[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 77 (Thursday, April 21, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-9591]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: April 21, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Parts 911 and 915

[Docket No. FV93-911-1FIR]

 

Increase in Expenses and Assessment Rates for Marketing Orders 
Covering Limes and Avocados Grown in Florida

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (Department) is adopting as a 
final rule, with appropriate changes, the provisions of the interim 
final rule that authorized expenses and established assessment rates 
for the Florida Lime Administrative Committee and the Avocado 
Administrative Committee (Committees) under Marketing Order Nos. 911 
and 915 for the 1994-95 fiscal year. This final rule authorizes 
increased levels of expenses for the 1994-95 fiscal year. Authorization 
of these budgets enables the Committees to incur expenses that are 
reasonable and necessary to administer their respective programs. Funds 
to administer these programs are derived from assessments on handlers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Sections 911.232 and 915.232 are effective April 1, 
1994, through March 31, 1995.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Britthany E. Beadle, Marketing Order 
Administration Branch, F&V, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, room 2524-S, 
Washington, DC 20090-6456; telephone: (202) 720-5127; or Aleck Jonas, 
Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration 
Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Division, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 2276, Winter 
Haven, Florida 33883, telephone: (813) 299-4770.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This final rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement and Order No. 911 (7 CFR part 911), as amended, regulating 
the handling of limes grown in Florida; and Marketing Agreement and 
Order No. 915 (7 CFR part 915), as amended, regulating the handling of 
avocados grown in Florida. The marketing agreements and orders are 
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 is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive 
Order 12866.
    This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12778, 
Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order provisions now in 
effect, limes and avocados grown in Florida are subject to assessments. 
It is intended that the assessment rates specified herein will be 
applicable to all assessable limes and avocados handled during the 
1994-95 fiscal year, which began April 1, 1994, through March 31, 1995. 
This final rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, 
or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this 
rule.
    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 the Secretary 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 requesting 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 the Secretary 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 in equity to review 
the Secretary's ruling on the petition, provided a bill in equity is 
filed not later than 20 days after date of the entry of the ruling.
    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA), the Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service 
(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 
business subject to such actions in order that small businesses will 
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued 
pursuant to the Act, and rules issued thereunder, are unique in that 
they are brought about through group action of essentially small 
entities acting on their own behalf. Thus, both statutes have small 
entity orientation and compatibility.
    There are approximately 40 producers of limes grown in Florida, and 
45 handlers who are subject to regulation under the lime marketing 
order each season. Also, there are approximately 95 producers of 
avocados grown in south Florida, and approximately 65 handlers who are 
subject to regulation under the avocado marketing order. Small 
agricultural producers have been defined by the Small Business 
Administration (13 CFR 121.601) as those having annual receipts of less 
than $500,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as 
those whose annual receipts are less than $3,500,000. The majority of 
the lime and avocado producers and handlers may be classified as small 
entities.
    The marketing orders require that the assessment rates for a 
particular fiscal year shall apply to all assessable limes and avocados 
handled from the beginning of such year. An annual budget of expenses 
is prepared by each Committee and submitted to the Department for 
approval. The members of the Committees are producers and handlers of 
the regulated commodities. They are familiar with the Committees' needs 
and with the costs for goods, services, and personnel in their local 
area and are thus in a position to formulate appropriate budgets. The 
budgets are formulated and discussed in public meetings. Thus, all 
directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and 
provide input.
    The assessment rates recommended by the Committees are derived by 
dividing anticipated expenses by expected shipments of limes and 
avocados. Because these rates are applied to actual shipments, they 
must be established at rates which will produce sufficient income to 
pay the Committees' expected expenses. The recommended budgets and 
rates of assessment are usually acted upon by the Committees shortly 
before a season starts, and expenses are incurred on a continuous 
basis. Therefore, the budget and assessment rate approvals must be 
expedited so that the Committees will have funds to pay their expenses.
    The Florida Lime Administrative Committee met on December 8, 1993, 
and unanimously recommended 1994-95 marketing order expenditures of 
$89,697 and an assessment rate of $0.16 per 55-pound bushel of limes. 
In comparison, 1993-94 marketing year budgeted expenditures were 
$113,846, which is $24,149 more than the $89,697 recommended for this 
fiscal year. The assessment rate of $0.16 per bushel remains the same 
as last year's assessment rate of $0.16. The major budget categories 
for 1994-95 are $28,000 for administrative staff salaries and $10,100 
for employee benefits.
    Assessment income for 1994-95 is estimated to total $64,000 based 
on anticipated fresh domestic shipments of 400,000 55-pound bushels of 
limes. Interest on savings is expected to add an additional $2,000 to 
income. The assessment and interest income will have to be augmented by 
$23,697 from the Committee's reserves to provide adequate funds to 
cover budgeted expenses. Sufficient reserve funds are available to 
cover the projected deficit. Funds in the reserve at the end of the 
1994-95 fiscal year are estimated to be $250,000. These reserve funds 
will be within the maximum permitted by the order of three fiscal 
years' expenses.
    The Avocado Administrative Committee also met on December 8, 1993, 
and unanimously recommended 1994-95 marketing order expenditures of 
$97,000 and an assessment rate of $0.16 per 55-pound bushel of 
avocados. In comparison, 1993-94 marketing year budgeted expenditures 
were $113,846, which is $16,846 more than the $97,000 recommended for 
this fiscal year. The assessment rate of $0.16 per bushel remains the 
same as last year's assessment rate of $0.16. The major budget 
categories for 1994-95 are $28,000 for administrative staff salaries, 
$15,600 for compliance, and $10,100 for employee benefits.
    Assessment income for 1994-95 is estimated to total $96,000 based 
on anticipated fresh domestic shipments of 600,000 55-pound bushels of 
avocados. Interest on savings is expected to add an additional $1,000 
to income. Sufficient reserve funds are available to cover any 
unexpected shortfall in projected income. Funds in the reserve at the 
end of the 1994-95 fiscal year are estimated to be $100,000. These 
reserve funds will be within the maximum permitted by the order of 
three fiscal years' expenses.
    The expenses and assessment rates were authorized by an interim 
final rule issued on January 25, 1994, and published in the Federal 
Register (59 FR 5073, February 3, 1994). A 30-day comment period was 
provided for interested persons. No comments were received.
    Each Committee met again on March 9, 1994, and unanimously 
recommended to increase expenses from $89,697 to $92,197, and from 
$97,000 to $99,500, for limes and avocados respectively, an increase of 
$2,500 in expenses for each Committee from the previously authorized 
amounts.
    Neither Committee recommended an increase in their respective 
assessment rates despite projected deficits of $25,697 and $2,500, for 
limes and avocados respectively, that will be incurred. Sufficient 
reserve funds are available, $277,179 and $131,312, for limes and 
avocados respectively, to cover the increased expenses.
    Each Committee budgeted an additional $2,500 for a total of $7,500 
for increased monitoring of the water table levels in South Florida. 
The Committees deem the increase in expenses necessary for the research 
because of the high cost incurred in obtaining information by an 
industry that is still recovering from Hurricane Andrew.
    While the interim final rule imposed some additional costs on 
handlers, the costs were in the form of uniform assessments on all 
handlers. Some of the additional costs may be passed on to producers. 
However, these costs will be offset by the benefits derived from the 
operation of the marketing orders. Therefore, the Administrator of the 
AMS has determined that finalizing the interim final rule will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    It is found that the specified expenses for the marketing orders 
covered in this rule are reasonable and likely to be incurred and that 
such expenses and the specified assessment rates to cover such expenses 
will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act.
    It is further found that good cause exists for not postponing the 
effective date of this action until 30 days after publication in the 
Federal Register (5 U.S.C. 553) because the Committees need to have 
sufficient funds to pay their expenses which are incurred on a 
continuous basis. The 1994-95 fiscal year for the programs began on 
April 1, 1994. The marketing orders require that the rates of 
assessment for the fiscal year apply to all assessable limes and 
avocados handled during the fiscal year. In addition, handlers are 
aware of this action which was recommended by the Committees at public 
meetings and published in the Federal Register as an interim final 
rule. No comments were received concerning the interim final rule that 
is adopted in this action, with appropriate changes, as a final rule.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 911

    Limes, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

7 CFR Part 915

    Avocados, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR parts 911 and 915 
are hereby amended as follows:

PART 911--LIMES GROWN IN FLORIDA

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR parts 911 and 915 continues to 
read as follows:

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

    2. Section 911.232 is revised to read as follows:

    Note: This section will not appear in the annual Code of Federal 
Regulations.


Sec. 911.232  Expenses and assessment rate.

    Expenses of $92,197 by the Florida Lime Administrative Committee 
are authorized and an assessment rate of $0.16 per bushel on assessable 
limes are established for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1995. 
Unexpended funds may be carried over as a reserve.

PART 915--AVOCADOS GROWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA

    3. Section 915.232 is revised to read as follows:

    Note: This section will not appear in the annual Code of Federal 
Regulations.


Sec. 915.232  Expenses and assessment rate.

    Expenses of $99,500 are authorized and an assessment rate of $0.16 
per bushel on assessable avocados is established for the fiscal year 
ending March 31, 1995. Unexpended funds may be carried over as a 
reserve.

    Dated: April 15, 1994.
Robert C. Keeney,
Deputy Director, Fruit and Vegetable Division.
[FR Doc. 94-9591 Filed 4-20-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P