packed in Riverside County, 
California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
California Date Administrative Committee (Committee) for the 2013-14 
and subsequent crop years from $0.90 to $0.40 per hundredweight of 
dates handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order, 
which regulates the handling of dates grown or packed in Riverside 
County, California. Assessments upon date handlers are used by the 
Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The 
crop year begins October 1 and ends September 30. The assessment rate 
will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated.

DATES: Effective October 1, 2013. Comments received by November 4, 
2013, will be considered prior to issuance of a final rule.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this rule. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable 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 docket 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 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 comments will be made public on the internet at the 
address provided above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Terry Vawter, Senior Marketing 
Specialist, or Martin Engeler, Regional Director, California Marketing 
Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and 
Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901, Fax: (559) 
487-5906, or Email: Terry.Vawter@ams.usda.gov or 
Martin.Engeler@ams.usda.gov.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement 
Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence 
Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-
2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: Jeffrey.Smutny@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement and Order No. 987, both as amended (7 CFR Part 987), 
regulating the handling of dates produced or packed in Riverside 
County, 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.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, Riverside 
County, California, date 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 dates beginning October 1, 2013, 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 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 
entry of the ruling.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee for the 2013-14 and subsequent crop years from $0.90 to $0.40 
per hundredweight of dates.
    The California date 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 
Riverside County, California, dates. They are familiar with the 
Committee's needs and with the costs of 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.
    The Committee met on June 20, 2013, and unanimously recommended 
2013-14 expenditures of $97,700, and an assessment rate of $0.40 per 
hundredweight of Riverside County, California, dates. In comparison, 
last year's budgeted expenditures were $260,000. The assessment rate of 
$0.40 is $0.50 lower than the rate currently in effect.
    The Committee recommended a lower assessment rate because of a 
significant decrease in its budgeted expenses. The industry will shift 
its marketing programs from the Committee to the California Date 
Commission, a California State marketing program, beginning October 1, 
2013. Thus, the assessment revenue needed under the

[[Page 54148]]

order for the 2013-14 crop year has decreased. Income generated from 
the lower assessment rate, combined with cull surplus contributions, 
and carry-in funds from the 2012-13 crop year should be sufficient to 
cover anticipated 2013-14 expenses.
    Proceeds from sales of cull dates are deposited into a surplus 
account for subsequent use by the Committee in covering the surplus 
pool share of the Committee's expenses. Handlers may also dispose of 
cull dates of their own production within their own livestock-feeding 
operation; otherwise, such cull dates must be shipped or delivered to 
the Committee for sale to non-human food product outlets. Pursuant to 
Sec.  987.72(b), the Committee is authorized to temporarily use funds 
derived from assessments to defray expenses incurred in disposing of 
surplus dates. All such expenses are required to be deducted from 
proceeds obtained by the Committee from the disposal of surplus dates. 
For the 2013-14 crop year, the Committee estimates that $3,000 from the 
surplus account would be needed to temporarily defray expenses incurred 
in disposing of surplus dates.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2013-14 
crop year include: $58,200 for general and administrative expenses, 
$20,000 for nutrition and food quality programs, and $19,500 for 
contingency funds. Budgeted expenses for the 2012-13 crop year 
included: $110,000 for generic marketing promotions, $83,520 for 
general and administrative expenses, $43,800 for nutrition marketing 
programs, and $12,680 for contingency funds.
    The assessment rate of $0.40 per hundredweight of dates handled was 
recommended by the Committee after considering several factors: The 
anticipated size of the 2013-14 crop, the Committee's estimates of the 
incoming reserve, other income, and anticipated expenses. Date 
shipments for the year are estimated at 26,500,000 pounds (265,000 
hundredweight) which should provide $106,000 in assessment income. 
Income derived from handler assessments, along with a $3,000 
reimbursement for the cost of disposing of surplus culls, should be 
adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    Section 987.72(d) of the order states that the Committee may 
maintain a monetary reserve not to exceed 50 percent of the average of 
expenses incurred during the most recent 5 preceding crop years, except 
that an established reserve need not be reduced to conform to any 
recomputed average. The Committee expects to carry a $25,000 reserve 
into the 2013-14 crop year. It expects to add $11,300 to the reserve 
during the year, for a carryout of approximately $36,300, which is 
below the limit specified in the order.
    The assessment rate established in this rule 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 
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 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 2013-14 budget and those for subsequent crop years will 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 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, 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 70 producers of dates in the production 
area and 11 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. 
The Small Business Administration defines small agricultural producers 
as those having annual receipts less than $750,000, and small 
agricultural service firms as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$7,000,000. (13 CFR 121.201)
    According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 
data for the most recently completed crop year (2011) shows that about 
4.04 tons, or 8,080 pounds, of dates were produced per acre. The 2012 
grower price published by NASS was $1,340 per ton, or $0.67 per pound. 
Thus, the value of date production per acre in 2011-12 averaged about 
$5,414 (8,080 pounds times $0.67 per pound). At that average price, a 
producer would have to farm over 138 acres to receive an annual income 
from dates of $750,000 ($750,000 divided by $5,414 per acre equals 
138.53 acres). According to Committee staff, the majority of California 
date producers farm less than 138 acres. Thus, it can be concluded that 
the majority of date producers could be considered small entities. In 
addition, according to data from the Committee staff, the majority of 
handlers of California dates have receipts of less than $7,000,000 and 
may also be considered small entities.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee and collected from handlers for the 2013-14 and subsequent 
crop years from $0.90 to $0.40 per hundredweight of dates handled. The 
Committee unanimously recommended 2013-14 expenditures of $97,700 and 
an assessment rate of $0.40 per hundredweight of dates, which is $0.50 
lower than the 2012-13 rate currently in effect. The quantity of 
assessable dates for the 2013-14 crop year is estimated at 26,500,000 
pounds (265,000 hundredweight). Thus, the $0.40 rate should provide 
$106,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler's 
assessments, along with the $3,000 contribution from the surplus 
program, should be adequate to meet the 2013-14 crop year expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2013-14 
crop year include: $58,200 for general and administrative expenses, 
$20,000 for nutrition and food quality programs, and $19,500 for 
contingency funds. Budgeted expenses in the 2012-13 crop year include: 
$110,000 for generic marketing promotions, $83,520 for general and 
administrative expenses, $43,800 for nutrition marketing programs, and 
$12,680 for contingency funds.
    The Committee recommended a lower assessment rate because the 
industry plans to shift its marketing programs to the State marketing 
program, the California Date Commission, beginning October 1, 2013. 
Thus, less assessment revenue is needed to fund Committee operations.
    Section 987.72(d) of the order states that the Committee may 
maintain a monetary reserve not to exceed 50 percent of the average of 
expenses incurred during the most recent 5 preceding crop years, except 
that an established reserve need not be reduced

[[Page 54149]]

to conform to any recomputed average. The Committee expects to carry a 
$25,000 reserve into the 2013-14 crop year. It expects to add $11,300 
to the reserve during the year, for a desired carryout of approximately 
$36,300, which is below the limit specified in the order.
    The Committee reviewed and unanimously recommended 2013-14 crop 
year expenditures of $97,700. Prior to arriving at this budget, the 
Committee considered information from various sources, such as the 
Committee's Marketing Subcommittee and Budget Committee. Alternative 
expenditure levels and assessment rates were discussed by these groups, 
based upon the relative value of various projects to the date industry. 
The assessment rate of $0.40 per hundredweight of dates was then 
recommended after consideration of several factors, including the 
anticipated 2013-14 crop size, the Committee's estimates of the 
incoming reserve funds and other income, and their anticipated 
expenses.
    A review of historical and preliminary information pertaining to 
the upcoming crop year indicates that the grower price for the 2013-14 
crop year could range between $45.00 and $55.00 per hundredweight of 
dates. Utilizing these estimates and the assessment rate of $0.40 per 
hundredweight, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2013-14 crop 
year as a percentage of total grower revenue could range between 0.7 
and 0.9 percent.
    This action decreases 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 date industry, and all interested 
persons were invited to attend the meeting and encouraged to 
participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all 
Committee meetings, the June 20, 2013, meeting was a public meeting and 
all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this 
issue. Industry members also discussed the various possible assessment 
rates, potential crop size, and estimated expenses at the Budget 
Committee meeting on June 6, 2013. Finally, interested persons are 
invited to submit comments on this interim rule, including the 
regulatory and informational 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 
assigned OMB No. 0581-0178, ``Vegetable and Specialty Crop Marketing 
Orders.'' No changes in those requirements as a result of this action 
are necessary. 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 Riverside County, California date 
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/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny 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.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it is also found and determined upon good 
cause that it is impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public 
interest to give preliminary notice prior to putting this rule into 
effect, and that good cause exists for not postponing the effective 
date of this rule until 30 days after publication in the Federal 
Register because: (1) The 2013-14 crop year begins on October 1, 2013, 
and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each 
crop year apply to all assessable dates handled during such crop year; 
(2) the action decreases the assessment rate for assessable dates 
beginning with the 2013-14 crop year; (3) handlers are aware of this 
action which was unanimously recommended by the Committee at a public 
meeting and is similar to other assessment rate actions issued in past 
years; and (4) this interim rule provides a 60-day comment period, and 
all comments timely received will be considered prior to finalization 
of this rule.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 987

    Dates, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 987 is 
amended as follows:

PART 987--DATES PRODUCED OR PACKED IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 987 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 601-674.

0
2. Section 987.339 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  987.339  Assessment rate.

    On and after October 1, 2013, an assessment rate of $0.40 per 
hundredweight is established for Riverside County, California, dates.

    Dated: August 27, 2013.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-21309 Filed 8-30-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P