[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 141 (Monday, July 22, 1996)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 37812-37813]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-18466]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
7 CFR Parts 916 and 917

[Docket No. FV96-916-1 IFR]


Nectarines and Fresh Peaches Grown in California; Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This interim final rule establishes an assessment rate for the 
Nectarine Administrative Committee and the Peach Commodity Committee 
(Committees) under Marketing Order Nos. 916 and 917 for the 1996-97 and 
subsequent fiscal periods. The Committees are responsible for local 
administration of the marketing orders which regulate the handling of 
nectarines and fresh peaches grown in California. Authorization to 
assess nectarine and fresh peach handlers enable the Committees to 
incur expenses that are reasonable and necessary to administer the 
programs.

DATES: Effective on March 1, 1996. Comments received by August 21, 
1996, 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 in triplicate to the Docket 
Clerk, Fruit and Vegetable Division, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, room 
2523-S, Washington, DC 20090-6456, FAX (202) 720-5698. Comments should 
reference the docket 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Kate Nelson, Marketing Assistant, 
California Marketing Field Office, Fruit and Vegetable Division, AMS, 
USDA, 2202 Monterey Street, suite 102B, Fresno, California 93721, (209) 
487-5901, FAX (209) 487-5906, or Kenneth G. Johnson, Marketing 
Specialist, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable 
Division, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, room 2523-S, Washington, DC 20090-
6456, telephone (202) 720-5127, FAX (202) 720-5698. Small businesses 
may request information on compliance with this regulation by 
contacting: Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit 
and Vegetable Division, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, Room 2523-S, 
Washington, DC 20090-6456; telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax # (202) 720-
5698.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 916 and Order No. 916, both as amended (7 CFR part 916), 
regulating the handling of nectarines grown in California, and 
Marketing Agreement No. 917 and Order No. 917, both as amended (7 CFR 
part 917), regulating the handling of fresh peaches grown in 
California, hereinafter referred to as the ``orders.'' 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 of Agriculture (Department) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12778, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing orders now in effect, California 
nectarine and fresh peach handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to 
administer the orders are derived from such assessments. It is intended 
that the assessment rates as issued herein will be applicable to all 
assessable nectarines and peaches beginning March 1, 1996, and 
continuing until amended, suspended, or terminated. This 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. 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 to review the 
Secretary's ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not 
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 rule 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 the 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 1,800 producers of nectarines and peaches 
in the production area and approximately 300 handlers subject to 
regulation under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers have 
been defined by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.601) as 
those having annual receipts less than $500,000, and small agricultural 
service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$5,000,000. The majority of nectarine and fresh peach producers and 
handlers may be classified as small entities.
    The nectarine and peach marketing orders provide authority for the 
Committees, with the approval of the Department, to formulate annual 
budgets of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer 
the programs. The members of the Committees are producers and handlers 
of California nectarines and fresh peaches. They are familiar with the 
Committees' needs and with the costs for goods and services in their 
local area and are thus in a position to formulate appropriate budgets 
and assessment rates. The assessment rates are formulated and discussed 
in public meetings. Thus, all directly affected persons have an 
opportunity to participate and provide input.
    The Nectarine Administrative Committee met on May 2, 1996, and 
unanimously recommended 1996-97 expenditures of $3,682,728 and an 
assessment rate of $0.1850 per 25-pound container or equivalent of 
nectarines. In comparison, last year's budgeted expenditures were 
$3,683,031. The assessment rate of $0.1850 is the same as last year's 
established rate. Major expenditures recommended by the Committee for 
the 1996-97 year include $1,326,376 for domestic market development, 
$972,300 for inspection, $342,250 in salaries and benefits, and 
$120,870 for research.
    The Peach Commodity Committee met on May 1, 1996, and unanimously 
recommended 1996-97 expenditures of $3,722,757 and an assessment rate 
of

[[Page 37813]]

$0.1900 per 25-pound container or equivalent of fresh peaches. In 
comparison, last year's budgeted expenditures were $3,736,531. The 
assessment rate of $0.1900 is the same as last year's established rate. 
Major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 1996-97 year 
include $1,326,376 for domestic market development, $991,500 for 
inspection, $342,250 in salaries and benefits, and $120,870 for 
research.
    The assessment rates recommended by the Committees were derived by 
dividing anticipated expenses by expected shipments of California 
nectarines and fresh peaches. Nectarine shipments for the year are 
estimated at 17,266,000 25-pound containers or equivalent which should 
provide $3,194,210 in assessment income, and fresh peach shipments for 
the year are estimated at 17,250,000 25-pound containers or equivalent 
which should provide $3,277,500 in assessment income. Income derived 
from handler assessments, the Plum Commodity Committee, and the Pear 
Field Service, along with interest income and funds from the 
Committees' authorized reserves, will be adequate to cover budgeted 
expenses. Funds in the reserves will be kept within the maximum 
permitted by the orders.
    While this rule will impose some additional costs on handlers, the 
costs are 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 by the operation of the 
marketing order. Therefore, the AMS has determined that this rule will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    The assessment rates established in this rule will continue in 
effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by the 
Secretary upon recommendation and information submitted by the 
Committees or other available information.
    Although these assessment rates are effective for an indefinite 
period, the Committees will continue to meet prior to or during each 
fiscal period to recommend budgets of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of their assessment rates. The dates 
and times of Committee meetings are available from the Committees or 
the Department. Committee meetings are open to the public and 
interested persons may express their views at these meetings. The 
Department will evaluate the Committees' recommendations and other 
available information to determine whether modification of the 
assessment rates are needed. Further rulemaking will be undertaken as 
necessary. The Committees' 1996-97 budgets and those for subsequent 
fiscal periods will be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by the 
Department.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the information and recommendation submitted by the Committees 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 Committees need to have sufficient funds to 
pay their expenses which are incurred on a continuous basis; (2) the 
1996-97 fiscal period began on March 1, 1996, and the marketing orders 
require that the rates of assessment for each fiscal period apply to 
all assessable nectarines and peaches handled during such fiscal 
period; (3) handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously 
recommended by the Committees at public meetings and are similar to 
other assessment rate actions issued in past years; and (4) this 
interim final rule provides a 30-day comment period, and all comments 
timely received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 916

    Marketing agreements, Nectarines, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

7 CFR Part 917

    Marketing agreements, Peaches, Pears, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR parts 916 and 917 
are amended as follows:

PART 916--NECTARINES GROWN IN CALIFORNIA

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 916 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. A new subpart--Assessment Rates and a new Sec. 916.234 are added 
to read as follows:

    Note: This section will appear in the Code of Federal 
Regulations.

Subpart--Assessment Rates


Sec. 916.234   Assessment rate.

    On and after March 1, 1996, an assessment rate of $0.1850 per 25-
pound container or equivalent of nectarines is established for 
California nectarines.

PART 917--FRESH PEARS AND PEACHES GROWN IN CALIFORNIA

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 917 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. A new subpart--Assessment Rates and a new Sec. 917.258 are added 
to read as follows:

    Note: This section will appear in the Code of Federal 
Regulations.

Subpart--Assessment Rates


Sec. 917.258   Assessment rate.

    On and after March 1, 1996, an assessment rate of $0.1900 per 25-
pound container or equivalent of fresh peaches is established for 
California fresh peaches.

    Dated: July 15, 1996.
Robert C. Keeney,
Director, Fruit and Vegetable Division.
[FR Doc. 96-18466 Filed 7-19-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P