[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 40 (Friday, February 28, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11297-11300]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04603]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Parts 906 and 944

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-14-0009; FV14-906-1 IR]


Oranges and Grapefruit Grown in Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas 
and Imported Oranges; Change in Size Requirements for Oranges

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This rule relaxes the minimum size currently prescribed for 
oranges under the marketing order for oranges and grapefruit grown in 
Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas (order). The order is administered 
locally by the Texas Valley Citrus Committee (Committee). The 
corresponding change in the orange import regulation is required under 
section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. This 
rule relaxes the minimum size requirement for oranges from 2-6/16 
inches to 2-3/16 inches in diameter. This rule will provide additional 
oranges to meet market demand, helping to maximize fresh shipments.

DATES: Effective March 1, 2014; comments received by April 29, 2014 
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. All comments should reference the document number 
and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and 
will be made 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: Doris Jamieson, Marketing Specialist, 
or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Director, Southeast Marketing Field 
Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable 
Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324-3375, Fax: (863) 325-8793, or 
Email: Doris.Jamieson@ams.usda.gov or Christian.Nissen@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. 906, as amended (7 CFR Part 906), regulating 
the handling of oranges and grapefruit grown in the Lower Rio Grande 
Valley in Texas, hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' The order is 
effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act

[[Page 11298]]

of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the 
``Act.''
    This rule is also issued under section 8e of the Act, which 
provides that whenever certain specified commodities, including 
oranges, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of 
these commodities into the United States are prohibited unless they 
meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, or maturity 
requirements as those in effect for the domestically produced 
commodities.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13175, and 13563.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect.
    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. A 
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.
    There are no administrative procedures which must be exhausted 
prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of import regulations 
issued under section 8e of the Act.
    This rule relaxes the minimum size requirement for oranges 
prescribed under the order. This rule relaxes the minimum size 
requirement for oranges from 2-6/16 inches to 2-3/16 inches in 
diameter. This rule will provide additional oranges to meet market 
demand and will help maximize fresh shipments. This change was 
unanimously recommended by the Committee at a meeting on December 11, 
2013.
    Section 906.40 of the order provides, in part, authority to 
establish minimum size requirements for Texas citrus. Section 906.340 
of the rules and regulations includes Table I that specifies the 
numerical size designations and diameters used to delineate the 
available pack sizes for oranges. Section 906.365 specifies the minimum 
size requirement for fresh shipments of Texas oranges. Minimum grade 
and size requirements for oranges imported into the United States are 
currently in effect under Sec.  944.312.
    At its meeting, the Committee discussed the impact the recent 
freeze in California had on the orange crop and agreed the freeze had 
reduced the amount of fruit available for shipment to the fresh market. 
They also discussed the decline in citrus production in Florida caused 
by citrus greening and other diseases. The Committee believes this 
creates a shortage of fruit available to supply the fresh fruit market, 
which the Texas citrus growers and handlers should fill. The Committee 
noted that additional fruit was available from the Texas citrus 
industry. However, the fruit is smaller in size and would not meet the 
order's current size requirements. The Committee also recognized that 
consumers are now showing a preference for smaller-sized fruit. The 
Committee believes relaxing the requirements would make more fruit 
available to fill the market shortfall caused by the decline in 
production of oranges from other growing regions and provide smaller-
sized fruit to meet consumer demand.
    Consequently, to make more fruit available for shipment to the 
fresh market and to meet consumer demand, the Committee recommended a 
relaxation of the size requirements for oranges. This rule changes the 
minimum size requirement for oranges from 2-6/16 inches (size 138) to 
2-3/16 inches (size 163) in diameter. This rule also adds size 163 to 
the available pack sizes for oranges listed under Table I in Sec.  
906.340, as well as adding language concerning pack and sizing 
requirements as appropriate.
    The Committee believes relaxing the size requirement will make more 
fruit available to meet market demand, helping to maximize fresh 
shipments and increasing returns to growers and handlers.
    Section 8e of the Act provides that when certain domestically 
produced commodities, including oranges, are regulated under a Federal 
marketing order, imports of that commodity must meet the same or 
comparable grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements. Since this 
rule changes the minimum size requirement under the domestic handling 
regulations for oranges, a corresponding change to the import 
regulations must also be considered.
    Minimum grade and size requirements for oranges imported into the 
United States are currently in effect under Sec.  944.312. Section 
944.312(i) of the Fruit Import Regulations specifies that oranges 
imported into the United States are in most direct competition with 
oranges produced in the area covered by Marketing Order No. 906. This 
change relaxes the minimum size requirement for imported oranges from 
2-6/16 inches to 2-3/16 inches. The relaxation in the minimum size 
requirement also has a beneficial impact for importers of oranges. This 
change allows a smaller-sized orange to be shipped to the United 
States, thereby increasing the amount of fruit available for shipment 
to the fresh market, thus benefiting importers.

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 action 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. Import regulations issued under 
the Act are based on those established under Federal marketing orders.
    There are 13 registered handlers of Texas citrus who are subject to 
regulation under the marketing order and approximately 150 producers of 
oranges in the regulated area. There are approximately 220 importers of 
oranges. Small agricultural service firms, which include handlers and 
importers, are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as 
those having annual receipts of less than $7,000,000, and small 
agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts of 
less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service 
and the industry and Committee, the average f.o.b. price for Texas 
oranges during the 2012-13 season was $25.30 per box, and total fresh 
orange shipments were approximately 1.5 million boxes. Using the 
average f.o.b. price and shipment data, the majority of Texas orange 
handlers could be considered small businesses under SBA's definition. 
In addition, based on production data, grower prices, and the total 
number of Texas citrus growers, the average annual grower revenue is 
below $750,000. Information from the Foreign

[[Page 11299]]

Agricultural Service, USDA, indicates that the dollar value of imported 
fresh oranges ranged from approximately $71.2 million in 2008 to $107.4 
million in 2012. Using these values, most importers would have annual 
receipts of less than $7,000,000 for oranges. Thus, the majority of 
handlers, producers, and importers of oranges may be classified as 
small entities.
    Chile, South Africa, Mexico, and Australia are the major orange-
producing countries exporting oranges to the United States. In 2012, 
shipments of oranges imported into the United States totaled around 
119,000 metric tons. Of that amount, 51,510 metric tons were imported 
from Chile, 35,960 metric tons were imported from South Africa, 17,421 
metric tons were imported from Mexico, and 11,100 metric tons arrived 
from Australia.
    This rule relaxes the minimum size requirement for oranges covered 
under the order from 2-6/16 inches (size 138) to 2-3/16 inches (size 
163) and makes a corresponding change to the orange import regulation. 
This change is expected to make additional fruit available for shipment 
to the fresh market, maximize shipments, provide additional returns to 
handlers and growers, and respond to consumer demand for small-sized 
fruit. Authority for this change is provided in Sec.  906.40. This rule 
amends the provisions in Sec. Sec.  906.340, 906.365, and 944.312. The 
Committee unanimously recommended this change at its December 11, 2013, 
meeting. The change in the import regulation is required under section 
8e of the Act.
    This action is not expected to increase the costs associated with 
the order's requirements or the orange import regulation. Rather, it is 
anticipated that this action will have a beneficial impact. Reducing 
the size requirement will make additional fruit available for shipment 
to the fresh market. The Committee believes that this will provide 
additional fruit to fill the shortage caused by the reduced amount of 
fruit available from other growing regions and will provide the 
opportunity to fulfill growing consumer demand for smaller sized fruit. 
This action will also provide an outlet for fruit that may otherwise go 
unharvested, maximizing fresh shipments and increasing returns to 
handlers and growers. The benefits of this rule are expected to be 
equally available to all fresh orange growers, handlers, and importers, 
regardless of their size.
    An alternative to this action would be to maintain the current 
minimum requirements for domestic shipments of oranges. However, 
leaving the requirements unchanged would not make any additional fruit 
available nor would it provide smaller-sized fruit to meet consumer 
demand. Therefore, this alternative was rejected.
    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. 0581-0189, Generic Fruit Crops. 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 rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large 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.
    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.
    In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules 
that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule.
    Further, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout 
the Texas citrus industry and all interested persons were invited to 
attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like all 
Committee meetings, the December 11, 2013, meeting was a public meeting 
and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their 
views on this issue. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit 
comments on this interim rule, including the regulatory and 
informational impacts of this action on small businesses.
    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.
    This rule invites comments on changes to the size requirements for 
oranges currently prescribed under the marketing order for oranges and 
grapefruit grown in Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas and imported 
oranges. Any comments received will be considered prior to finalization 
of this rule.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the Committee's recommendation, and other information, it is found that 
this interim rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate 
the declared policy of the Act.
    In accordance with section 8e of the Act, the United States Trade 
Representative has concurred with the issuance of this interim rule.
    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 shipping season for oranges has already started; (2) 
this action relaxes current size requirements; (3) the Committee 
unanimously recommended this change at a public meeting and interested 
parties had an opportunity to provide input; and (4) this rule provides 
a 60-day comment period and any comments received will be considered 
prior to finalization of this rule.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 906

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

7 CFR Part 944

    Avocados, Food grades and standards, Grapefruit, Grapes, Imports, 
Kiwifruit, Limes, Olives, Oranges.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR Parts 906 and 944 
are amended as follows:

PART 906--ORANGES AND GRAPEFRUIT GROWN IN LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY 
IN TEXAS

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR Part 906 continues to read as 
follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  906.340, paragraph (a)(2)(i)(A) and Table I--Oranges are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  906.340  Container, pack, and container marking regulations.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) Oranges, when packed in any carton, bag, or other container, 
shall be sized in accordance with the sizes in the following Table I, 
and meet the

[[Page 11300]]

requirements of standard pack; and, when in containers not packed 
according to a definite pattern, shall be sized in accordance with the 
sizes in Table I and otherwise meet the requirements of standard 
sizing: Provided, That the packing tolerances in the U.S. Standards for 
Grades of Oranges (Texas and States other than Florida, California, and 
Arizona), shall apply to fruit so packed. All fruit packed to size 163 
in the following Table I shall be sized in accordance with the sizes in 
Table I but need not otherwise meet the requirements of standard sizing 
or standard pack: Provided, That they meet the same tolerances for off-
size and pack as defined in the U.S. Standards for Grades of Oranges 
(Texas and States other than Florida, California, and Arizona):

                            Table I--Oranges
                         [\7/10\ bushel carton]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Diameter in inches
         Rack size/ number of oranges          -------------------------
                                                  Minimum      Maximum
------------------------------------------------------------------------
24............................................     3\12/16\      5\1/16\
32............................................      3\6/16\      4\9/16\
36............................................      3\4/16\      4\6/16\
40............................................      3\2/16\      4\4/16\
48............................................     2\15/16\            4
56............................................     2\13/16\     3\13/16\
64............................................     2\11/16\     3\10/16\
72............................................      2\9/16\      3\8/16\
88............................................      2\8/16\      3\4/16\
113...........................................      2\7/16\            3
138...........................................      2\6/16\     2\12/16\
163...........................................      2\3/16\      2\8/16\
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *


0
3. In Sec.  906.365, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  906.365  Texas Orange and Grapefruit Regulation 34.

    (a) * * *
    (2) Such oranges are at least pack size 163 with a minimum diameter 
of 2-3/16 inches;
* * * * *

PART 944--FRUITS; IMPORT REGULATIONS

0
4. In Sec.  944.312 paragraph (a), remove the number ``2-6/16'' and add 
in its place ``2-3/16.''

    Dated: February 26, 2014.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-04603 Filed 2-27-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P