[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 80 (Thursday, April 25, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24331-24333]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09738]



Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 922

[Docket No. AMS-FV-12-0028; FV12-922-2 FIR]

Apricots Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Temporary 
Suspension of Handling Regulations

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Affirmation of interim rule as final rule.


SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final 
rule, without change, an interim rule that temporarily suspended the 
handling regulations and inspection requirements prescribed under the 
marketing order for apricots grown in designated Counties in 
Washington. The interim rule suspended the minimum grade, size, 
quality, maturity, and inspection requirements for the 2012-2013 fiscal 
period. This change is expected to reduce overall industry expenses and 
increase net returns to producers and handlers.

DATES: Effective April 26, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Manuel Michel, Marketing Specialist, 
or Gary Olson, Regional Director, Northwest Marketing Field Office, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, 
AMS, USDA; Telephone: (503) 326-

[[Page 24332]]

2724; Fax: (503) 326-7440; or Email: Manuel.Michel@ams.usda.gov or 
    Small businesses may obtain information on complying with this and 
other marketing order and agreement regulations by viewing a guide at 
the following Web site: http://www.ams.usda.gov/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide; or by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; 
Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement and Order No. 922, as amended (7 CFR 922), regulating the 
handling of apricots grown in designated counties in Washington, 
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.''
    USDA is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 
    The handling of apricots grown in designated Counties in Washington 
is regulated by 7 CFR part 922. Section 922.321, with exemptions for 
certain varieties and types of shipments, provides that all apricots 
shall grade not less than Washington No. 1, and are at least reasonably 
uniform in color; provided, that such apricots of the Moorpark variety 
in open containers shall be generally well matured. The regulation also 
includes a minimum quantity exemption, as well as specific tolerances 
for apricots that fail to meet color, minimum diameter, and quality 
requirements. The objective of the handling regulation has been to 
ensure that only acceptable quality apricots enter fresh market 
channels, thereby ensuring consumer satisfaction, increasing sales, and 
improving returns to producers. However, due to the evolving nature of 
fresh fruit marketing, many wholesale and retail apricot buyers now 
require their own specific criteria for product quality from all 
handlers. Therefore, this rule continues in effect the interim rule 
that suspended the handling regulations prescribed in Sec.  922.321 for 
the 2012-2013 fiscal period.
    Section 922.111 contains provisions for handlers to apply for 
waivers from mandatory inspection when such inspection is not readily 
available from the Inspection Service. With the suspension of the 
regulation, such waivers are no longer necessary. Therefore, consistent 
with the suspension of Sec.  922.321, this rule also continues in 
effect the interim rule that suspended Sec.  922.111 for the 2012-2013 
fiscal period.
    In an interim rule published in the Federal Register on January 8, 
2013, and effective on January 9, 2013, (78 FR 1127, Doc. No. AMS-FV-
12-0028, FV12-922-2 IR), Sec. Sec.  922.321 and 922.111 were suspended 
for the 2012-13 fiscal period, ending March 31, 2013.

Final 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 final regulatory flexibility 
    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.
    There are approximately 20 handlers of Washington apricots who are 
subject to regulation under the marketing order and approximately 94 
apricot producers in the production area. Small agricultural service 
firms 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).
    The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that 
the total annual production of Washington apricots has fluctuated from 
approximately 4,200 to 8,900 tons per year for the past several years. 
NASS also reports that the 2011 value of utilized production for 
Washington apricots was $7,132,000. Therefore, based on the 2011 value 
of Washington apricots and the approximate number of apricot producers 
in the production area, the 2011 average producer receipts were 
approximately $76,000; which is considerably less than the $750,000 
threshold. In view of the foregoing, it can be concluded that a 
majority of the handlers and producers of Washington apricots may be 
classified as small entities.
    This rule continues in effect the interim rule that suspended the 
handling regulations specified in Sec. Sec.  922.111 and 922.321 for 
the 2012-2013 fiscal period. The suspension of these handling 
regulations allows the Washington apricot industry to market apricots 
without regard to the minimum grade, size, quality, maturity, and 
inspection requirements prescribed under the federal marketing order. 
Authority for this action is provided in Sec.  922.53.
    This action is not expected to increase the costs associated with 
the order requirements. Rather, this action allows handlers to decrease 
their costs during the 2012-2013 fiscal period by eliminating the 
expense associated with mandatory inspection. However, this rule does 
not impede handlers from seeking inspection on a voluntary basis if 
they find inspection desirable. The opportunities and benefits of this 
rule are equally available to all Washington apricot handlers and 
producers, regardless of their size.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501-3520), 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 apricot 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. In addition, USDA has not identified any 
relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this 
    Further, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout 
the Washington apricot industry and all interested persons were invited 
to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like 
all Committee meetings, the May 24, 2012, meeting was a public meeting 
and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their 
views on this issue.
    Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or 
before March 11, 2013. No comments were received. Therefore, for the 
reasons given in the interim rule, we are adopting the interim rule as 
a final rule, without change.
    To view the interim rule, go to: http://www.regulations.gov/

[[Page 24333]]

    This action also affirms information contained in the interim rule 
concerning Executive Orders 12866 and 12988, the Paperwork Reduction 
Act (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), and the E-Gov Act (44 U.S.C. 101).
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the Committee's recommendation, and other information, it is found that 
finalizing the interim rule, without change, as published in the 
Federal Register (78 FR 1127, January 8, 2013) will tend to effectuate 
the declared policy of the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 922

    Apricots, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 


Accordingly, the interim rule that amended 7 CFR part 922 and was 
published at 78 FR 1127 on January 8, 2013, is adopted as a final rule, 
without change.

    Dated: April 19, 2013.
Rex A. Barnes,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-09738 Filed 4-24-13; 8:45 am]