[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 50 (Friday, March 14, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14367-14369]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-05557]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 50 / Friday, March 14, 2014 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 14367]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 932

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-14-0002; FV14-932-1 IR]


Olives Grown in 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 Olive Committee (Committee) for the 2014 and subsequent 
fiscal years from $21.16 to $15.21 per ton of assessable olives 
handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order, which 
regulates the handling of olives grown in California. Assessments upon 
olive handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and 
necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal year began January 1 and 
ends December 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect 
indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.

DATES: Effective March 15, 2014; comments received by May 13, 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. 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 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, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, 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 rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 148 and Order No. 932, both as amended (7 CFR part 932), 
regulating the handling of olives 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 rule in 
conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13175, and 13563.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California 
olive 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 
olives beginning on January 1, 2014, 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 
the entry of the ruling.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee for the 2014 and subsequent fiscal years from $21.16 to 
$15.21 per ton of assessable olives.
    The California olive 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 olives. They are familiar with the Committee's needs and 
with the costs for 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.
    For the 2013 and subsequent fiscal years, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate of $21.16 per ton of 
assessable olives that would continue in effect from fiscal year to 
fiscal 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 December 9, 2013, and unanimously recommended 
2014 fiscal year expenditures of $1,262,460 and an assessment rate of 
$15.21 per ton of assessable olives. In comparison, last year's 
budgeted expenditures were $1,289,198. The assessment rate of $15.21 is 
$5.95 lower than the rate currently in effect. The Committee 
recommended the lower assessment rate because the 2013-14 assessable 
olive receipts as reported by

[[Page 14368]]

the California Agricultural Statistics Service (CASS) are 79,495 tons, 
compared to 90,790 tons in 2012-13. Olives are an alternate-bearing 
crop, where crop size alternates between small and large crops, 
resulting in a higher 2012-13 volume crop and a lower 2013-14 volume 
crop. The lower assessment rate is possible due to a decrease in the 
overall budget and utilization of part of the reserve.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2014 
fiscal year include $346,500 for General Administration; $565,600 for 
Marketing Programs; $37,800 for Inspection Equipment Development; and 
$312,560 for Research Programs. Budgeted expenses for these items in 
2013 were $333,800, $637,380, $105,000, and $213,018, respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee is based upon the 
actual revenue necessary to meet anticipated 2014 fiscal year expenses, 
given the actual olive tonnage received by handlers during the 2013-14 
crop year, and taking into consideration the potential tonnage diverted 
by handlers into exempt uses. Actual assessable tonnage for the 2014 
fiscal year is expected to be lower than the 2013-14 crop receipts of 
79,495 tons reported by CASS because some olives may be diverted by 
handlers to uses that are exempt from marketing order requirements. 
Income derived from handler assessments and carryover reserve will be 
adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Funds in the reserve will be kept 
within the maximum amount of one fiscal year's expenses permitted by 
the order.
    The assessment rate established in this rule will continue in 
effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA 
based upon a recommendation and information submitted by the Committee 
or upon other available information.
    Although this assessment rate is effective for an indefinite 
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
fiscal 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 2014 budget and those for 
subsequent fiscal 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 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.
    There are approximately 1,000 producers of California olives in the 
production area and two handlers subject to regulation under the 
marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small 
Business Administration (SBA) 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)
    Based upon information from the industry and CASS, the average 
grower price for 2013 was approximately $1,057.56 per ton of assessable 
olives and total grower deliveries were 79,495 tons. Based on 
production, producer prices, and the total number of California olive 
producers, the average annual producer revenue is less than $750,000. 
Thus, the majority of olive producers may be classified as small 
entities. Neither of the handlers may be classified as small entities.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee and collected from handlers for the 2014 and subsequent 
fiscal years from $21.16 to $15.21 per ton of assessable olives, a 
decrease of $5.95. The Committee unanimously recommended 2014 
expenditures of $1,262,460. The quantity of assessable California 
olives for the 2013-14 season is 79,495 tons. However, the quantity of 
olives actually assessed is expected to be slightly lower because some 
of the tonnage may be diverted by handlers to exempt outlets on which 
assessments are not paid. Income derived from the assessment rate of 
$15.21 combined with carryover reserve should provide an assessment 
income adequate to meet this year's expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2014 
year includes $346,500 for General Administration; $565,600 for 
Marketing Programs; $37,800 for Inspection Equipment Development; and 
$312,560 for Research Programs. Budgeted expenses for these items in 
2013 were $333,800, $637,380, $105,000, and $213,018, respectively.
    The decrease in the assessment rate is possible due to a decrease 
in the overall budget and utilization of part of the reserve. Funds in 
the reserve will be kept within the maximum amount of one fiscal year's 
expenses permitted by the order.
    The Committee reviewed and unanimously recommended 2014 fiscal year 
expenditures of $1,262,460, which included decreases in Marketing 
Programs and Inspection Equipment Development, and an increase in 
Research Programs and General Administration.
    Prior to arriving at this budget, the Committee considered 
information from various sources, such as the Executive Subcommittee, 
Marketing Subcommittee, Inspection Subcommittee, and the Research 
Subcommittee. Alternative expenditure levels were discussed by these 
groups based upon the relative value of various projects to the olive 
industry. The assessment rate of $15.21 per ton of assessable olives 
was derived by considering anticipated expenses, the volume of 
assessable olives, potentially exempt olives, and other pertinent 
factors.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information 
indicates that the grower price for the 2013 fiscal year was 
approximately $1,150.17 per ton for canning fruit, and $384.56 per ton 
for limited-use sizes. Approximately 87.9 percent of the olive crop 
were canning fruit sizes and 12.1 percent were limited use sizes. 
Grower revenue on 79,495 total tons of canning and limited-use sizes 
would be $84,070,570, given the current grower prices for those sizes. 
Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2014 fiscal year, 
as a percentage of total grower revenue, is expected to be 
approximately 1.4 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 olive industry and all interested 
persons

[[Page 14369]]

were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the December 
9, 2013, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express 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.
    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, Generic Vegetable 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 action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large California olive 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 2014 fiscal year began on January 1, 2014, 
and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each 
fiscal year apply to all assessable olives handled during such fiscal 
year; (2) this action decreases the assessment rate for assessable 
olives beginning with the 2014 fiscal year; (3) handlers are aware of 
this action which was unanimously recommended by the Committee at a 
public meeting; 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 932

    Marketing agreements, Olives, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 932 is 
amended as follows:

PART 932--OLIVES GROWN IN CALIFORNIA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 932 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
2. Section 932.230 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  932.230  Assessment rate.

    On and after January 1, 2014, an assessment rate of $15.21 per ton 
is established for California olives.

    Dated: February 18, 2014.
Rex A. Barnes,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-05557 Filed 3-13-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P