[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 205 (Wednesday, October 23, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 63128-63130]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-24899]


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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. 78, No. 205 / Wednesday, October 23, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 63128]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 993

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-13-0065; FV13-993-1 PR]


Dried Prunes Produced in California; Increased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This proposed rule would increase the assessment rate 
established for the Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 2013-
14 and subsequent crop years from $0.22 to $0.28 per ton of salable 
dried prunes handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing 
order, which regulates the handling of dried prunes grown in 
California. Assessments upon dried prune handlers are used by the 
Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The 
crop year begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate would 
remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated.

DATES: Comments must be received by November 7, 2013.

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, 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 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: Jerry L. Simmons, Marketing 
Specialist, or Martin Engeler, Regional Director, California Marketing 
Field Office, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 
487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906, or Email: Jerry.Simmons@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 proposed 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 grown 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 proposed rule 
in conformance with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.
    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing 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 as proposed would be applicable to all 
assessable dried prunes beginning on August 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 the 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 proposed rule would increase the assessment rate established 
for the Committee for the 2013-14 and subsequent crop years from $0.22 
to $0.28 per ton of salable dried prunes handled.
    The California dried prune 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 
California dried prunes. They are familiar with the Committee's needs 
and with the costs of goods and services in their local area. 
Therefore, they are 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 2011-12 and subsequent crop years, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from crop year to crop year 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 June 25, 2013, and unanimously recommended 
2013-14 expenditures of $43,791 and an assessment rate of $0.28 per ton 
of salable dried prunes. The assessment rate of $0.28 is $0.06 higher 
than the rate currently in effect, even though last year's budgeted 
expenditures of $44,968 were higher than those recommended for this 
year.
    The Committee unanimously recommended the higher assessment rate 
because the production estimate of 105,000 tons of salable dried prunes 
for the 2013-14 crop year is substantially lower than the 137,285 tons 
produced

[[Page 63129]]

during the 2012-13 crop year. Using the proposed assessment rate, 
assessment income for the 2013-14 crop year would be $29,400. 
Assessment income, combined with funds carried over from the prior crop 
year and interest income, is expected to be adequate to cover budgeted 
expenses for the year.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2013-14 
year include $26,944 for salaries, $9,538 for operating expenses, and 
$7,308 for contingencies. Budgeted expenses for these items in 2012-13 
were $22,997, $9,970, and $12,001, respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
considering the funds needed to meet anticipated expenses, the 
estimated salable tons of California dried prunes, excess funds carried 
forward into the 2013-14 crop year, and estimated interest income. As 
mentioned earlier, dried prune production for the year is estimated at 
105,000 salable tons, which should provide $29,400 in assessment 
income. Income derived from handler assessments, along with interest 
income and funds from the Committee's authorized reserve, would be 
adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    The proposed assessment rate 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 in effect for an indefinite 
period, the Committee would 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 and further rulemaking 
would be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's 2013-14 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, 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 of 
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 
less than $7,000,000 worth of dried prunes. Dividing the average prune 
crop value for 2012 reported by the National Agricultural Statistics 
Service (NASS) of $172,500,000 by the number of producers (800) yields 
an average annual producer revenue estimate of about $215,625. Based on 
the foregoing, the majority of handlers and producers of dried prunes 
may be classified as small entities.
    This proposal would increase the assessment rate established for 
the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2013-14 and 
subsequent crop years from $0.22 to $0.28 per ton of salable dried 
prunes. The Committee unanimously recommended 2013-14 expenditures of 
$43,791 and an assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of salable dried 
prunes. The proposed assessment rate of $0.28 is $0.06 higher than the 
2012-13 rate. The quantity of assessable dried prunes for the 2013-14 
crop year is estimated at 105,000 tons. Thus, the $0.28 rate should 
provide $29,400 in assessment income, and when combined with carry-in 
funds and interest income, should be adequate to meet this year's 
expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2013-14 
year include $26,944 for salaries, $9,538 for operating expenses, and 
$7,308 for contingencies. Budgeted expenses for these items in 2012-13 
were $22,997, $9,970, and $12,001, respectively.
    The Committee unanimously recommended the higher assessment rate 
because the production estimate of 105,000 tons of salable dried prunes 
for this year is substantially lower than the 137,285 tons produced 
last year. At the current assessment rate, the anticipated crop would 
not generate sufficient revenue to meet the 2013-14 budgeted expenses.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee 
considered information from various sources, including the Committee's 
Executive Subcommittee. The assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of salable 
dried prunes was recommended after considering various factors, 
including the amount of handler assessment revenue needed to meet 
anticipated expenses, the estimated quantity of salable tons of 
California dried prunes for the 2013-14 crop year, excess funds carried 
forward into the 2013-14 crop year, and estimated interest income. An 
alternative to this action would be to continue with the $0.22 per ton 
assessment rate. However, an assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of 
salable dried prunes, along with excess funds from the 2012-13 crop 
year, is needed to provide enough income to fund the Committee's 
operations.
    A review of historical crop and price information, as well as 
preliminary information pertaining to the 2013-14 season indicates that 
the producer price for salable dried prunes for the 2013-14 season 
could average about $1,300 per ton. Utilizing this estimate and the 
proposed assessment rate of $0.28, estimated assessment revenue as a 
percentage of total estimated producer revenue should be about 0.02 
percent for the 2013-14 season ($0.28 divided by $1,300 per ton).
    This action would increase the assessment obligation imposed on 
handlers. While assessments impose some additional costs on handlers, 
the costs are minimal and uniform on all handlers. Some of the 
additional costs may be passed on to producers. However, these costs 
would be offset by the benefits derived from the operation of the 
marketing order.
    In addition, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized 
throughout the California dried prune industry. All interested persons 
were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 25, 
2013, meeting was a public meeting. All entities, both large and small, 
were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested persons 
are invited to submit comments on this proposed 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.

[[Page 63130]]

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. 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 proposed rule would impose no 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 action.
    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/AMSv1.0/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.
    A 15-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to 
respond to this proposed rule. Fifteen days is deemed appropriate 
because: (1) The 2013-14 crop year began on August 1, 2013, and the 
marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each crop year 
apply to all assessable prunes to be handled during such crop year; (2) 
the Committee needs to have sufficient funds to pay its expenses, which 
are incurred on a continuous basis; and (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.

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.

0
2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  993.347  Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1, 2013, an assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of 
salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes.

    Dated: October 17, 2013.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-24899 Filed 10-22-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P