[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 244 (Tuesday, December 20, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 92564-92566]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-30303]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 987

[Doc. No. AMS-SC-16-0084; SC16-987-1 FIR]


Domestic Dates Produced or Packed in Riverside County, 
California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Affirmation of interim rule as final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final 
rule, without change, an interim rule that implemented a recommendation 
from the California Date Administrative Committee (committee) to 
decrease the assessment rate established for the committee for the 
2016-17 and subsequent crop years from $0.10 to $0.05 per hundredweight 
of dates handled under the marketing order (order). The committee 
locally administers the order and is comprised of producers and 
handlers of dates operating within the area of production. The interim 
rule was necessary to allow the committee to reduce its financial 
reserve while still providing adequate funding to meet program 
expenses.

DATES: Effective December 21, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Terry Vawter, Senior Marketing 
Specialist Jeffrey Smutny, Regional Director, California Marketing 
Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops 
Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906, or 
Email: [email protected] or [email protected].
    Small businesses may obtain information on complying with this 
regulation by viewing a guide at the following Web site: http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses; or by 
contacting Richard Lower, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, 
Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 
0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 
720-8938, or Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement and Order No. 987, both as amended (7 CFR part 987), 
regulating the handling of domestic dates produced or packed in 
Riverside County, California, hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' 
The order is

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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, 13563, and 13175.
    Under the order, California date handlers are subject to 
assessments, which provide funds to administer the order. Assessment 
rates issued under the order are intended to be applicable to all 
assessable domestic dates produced or packed in Riverside County, 
California, for the entire crop year and continue indefinitely until 
amended, suspended, or terminated. The committee's crop year began 
October 1, 2016, and ends on September 30, 2017.
    In an interim rule published in the Federal Register on September 
21, 2016, and effective on September 22, 2016, (81 FR 64759, Doc. No. 
AMS-SC-16-0084, SC16-987-1 IR), Sec.  997.339 was amended by decreasing 
the assessment rate established for California dates for the 2016-17 
and subsequent crop years from $0.10 to $0.05 per hundredweight. The 
decrease in the per hundredweight assessment rate allows the committee 
to reduce its financial reserve while still providing adequate funding 
to meet program expenses.

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 rule on small entities. 
Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final 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 70 date producers in the production area, 
and 11 date handlers subject to regulation under the order. The Small 
Business Administration (SBA) defines small agricultural producers as 
those having annual receipts of less than $750,000 and small 
agricultural service firms as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$7,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 
data for the most recently completed crop year (2015) shows that about 
4.36 tons, or 8,720 pounds, of dates were produced per acre. The 2015 
producer price published by NASS was $1,560 per ton. Thus, the value of 
date production per acre in 2014-15 averaged about $6,802 (4.36 tons 
times $1,560 per ton, rounded to the nearest dollar). At that average 
price, a producer would have to farm over 110 acres to receive an 
annual income from dates of $750,000 ($750,000 divided by $6,802 per 
acre equals 110.26 acres). According to committee staff, the majority 
of California date producers farm less than 110 acres. Thus, it can be 
concluded that the majority of date producers could be considered small 
entities.
    In addition, according to data from the committee staff, the 
majority of California date handlers have receipts of less than 
$7,500,000 and may also be considered small entities under SBA's 
definition.
    This rule continues in effect the action that decreased the 
assessment rate established for the committee and collected from 
handlers for the 2016-17 and subsequent crop years from $0.10 to $0.05 
per hundredweight of dates. The committee unanimously recommended 2016-
17 expenditures of $52,500 and an assessment rate of $0.05 per 
hundredweight of dates. The assessment rate of $0.05 is $0.05 lower 
than the rate previously in effect. Applying the $0.05 per 
hundredweight assessment rate to the committee's 29,000,000 pounds 
(290,000 hundredweight) crop estimate should provide $14,500 in 
assessment income. Thus, income derived from handler assessments, along 
with interest income and funds from the committee's monetary reserve, 
will be adequate to cover the budgeted expenses. This action will allow 
the committee to reduce its financial reserve while still providing 
adequate funding to meet program expenses.
    This rule continues in effect the action that decreased 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 date industry, and all interested persons 
were invited to attend the meeting and encouraged to participate in 
committee deliberations on all issues. Like all committee meetings, the 
June 22, 2016, meeting was a public meeting, and all entities, both 
large and small, were able to express views on this issue.
    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, ``Vegetable and Specialty Crops Marketing 
Orders.'' 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 date 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.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or 
before November 21, 2016. No comments were received. Therefore, for 
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: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=AMS-SC-16-0084-0001.
    This action also affirms information contained in the interim rule 
concerning Executive Orders 12866, 12988, 13175, and 13563; the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35); and the E-Gov Act (44 
U.S.C. 101).
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, it is found 
that finalizing the interim rule, without change, as published in the 
Federal Register (81 FR 64759, September 21, 2016) will tend to 
effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 987

    Dates, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

PART 987--DOMESTIC DATES PRODUCED OR PACKED IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY, 
CALIFORNIA [AMENDED]

0
Accordingly, the interim rule amending 7 CFR part 987, which was 
published at 81 FR 64759 on September 21, 2016, is adopted as a final 
rule, without change.


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    Dated: December 12, 2016.
Bruce Summers,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-30303 Filed 12-19-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-02-P