[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 119 (Wednesday, June 19, 1996)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 31006-31007]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-15629]



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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
7 CFR Part 946

[FV96-946-1FR]


Irish Potatoes Grown in Washington; Modification of the Minimum 
Size Requirements

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule reduces the minimum diameter requirement from 
2-1/8 inches to 2 inches for Russet type varieties of Washington 
potatoes shipped during the July 15 through August 31 period each 
season. Potato varieties currently being grown for shipment during this 
period are similar in shape to those grown for marketing during the 
balance of the season. Reducing the minimum diameter recognizes this 
similarity and enables handlers to market a larger portion of the crop 
in fresh outlets. This change should improve the marketing of 
Washington potatoes and increase returns to producers as well as 
provide consumers with increased supplies of potatoes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 15, 1996.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dennis L. West, Northwest Marketing 
Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and 
Vegetable Division, AMS, USDA, 1220 SW Third Avenue, room 369, 
Portland, Oregon 97204-2807; telephone: (503) 326-2724 or FAX (503) 
326-7440; or Robert F. Matthews, Marketing Order Administration Branch, 
Fruit and Vegetable Division, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, room 2523-S, 
Washington, D.C. 20090-6456; telephone: (202) 690-0464 or FAX (202) 
720-5698.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This final rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 113 and Marketing Order No. 946 (7 CFR part 946), both as 
amended, regulating the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Washington, 
hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' The order is authorized by 
the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended, (7 U.S.C. 
601-674), hereinafter referred to as the ``Act.'' The State of 
Washington Potato Committee (Committee) is the agency responsible for 
local administration of the marketing order program in the designated 
production area.
    The Department of Agriculture (Department) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12778, 
Civil Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive 
effect. 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 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 the Secretary will 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 the Secretary's 
ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not

[[Page 31007]]

later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling.
    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA), 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 handlers of Washington potatoes that are 
subject to regulation under the order and approximately 450 producers 
in the regulated production area. Small agricultural service firms, 
which include handlers of Washington potatoes, have been defined by the 
Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.601) as those whose annual 
receipts are less than $5,000,000, and small agricultural producers are 
defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $500,000. The 
majority of potato handlers and producers regulated under the marketing 
agreement and order may be classified as small entities.
    This final rule reduces the minimum diameter requirement from 2\1/
8\ inches to 2 inches for Russet type varieties of Washington potatoes 
shipped during the July 15 through August 31 period each season. This 
change will enable handlers to market a larger portion of the crop in 
fresh market outlets. This action is expected to improve the marketing 
of Washington potatoes and increase returns to producers. Therefore, 
the AMS has determined that this action will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    Section 946.52 (7 CFR 946.52) authorizes the issuance of 
regulations for grade, size, quality, maturity, and pack for any 
variety or varieties of potatoes grown in different portions of the 
production area during any period.
    Size regulations are currently in effect under section 946.336 in 
terms of minimum diameter and minimum weight. All Russet types must be 
2\1/8\ inches minimum diameter or 4 ounces minimum weight during the 
period July 15 through August 31 each season, and 2 inches or 4 ounces 
during the remainder of the season. This rule amends section 946.336 by 
reducing the minimum diameter requirement for Russet type varieties 
from 2\1/8\ inches to 2 inches during the July 15 through August 31 
period each season. Thus, the 2 inch minimum diameter or 4 ounce 
minimum weight will apply to Russet type potatoes throughout the entire 
season.
    At its meeting on February 15, 1996, the Committee unanimously 
recommended reducing the minimum diameter requirement for Russet type 
varieties to 2 inches during the period July 15 through August 31, when 
early crop shipments are made.
    When the current minimum diameter requirement for Russet type 
varieties was established, the Norgold Russet was the primary variety 
being grown for the early market, i.e., the months of July and August. 
This variety is more round in shape than those varieties grown for 
shipment later in the season. The newer varieties grown for the early 
market, such as the Norkotah Russet, are shaped the same as the 
varieties traditionally marketed later in the season. Thus, there is no 
need for a larger diameter requirement for earlier varieties. 
Therefore, the Committee recommended that all Russet type varieties be 
subject to the same minimum diameter requirement throughout the entire 
marketing season.
    Reducing the minimum diameter will enable handlers to market a 
larger portion of the crop in fresh market outlets. This change is 
expected to improve the marketing of Washington potatoes and increase 
returns to producers.
    The proposed rule concerning this action was published in the April 
22, 1996, Federal Register (61 FR 17587), with a 30-day comment period 
ending May 22, 1996. No comments were received.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the information and recommendations 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 further found that good cause exists 
for not postponing the effective date of this action until 30 days 
after publication in the Federal Register because: (1) This action 
relaxes size requirements on handlers and must be effective on July 15, 
1996, for the handlers to take full advantage of the relaxed 
requirements; (2) a 30-day period for written comments was provided on 
this action and no comments were received; and (3) delaying the 
effective date of this action will serve no useful purpose.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 946

    Marketing agreements, Potatoes, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 946 is hereby 
amended as follows:

PART 946--IRISH POTATOES GROWN IN WASHINGTON

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 946 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. Section 946.336 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(2)(ii) to 
read as follows:


Sec. 946.336  Handling regulation.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) All Russet types, 2 inches (54.0 mm) minimum diameter, or 4 
ounces minimum weight.
* * * * *
    Dated: June 13, 1996.
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen,
Acting Director, Fruit and Vegetable Division.
[FR Doc. 96-15629 Filed 6-18-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P