[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 189 (Monday, September 30, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 59775-59779]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-23695]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 189 / Monday, September 30, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 59775]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 1218

[Document Number AMS-FV-12-0062]


Blueberry Promotion, Research and Information Order; Assessment 
Rate Increase

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule amends the Blueberry Promotion, Research and 
Information Order (Order) to increase the assessment rate from $12 to 
$18 per ton (an increase of $0.003 per pound). The Order is 
administered by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) with 
oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under the 
program, assessments are collected from domestic producers and 
importers and used for research and promotion projects designed to 
maintain and expand the market for highbush blueberries in the United 
States and abroad. Additional funds will allow the USHBC to expand its 
health research activities and promotional efforts. The USHBC uses its 
health information in its promotion messaging to help build demand for 
blueberries. Increasing demand will help move the growing supply of 
blueberries, which will benefit producers and consumers.

DATES: Effective Date: January 1, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maureen T. Pello, Marketing 
Specialist, Research and Promotion Division, Fruit and Vegetable 
Program, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 831, Beavercreek, Oregon, 97004; 
telephone: (503) 632-8848; facsimile (503) 632-8852; or electronic 
mail: Maureen.Pello@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under the Order (7 CFR 
part 1218). The Order is authorized under the Commodity Promotion, 
Research, and Information Act of 1996 (1996 Act) (7 U.S.C. 7411-7425).

Executive Order 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has waived the review 
process required by Executive Order 12866 for this action.

Executive Order 13175

    This action has been reviewed in accordance with the requirements 
of Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian 
Tribal Governments. The review reveals that this regulation will not 
have substantial and direct effects on Tribal governments and will not 
have significant Tribal implications.

Executive Order 12988

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. Section 
524 of the 1996 Act (7 U.S.C. 7423) provides that it shall not affect 
or preempt any other Federal or State law authorizing promotion or 
research relating to an agricultural commodity.
    Under section 519 of the 1996 Act (7 U.S.C. 7418), a person subject 
to an order may file a written petition with USDA stating that an 
order, any provision of an order, or any obligation imposed in 
connection with an order, is not established in accordance with the 
law, and request a modification of an order or an exemption from an 
order. Any petition filed challenging an order, any provision of an 
order, or any obligation imposed in connection with an order, shall be 
filed within two years after the effective date of an order, provision, 
or obligation subject to challenge in the petition. The petitioner will 
have the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. Thereafter, USDA 
will issue a ruling on the petition. The 1996 Act provides that the 
district court of the United States for any district in which the 
petitioner resides or conducts business shall have the jurisdiction to 
review a final ruling on the petition, if the petitioner files a 
complaint for that purpose not later than 20 days after the date of the 
entry of USDA's final ruling.

Background

    This rule amends the Order to increase the assessment rate from $12 
to $18 per ton (an increase of $0.003 per pound). The Order is 
administered by the USHBC with oversight by USDA. Under the program, 
assessments are collected from domestic producers and importers and 
used for research and promotion projects designed to maintain and 
expand the market for highbush blueberries in the United States and 
abroad. Additional funds will enable the USHBC to expand its health 
research activities and promotional efforts. The USHBC uses its health 
information in its promotion messaging to help build demand for 
blueberries. Increasing demand will help move the growing supply of 
blueberries, which will benefit producers and consumers. This action 
was unanimously recommended by the USHBC.
    The Order specifies that the funds to cover the USHBC's expenses 
shall be paid from assessments on producers and importers, donations 
from persons not subject to assessments and from other funds available 
to the USHBC. First handlers are responsible for collecting and 
submitting reports and producer assessments to the USHBC. Handlers must 
also maintain records necessary to verify their reports. Importers are 
responsible for paying assessments to the USHBC on highbush blueberries 
imported into the United States through U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection (Customs). The Order also provides for two exemptions. 
Producers and importers who produce or import less than 2,000 pounds of 
blueberries annually, and producers and importers of 100 percent 
organic blueberries are exempt from the payment of assessments.
    Section 1218.52(c) of the Order specifies that assessments shall be 
levied at a rate of $12 per ton on all highbush blueberries. The 
assessment rate may be modified with the approval of the Secretary.
    The $12 per ton assessment rate has been in effect since the 
Order's inception in 2000. The USHBC's fiscal year runs from January 1 
through December 31. USHBC expenditures have ranged from $1,522,519 in 
2004 to $3,931,296 in 2012. Expenditures for health and nutrition 
research have ranged from $113,880 in 2004 (7.5 percent of total 
expenses) to $668,059 in 2011/2012 (17.0 percent of total expenses).
    USHBC expenditures for health messaging and promotion activities

[[Page 59776]]

have ranged from $920,020 in 2004 (60.4 percent of total expenses) to 
$2,820,817 in 2012 (71.8 percent of total expenses). Pursuant to 
section 1218.50(i) of the Order, administrative expenditures have been 
under 15 percent of total expenses annually.
    USHBC assessment income has ranged from $1,435,989 in 2004 
($1,080,230 in domestic assessments and $355,759 in import assessments) 
to $4,051,836 in 2012 ($2,434,646 in domestic assessments and 
$1,601,966 in import assessments). Additionally, pursuant to section 
1218.50(j) of the Order, the USHBC maintains a monetary reserve with 
funds that do not exceed one fiscal period's budget.

USHBC 2012 Recommendation

    The USHBC met on October 5, 2012, and unanimously recommended 
increasing its assessment rate from $12 to $18 per ton ($0.006 to 
$0.009 per pound). This equates to an increase of $6 per ton, or $0.003 
per pound. Additional funds would enable the USHBC to expand its health 
research activities and promotional efforts. Since the program's 
inception, the USHBC has funded several health and nutrition research 
projects, many of them laboratory studies. USHBC research has shown 
possibilities relating to various health issues, including 
cardiovascular health and cancer. However, most of these preliminary 
findings have been done under laboratory conditions. Additional funds 
will allow the USHBC to incorporate specific areas of research into 
expanded clinical (human) trials. Clinical trials are important for the 
industry to be able to make health claims according to the Federal 
Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
requirements for the advertising of food.
    The USHBC uses its health information in its promotion messaging to 
help build demand for blueberries. Increasing demand will help move the 
growing supply of blueberries. Worldwide highbush blueberry production 
has grown from 393 million pounds in 2005 to 753 million pounds in 
2010. Production is expected to increase to 1 billion pounds in 2013 
and to nearly 1.4 billion pounds by 2015.\1\ World highbush blueberry 
acreage grew from approximately 50,000 acres in 1995 to over 190,000 
acres in 2010.\2\ North American highbush blueberry acreage increased 
by over 55 percent from 71,075 acres in 2005 to 110,290 acres in 
2010.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Brazelton, C., World Blueberry Acreage & Production, 2011, 
Brazelton Ag Consulting, p. 49.
    \2\ Brazelton, World Blueberry Acreage & Production, p. 43.
    \3\ Brazelton, World Blueberry Acreage & Production, p. 42.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With highbush blueberry production expected to increase more than 
38 percent by 2015, the USHBC hopes to increase consumption among 
existing blueberry consumers and to attract new blueberry users. Per 
capita consumption of blueberries increased from 15.7 ounces in 2000 to 
31.4 ounces in 2009.\4\ According to the North American Blueberry 
Council, U.S. per capita consumption is now estimated at 36.2 ounces. 
In order to maintain a balance between supply and demand, a 38 percent 
increase in per capita consumption would equate to a level of 50 ounces 
per person by 2015.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Kaiser, Henry M., An Economic Analysis of Domestic Market 
Impacts of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, 2010, Cornell 
University, p. 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the $18 per ton assessment rate and assessable tonnage ranging 
from 350,000 to 500,000 tons (700 million to 1 billion pounds), 
assessment income could range from $6.3 million to $9 million annually. 
As an example, if 15 percent of the budget was allocated to health and 
nutrition research and 60 percent were allocated to promotion, funds 
available for health and nutrition research could range from $945,000 
to $1.35 million annually and funds available for health messaging and 
promotion could range from $3.78 million to $5.4 million annually.
    In light of the need to allocate more funds towards health research 
activities and continue to build demand for blueberries, the USHBC 
recommended increasing the assessment rate under the Order from $12 to 
$18 per ton (or by $0.003 per pound). Section 1218.52(c) of the Order 
is amended accordingly. Changes are also made to section 1218.52(d)(2) 
to update the listed Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States 
(HTSUS) numbers; this change is administrative in nature and has no 
impact on the assessment rate.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 
601-612), AMS is required to examine the impact of this rule on small 
entities. Accordingly, AMS has considered the economic impact of this 
action on small entities.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
businesses subject to such actions so that small businesses will not be 
disproportionately burdened. The Small Business Administration defines, 
in 13 CFR Part 121, small agricultural producers as those having annual 
receipts of no more than $750,000 and small agricultural service firms 
(first handlers and importers) as those having annual receipts of no 
more than $7.0 million.
    There are approximately 2,000 domestic producers, 78 first handlers 
and 194 importers of highbush blueberries covered under the program. 
Dividing the highbush blueberry crop value for 2012 reported by the 
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of $781,808,000 \5\ by 
the number of producers (2,000) yields an average annual producer 
revenue estimate of $390,904. It is estimated that in 2012, about 68 
percent of the first handlers shipped under $7 million worth of 
highbush blueberries. Based on 2012 Customs data, it is estimated that 
90 percent of the importers shipped under $7 million worth of highbush 
blueberries. Based on the foregoing, the majority of producers, first 
handlers and importers may be classified as small entities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2012 Summary, January 2013, USDA, 
National Agricultural Statistics Service, p. 10.
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    Regarding value of the commodity, as mentioned above, based on 2012 
NASS data, the value of the domestic highbush blueberry crop was about 
$782 million. According to Customs data, the value of 2012 imports was 
about $515 million.
    This rule amends section 1218.52(c) of the Order to increase the 
assessment rate from $12 to $18 per ton (an increase of $0.003 per 
pound). The Order is administered by the USHBC with oversight by USDA. 
Under the program, assessments are collected from domestic producers 
and importers and used for research and promotion projects designed to 
maintain and expand the market for highbush blueberries in the United 
States and abroad. Additional funds will enable the USHBC to expand its 
health research activities and promotional efforts. The USHBC uses its 
health information in its promotion messaging to help build demand. 
Increasing demand will help move the growing supply of blueberries, 
which will benefit producers and consumers. This rule also updates the 
HTSUS numbers listed in section 1218.52(d)(2). Authority for this 
action is provided in section 1218.52(c) of the Order and section 517 
of the 1996 Act.
    Regarding the economic impact of this rule on affected entities, 
this action increases the assessment obligation on domestic producers 
and importers. While assessments impose additional costs on producers 
and importers, the costs are minimal and uniform on all.

[[Page 59777]]

The costs are also offset by the benefits derived from the operation of 
the program. It is estimated that 1,857 producers and 173 importers pay 
assessments under the program.
    There have been two economic studies conducted since the Order's 
inception that evaluated the effectiveness of the USHBC's promotion 
program. The studies were conducted by Dr. Harry M. Kaiser at Cornell 
University in 2005 and 2010 and are both titled ``An Economic Analysis 
of Domestic Market Implications of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry 
Council.'' These studies may be obtained from Maureen Pello at the 
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section. The 2005 study evaluated the program from 2001-2004 and the 
2010 study evaluated the program from 2001-2009. The purpose of the 
research was twofold: (1) To determine the domestic market implications 
of the USHBC's promotion program and (2) to complete a benefit-cost 
ratio (rate of return) for the promotion activities conducted by the 
USHBC. The impact of the USHBC's export marketing activities was not 
evaluated because most of the USHBC's marketing budget has been 
invested in the United States (about 90 percent).
    To assess the impact of the USHBC's domestic promotion activities 
on blueberry sales (a measure of demand), an econometric demand model 
was developed for blueberry sales in the United States. The model 
allowed the impact of the USHBC's generic promotion activities to be 
estimated while taking into account the impact of other factors that 
influence demand. These other factors include the price of blueberries, 
the price of blueberry substitutes, population, and consumer taste and 
preferences.\6\ The research shows that the USHBC's promotion 
activities increased total blueberry sales by 441 million pounds in 
total, or 49 million pounds per year from 2001 through 2009. This 
represents an annual increase in blueberry sales of 12.3 percent. Thus, 
the promotional spending by the USHBC has a positive effect on domestic 
highbush blueberry demand.
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    \6\ The econometric model used statistical methods with time 
series data to measure how strongly the various blueberry demand 
factors are correlated with sales in the United States.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The results also indicate that generic blueberry promotion by the 
USHBC has had a positive impact on the blueberry producers' price. 
Specifically, from 2001 to 2009, the average increase in price ranged 
from 14 cents per pound in the case of the least elastic supply 
response to 5 cents per pound in the case of the most elastic supply 
response.\7\ The average impact over all supply responses was 8.4 cents 
per pound. In other words, had there been no generic blueberry 
promotion by the USHBC, the average producers' price would have been 
8.4 cents per pound, or 7.2 percent lower than it was from 2001 through 
2009.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ Price elasticity of supply is a measure used in economics to 
show the responsiveness, or elasticity, of the quantity supplied/
produced of a good or service to a change in price. When the 
coefficient is less than one, the supply can be described as 
inelastic. When the coefficient is greater than one, the supply can 
be described as elastic.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The studies also show that USHBC promotion efforts have had a 
positive impact on producer surplus (i.e., producer profits) from 2001 
through 2009. The average increase in producer surplus due to generic 
blueberry promotion by the USHBC ranged from $5.4 million per year, in 
the case of the least elastic supply response, to $1.9 million per 
year, in the case of the most elastic supply response. The average 
increase in producer surplus over all supply responses was $3.2 million 
per year. Thus, the studies concluded that the domestic promotion 
efforts of the USHBC have had a positive impact on producer profits 
since 2001.
    An average benefit-cost ratio (BCR) for the USHBC's generic 
promotion activities was also computed. The BCR measures the net 
benefits of the program, which is equal to the gain in producer surplus 
divided by the cost of the marketing program. The BCR exceeded 1.0 for 
every supply response considered in Dr. Kaiser's study.\8\ For the 
least elastic supply response, the average BCR was 15.41. This implies 
that, on average from 2001-2009, the benefits of the USHBC promotion 
program has been over 15 times greater than the costs. At the opposite 
end of the spectrum in the supply response, the average BCR was 
computed to be 5.36, implying that the benefits of the USHBC were over 
five times greater than the costs. Given the wide range of supply 
responses considered in the analysis, and the fact that the BCR was 
above 1.0 in all cases, there is significant evidence that the USHBC's 
promotion programs have been profitable for the domestic blueberry 
industry. The average BCR over all supply responses was 9.12 (i.e., the 
benefits of the promotion activities of the USHBC exceeded the costs by 
nine-fold).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Kaiser, An Economic Analysis, 2010, p. 24.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To calculate the percentage of producer revenue represented by the 
assessment rate, the $18 per ton ($0.009 per pound) assessment rate is 
divided by the average producer price. According to the NASS, the 
average producer price ranged from $1.85 per pound in 2011 ($2.14 per 
pound for fresh and $1.28 per pound for processed) to $1.69 per pound 
in 2012 ($2.19 per pound for fresh and $0.923 per pound for 
processed).\9\ Thus, the assessment rate as a percentage of producer 
price could range from 0.486 to 0.532 percent (or from 0.420 to 0.411 
percent for fresh and from 0.703 to 0.975 percent for processed).
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    \9\ Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts, p. 35.
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    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35), the information collection and recordkeeping requirements 
that are imposed by the Order have been approved previously under OMB 
control number 0581-0093. This rule does not change the information 
collection and recordkeeping requirements previously approved and 
imposes no additional reporting and recordkeeping burden on blueberry 
producers, first handlers and importers.
    As with all Federal promotion programs, reports and forms are 
periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and 
duplication by industry and public sector agencies. Finally, USDA has 
not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with this rule.
    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.
    Regarding alternatives, the USHBC has been considering an increase 
in the assessment rate for the past few years. The USHBC reviewed rates 
ranging from maintaining the status quo at $12 per ton to doubling the 
rate to $24 per ton. In 2009, the USHBC recommended increasing the rate 
to $24 per ton. Two members opposed the increase because a rate of $18 
per ton had been discussed at previous meetings and communicated to 
producers. USDA published a proposed rule for public comment in July 
2009 (74 FR 36955; July 27, 2009) and ultimately withdrew the proposed 
rule in February 2010 based on the comments received (75 FR 7985; 
February 23, 2010).
    Since that time, the USHBC and its committees have continued to 
discuss the need to increase the assessment rate. USHBC representatives 
have met with various producer associations and discussed this issue 
with their members

[[Page 59778]]

as well as with importers. Ultimately the USHBC unanimously recommended 
increasing the rate to $18 per ton at its October 2012 meeting.
    A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal 
Register on May 20, 2013 (78 FR 29258). USDA mailed copies of the rule 
to all known highbush blueberry producers and importers of record. The 
USHBC included notifications about the proposed rule in its newsletters 
and also mailed related information to producers and importers. 
Finally, the proposal was made available through the Internet by USDA 
and the Office of the Federal Register. A 60-day comment period ending 
July 19, 2013, was provided to allow interested persons to submit 
comments.

Analysis of Comments

    One hundred and sixty eight comments were received in response to 
the proposed rule; 137 supported the increase (119 were a form letter), 
29 were opposed and 2 commented without taking a position on the 
action. The comments are addressed in the following paragraphs.

Comments in Support

    The 137 comments which supported increasing the assessment rate 
stated that additional funds would allow the USHBC to expand its 
promotion and health research efforts at a time when supplies are 
dramatically increasing. According to the commenters, North American 
highbush blueberry acreage has increased from 71,075 acres in 2005 to 
about 123,635 acres in 2012, a 74 percent increase in seven years. 
Newly planted acres and enhancement of existing acres has led to 
successive records in North American highbush blueberry production, 
which was about 589 million pounds in 2012, a 93 percent increase over 
the estimated 305 million pounds produced in 2005. Production could 
reach 735 million pounds by 2015. The commenters stated that, with the 
increase in supply, there is a need to significantly increase domestic 
per capita consumption from its current level of about 36 ounces per 
person to a projected 50 ounces per person, a 38 percent increase.
    The commenters stated that additional funds would allow the USHBC 
to expand its health research efforts and move to more extensive human 
clinical trials. Funds would also allow for continued education about 
blueberries and to elevate awareness and maintain consumer confidence. 
One commenter supported doubling the assessment rate.

Comments Opposed

    Twenty-nine comments received were opposed to increasing the 
assessment rate. Eleven commenters argued that increasing the 
assessment rate is not needed because the increase in blueberry supply 
will automatically bring additional funds to the USHBC to support its 
activities. USDA concurs that the current assessment rate of $12 per 
ton on the level of production over the next few years will increase 
USHBC income. At the $12 per ton rate and assessable tonnage ranging 
from 350,000 to 500,000 tons (700 million to 1 billion pounds), 
assessment income would range from $4.2 million to $6 million annually. 
While higher assessable volumes compute to more USHBC income, 
maintaining the $12 per assessment rate will not generate the amount of 
money necessary to fund expensive human clinical trials and conduct 
promotion activities needed to continue to build demand to move the 
growing supply of blueberries.
    Three commenters argued that a better use of assessment funds would 
be to study challenges like the spotted wing drosophila (SWD) and other 
industry problems. While the majority of USHBC funds are used for 
health research and promotion, the USHBC does invest in other areas. 
For example, the USHBC's Good Practices Committee is tasked with 
educating growers and handlers about best practices regarding food 
production and is reviewing issues like the SWD. In an effort to 
explore cost savings measures for the industry, the USHBC recently 
funded a research project related to the mechanical harvesting of 
blueberries. Thus, the USHBC does address other issues, provided they 
are within the scope of the Order's authority.
    Four commenters argued that an assessment rate increase would hurt 
small growers. One commenter recommended that the rate be increased 
only for large growers, as an example, the top 10 percent by acreage or 
something similar. Section 1218.53(a) of the Order in fact provides 
that small growers who produce less than 2,000 pounds of blueberries 
annually are exempt from the payment of assessments. USDA reviewed data 
for the top 10 percent of growers by acreage and concluded that not 
enough assessment income would be generated for the USHBC to fund 
expanded human clinical trials and conduct promotion activities needed 
to build demand and move the growing supply of blueberries. While the 
increased assessment rate will impose an additional cost on growers, it 
is estimated to be less than 1 percent of the producer price.
    Additionally, the two economic studies by Dr. Kaiser cited earlier 
in this rule have indicated that generic blueberry promotion by the 
USHBC has had a positive impact on producer prices. Specifically, had 
there been no generic blueberry promotion by the USHBC, the average 
producers' price would have been 8.4 cents per pound, or 7.2 percent 
lower than it was from 2001 through 2009.
    One commenter expressed concern that the USHBC spends most of its 
promotion funds on the prepared foods industry, baking, catering, 
restaurant services where blueberry alternatives are accepted practices 
due to a lack of demand and education of the consumer. The USHBC 
allocates funds to several promotion areas. In 2013, the USHBC budgeted 
$2.505 million for market promotion and publicity. Of that $2.505 
million, $1.67 million (or almost 67 percent) is for consumer/food 
service publicity, $400,000 is for food manufacturing publicity, and 
$325,000 is for export market promotion. Thus, a significant portion of 
the USHBC's program targets consumers.
    Two commenters expressed concern that the USHBC does not actively 
promote U.S. grown blueberries but rather blueberries in general. Some 
commenters also argued that U.S. growers are unfairly assessed for the 
promotion of poor quality imports. Under the Order, U.S. growers as 
well as importers of highbush blueberries must pay assessments. Over 
one-third of the USHBC's assessments are derived from imports. Thus, 
with both U.S. growers and importers paying into the program, promotion 
campaigns must be designed to benefit all blueberries.
    One commenter argued that the USHBC is a bureaucracy that should be 
cut and that it gouges the U.S. tax payer and growers. Another 
commenter also expressed concern about costs associated with USHBC 
meetings. Research and promotion programs overseen by USDA are self-
help programs funded by their respective industries and do not receive 
taxpayer funds. While the increased assessment rate will impose an 
additional cost on growers, it is estimated to be less than 1 percent 
of the producer price.
    Regarding USHBC meetings, the USHBC holds two meetings per year, 
one in a blueberry producing area which allows industry members across 
the country to attend the meeting and the second whenever possible near 
an airport hub to limit travel costs. Travel costs are considered 
administrative and section 1218.50(i) of the Order limits

[[Page 59779]]

administrative costs to 15 percent of a fiscal year's available income. 
In 2012, the USHBC's administrative costs were 7.46 percent of 
available income, much lower than the Order's threshold.
    No changes have been made to the proposed rule based on these 
opposing comments.

Other Comments

    Two comments were received that did not take a position on the 
proposed assessment rate increase. One commenter stated that she 
supports promoting blueberries. Another commenter asked about the 
amount of funds used for administration versus promotion, hoping that 
at least 75 percent of the funds are used for promotion, research and 
information projects. As previously mentioned, section 1218.50(i) 
limits the funds that the USHBC can spend for administration to 15 
percent of available income for the year. In 2012, the USHBC's 
administrative costs were 7.46 percent of available income, much lower 
than the Order's threshold. USHBC 2012 actual program expenses were 
almost 80 percent of its total expenditures.
    After consideration of all relevant matters presented, including 
the information and recommendation submitted by the USHBC and other 
available information, it is hereby found that this rule, as 
hereinafter set forth, is consistent with and would effectuate the 
purposes of the 1996 Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1218

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Consumer 
information, Marketing agreements, Blueberry promotion, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, Part 1218, Chapter XI of 
Title 7 is amended as follows:

PART 1218--BLUEBERRY PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION ORDER

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1218 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; 7 U.S.C. 7401.


0
2. In Sec.  1218.52, paragraph (c) and the first sentence of paragraph 
(d)(2) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1218.52  Assessments.

* * * * *
    (c) Such assessments shall be levied at a rate of $18 per ton (or 
$0.01984 per kg) on all blueberries. The assessment rate will be 
reviewed, and may be modified with the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) * * *
    (2) The import assessment shall be uniformly applied to imported 
fresh and frozen blueberries that are identified by the numbers 
0810.40.0029 and 0811.90.2028, respectively, in the Harmonized Tariff 
Schedule of the United States or any other numbers used to identify 
fresh and frozen blueberries. * * *
* * * * *

    Dated: September 24, 2013.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-23695 Filed 9-27-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P