Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate, 55380-55382 [06-7867]

Download as PDF 55380 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 184 / Friday, September 22, 2006 / Proposed Rules day, following the end of the billing cycle in which voluntary laboratory services and other services were rendered at a particular Science and Technology laboratory or office. (b) The total charge or fee shall normally be stated directly on the analysis report or on a standardized official certificate form for the laboratory analysis of a specific agricultural commodity and related commodity products. (c) The actual bill for collection will be issued by the USDA, National Finance Center Billings and Collection Branch, (Mail: P.O. Box 60075), 13800 Old Gentilly Road, New Orleans, Louisiana 70160–0001. PART 92—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] 5. Part 92 is removed in its entirety and reserved. Dated: September 14, 2006. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 06–7821 Filed 9–21–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–M DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 993 [Docket No. FV06–993–1 PR] Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL AGENCY: SUMMARY: This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for the Prune Marketing Committee (committee) under Marketing Order No. 993 for the 2006–07 and subsequent crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes. The committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of dried prunes grown in California. Assessments upon dried prune handlers are used by the committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The crop year began August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Comments must be received by October 23, 2006. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this rule. Comments must be VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:17 Sep 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 sent to the Docket Clerk, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Fax: (202) 720–8938; or E-mail: moab.docketclerk@usda.gov, or Internet: https://www.regulations.gov. 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, or can be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/fv/moab.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Sasselli, Program Analyst, or Terry Vawter, Marketing Specialist, California Marketing Field Office, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487–5901; Fax (559) 487–5906, or E-mail: Toni.Sasselli@usda.gov or Terry.Vawter@usda.gov. Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Telephone: (202) 720– 2491, Fax: (202) 720–8938, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement No. 110 and Marketing Order No. 993, both as amended (7 CFR part 993), regulating the handling of dried prunes grown in California, hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘order.’’ The marketing agreement and order 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 (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866. This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California dried prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate as proposed herein would be applicable to all assessable dried prunes beginning August 1, 2006, and continue 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 PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA 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 USDA 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 USDA’s ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling. This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for the committee for the 2006–07 and subsequent crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes handled. The California dried prune marketing order provides authority for the committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the program. The members of the committee are producers and handlers of California dried prunes. They are familiar with the committee’s needs and with the costs for goods and services in their local area; and are, thus, in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in at least one public meeting. Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input. For the 2005–06 and subsequent crop years, the committee recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue in effect from crop year to crop year unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the committee or other information available to USDA. The committee met on June 29, 2006, and unanimously recommended a decreased assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes and expenditures totaling $77,215 for the 2006–07 crop year. In comparison, last year’s approved expenses were $89,090. The proposed assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes is $0.25 lower than the rate currently in effect. The committee recommended a lower assessment rate based on an estimated production of 145,000 tons of salable dried prunes. At the proposed assessment rate, the assessment income E:\FR\FM\22SEP1.SGM 22SEP1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 184 / Friday, September 22, 2006 / Proposed Rules for the 2006–07 crop year would be $58,000. The committee currently has $19,215 of excess assessment income available; and those funds, plus assessment and interest income, would be adequate to cover its estimated expenses of $77,215. The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2006–07 crop year include $48,405 for personnel salaries, $15,645 for operating expenses, and $13,165 for contingencies. For the 2005–06 crop year, the committee’s budgeted expenses for personnel salaries, operating expenses, and contingencies were $45,945, $16,755, and $26,390, respectively. The assessment rate, recommended by the committee was derived by dividing anticipated expenses by the estimated salable tons of California dried prunes. Dried prune production for the year is estimated to be 145,000 salable tons, which should provide $58,000 in assessment income at the proposed $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes. Income derived from handler assessments, plus excess funds from the 2005–06 crop year should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. The committee is authorized under § 993.81(c) of the order to use excess assessment funds from the 2005–06 crop year (currently estimated at $19,215) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop year to meet 2006–07 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, the committee either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers. The proposed assessment rate would continue in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the committee or other available information. Although this assessment rate would be in effect for an indefinite period, the committee would continue to meet prior to or during each crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and times of committee meetings are available from the committee or USDA. Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate committee recommendations and other available information to determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking would be undertaken as necessary. The committee’s 2006–07 budget and those for subsequent crop years would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by USDA. VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:17 Sep 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 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. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis. 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 1,100 producers of dried prunes in the production area and approximately 22 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. The Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) defines small agricultural producers as those whose annual receipts are less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000. An estimated 1,068 of the 1,100 producers (97.1 percent) have incomes of less than $750,000 and would be considered small producers. Fourteen of the 22 handlers (63.6 percent) have incomes from handling prunes of less than $6,500,000 and could be considered small handlers. Therefore, the majority of handlers and producers of California dried prunes may be classified as small entities. This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for the committee and collected from handlers for the 2006–07 and subsequent crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes. The committee met on June 29, 2006, and unanimously recommended a 2006–07 total budget of $77,215 and a decreased assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes. The proposed recommended budget of $77,215 for the 2006–07 crop year is smaller than the budgets in previous crop years. The proposed assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes is $0.25 lower than the rate currently in effect. The quantity of salable dried prunes for the 2006–07 crop year is currently estimated at 145,000 tons of salable dried prunes, compared to 94,402 tons of salable dried prunes for the 2005–06 crop year. The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2006–07 crop year include $48,405 for PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55381 personnel salaries, $15,645 for operating expenses, and $13,165 for contingencies. For the 2005–06 crop year, the committee’s budgeted expenses for personnel salaries, operating expenses, and contingencies were $45,945, $16,755, and $26,390, respectively. Prior to arriving at its budget of $77,215, the committee considered information from various sources, including the committee’s Executive Subcommittee. Alternative assessment rates, including the rate currently in effect, and different expenditure levels were discussed by the subcommittee and the committee. An alternative to this action would be to continue with the $0.65 per ton assessment rate. However, an assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes and excess funds from the 2005–06 crop year will provide enough income to fund the committee’s operations. Therefore, the committee agreed that $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes in an acceptable assessment rate. Section 993.81(c) of the order provides the committee the authority to use excess assessment funds from the 2005–06 crop year (currently estimated at $19,215) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop year to meet 2005–06 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, the committee either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers. A review of historical information and preliminary data pertaining to the upcoming crop year indicates that the producer price for the 2006–07 crop year is expected to average between $1,500 and $1,600 per ton of salable dried prunes. Based on an estimated 145,000 salable tons of dried prunes, assessment revenue as a percentage of producer prices during the 2006–07 crop year is expected to be between .025 and .026 percent. This action would decrease 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 dried prune industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in committee deliberations on all issues. Like all committee meetings, the June 29, 2006, meeting was public and all entities, both large and small, were encouraged to express views on this issue. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit information on the regulatory and E:\FR\FM\22SEP1.SGM 22SEP1 55382 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 184 / Friday, September 22, 2006 / Proposed Rules informational impacts of this action on small businesses. This proposed rule would impose no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large California dried prune 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. The AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this rule. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/ fv/moab/html. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposed rule. Thirty days is deemed appropriate because: (1) The 2006–07 crop year began on August 1, 2006, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each crop year apply to all assessable prunes handled during such crop year; (2) the assessment rate is considerably lower than that which is currently in effect; and (3) handlers are aware of this action, which was unanimously recommended by the committee at a public meeting. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993 Marketing agreements, Plums, Prunes, Reporting and Recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 993—DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as follows: jlentini on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows: § 993.347 Assessment rate. On and after August 1, 2006, an assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes. VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:17 Sep 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 Dated: September 15, 2006. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 06–7867 Filed 9–21–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 10 CFR Parts 19, 20, and 50 RIN 3150–AH40 Occupational Dose Records, Labeling Containers, and the Total Effective Dose Equivalent Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) is proposing to amend its regulations related to the reporting of annual dose to workers, the definition of the total effective dose equivalent (TEDE), the labeling of certain containers holding licensed material, and the determination of cumulative occupational radiation dose. The proposed rule would limit the routine reporting of annual doses to workers to those whose annual dose exceeds a specific dose threshold or who request a report. The proposed rule would also amend the definition of TEDE to be consistent with current Commission policy. The proposed rule would also modify the labeling requirements for certain containers holding licensed material within posted areas in nuclear power facilities. Finally, the proposed rule would remove the requirement that licensees attempt to obtain cumulative exposure records for workers unless these individuals are being authorized to receive a planned special exposure. These revisions would reduce the administrative and information collection burdens on NRC and Agreement State licensees without affecting the level of protection to either the health and safety of workers and the public or the environment. DATES: Submit comments on this proposed rule by December 6, 2006. Submit comments on the information collection aspects of this proposed rule by October 23, 2006. Comments received after the above dates will be considered if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be given to comments received after these dates. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods. Please PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 include the following number RIN 3150–AH40 in the subject line of your comments. Comments on rulemakings submitted in writing or in electronic form will be made available for public inspection. Because your comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information, the NRC cautions you against including personal information such as social security numbers and birth dates in your submission. Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff. E-mail comments to: SECY@nrc.gov. If you do not receive a reply e-mail confirming that we have received your comments, contact us directly at (301) 415–1966. You may also submit comments via the NRC’s rulemaking Web site at https://ruleforum.llnl.gov. Address questions about our rulemaking Web site to Carol Gallagher (301) 415– 5905; e-mail cag@nrc.gov. Comments can also be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal https:// www.regulations.gov. Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Federal workdays. (Telephone (301) 415–1966). Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 415–1101. Publicly available documents related to this rulemaking may be viewed electronically on the public computers located at the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR), O1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a fee. Selected documents, including comments, may be viewed and downloaded electronically via the NRC rulemaking Web site at https:// ruleforum.llnl.gov. Publically available documents created or received at the NRC after November 1, 1999, are available electronically at the NRC’s Electronic Reading Room at https://www.nrc.gov/ reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, the public can gain entry into the NRC’s Agencywide Document Access and Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and image files of NRC’s public documents. If you do not have access to ADAMS, contact the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1–800–397–4209, 301–415–4737 or by e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov. You may submit comments on the information collections by the methods indicated in the Paperwork Reduction Act Statement. E:\FR\FM\22SEP1.SGM 22SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 184 (Friday, September 22, 2006)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55380-55382]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-7867]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 993

[Docket No. FV06-993-1 PR]


Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for 
the Prune Marketing Committee (committee) under Marketing Order No. 993 
for the 2006-07 and subsequent crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 per ton 
of salable dried prunes. The committee locally administers the 
marketing order which regulates the handling of dried prunes grown in 
California. Assessments upon dried prune handlers are used by the 
committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The 
crop year began August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate would 
remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated.

DATES: Comments must be received by October 23, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this rule. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, 
Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or E-mail: moab.docketclerk@usda.gov, 
or Internet: https://www.regulations.gov. 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, or can be viewed at: 
https://www.ams.usda.gov/fv/moab.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Sasselli, Program Analyst, or 
Terry Vawter, Marketing Specialist, California Marketing Field Office, 
Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901; Fax 
(559) 487-5906, or E-mail: Toni.Sasselli@usda.gov or 
Terry.Vawter@usda.gov.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration 
Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 
720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 110 and Marketing Order No. 993, both as amended (7 CFR 
part 993), regulating the handling of dried prunes grown in California, 
hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' The marketing agreement and 
order 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 (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California 
dried prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer 
the order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the 
assessment rate as proposed herein would be applicable to all 
assessable dried prunes beginning August 1, 2006, and continue 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 USDA 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 USDA 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 USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for the 
committee for the 2006-07 and subsequent crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 
per ton of salable dried prunes handled.
    The California dried prune marketing order provides authority for 
the committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget 
of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the 
program. The members of the committee are producers and handlers of 
California dried prunes. They are familiar with the committee's needs 
and with the costs for goods and services in their local area; and are, 
thus, in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment 
rate. The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in at least one 
public meeting. Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity 
to participate and provide input.
    For the 2005-06 and subsequent crop years, the committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from crop year to crop year unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the 
committee or other information available to USDA.
    The committee met on June 29, 2006, and unanimously recommended a 
decreased assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes and 
expenditures totaling $77,215 for the 2006-07 crop year. In comparison, 
last year's approved expenses were $89,090. The proposed assessment 
rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes is $0.25 lower than the 
rate currently in effect.
    The committee recommended a lower assessment rate based on an 
estimated production of 145,000 tons of salable dried prunes. At the 
proposed assessment rate, the assessment income

[[Page 55381]]

for the 2006-07 crop year would be $58,000. The committee currently has 
$19,215 of excess assessment income available; and those funds, plus 
assessment and interest income, would be adequate to cover its 
estimated expenses of $77,215.
    The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2006-07 
crop year include $48,405 for personnel salaries, $15,645 for operating 
expenses, and $13,165 for contingencies. For the 2005-06 crop year, the 
committee's budgeted expenses for personnel salaries, operating 
expenses, and contingencies were $45,945, $16,755, and $26,390, 
respectively.
    The assessment rate, recommended by the committee was derived by 
dividing anticipated expenses by the estimated salable tons of 
California dried prunes. Dried prune production for the year is 
estimated to be 145,000 salable tons, which should provide $58,000 in 
assessment income at the proposed $0.40 per ton of salable dried 
prunes. Income derived from handler assessments, plus excess funds from 
the 2005-06 crop year should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    The committee is authorized under Sec.  993.81(c) of the order to 
use excess assessment funds from the 2005-06 crop year (currently 
estimated at $19,215) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop 
year to meet 2006-07 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, 
the committee either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers.
    The proposed assessment rate would continue in effect indefinitely 
unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation 
and information submitted by the committee or other available 
information.
    Although this assessment rate would be in effect for an indefinite 
period, the committee would continue to meet prior to or during each 
crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and 
times of committee meetings are available from the committee or USDA. 
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may 
express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking would 
be undertaken as necessary. The committee's 2006-07 budget and those 
for subsequent crop years would be reviewed and, as appropriate, 
approved by USDA.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    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. Accordingly, AMS has 
prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis.
    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 1,100 producers of dried prunes in the 
production area and approximately 22 handlers subject to regulation 
under the marketing order. The Small Business Administration (13 CFR 
121.201) defines small agricultural producers as those whose annual 
receipts are less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms 
as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000.
    An estimated 1,068 of the 1,100 producers (97.1 percent) have 
incomes of less than $750,000 and would be considered small producers. 
Fourteen of the 22 handlers (63.6 percent) have incomes from handling 
prunes of less than $6,500,000 and could be considered small handlers. 
Therefore, the majority of handlers and producers of California dried 
prunes may be classified as small entities.
    This rule would decrease the assessment rate established for the 
committee and collected from handlers for the 2006-07 and subsequent 
crop years from $0.65 to $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes.
    The committee met on June 29, 2006, and unanimously recommended a 
2006-07 total budget of $77,215 and a decreased assessment rate of 
$0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes. The proposed recommended budget 
of $77,215 for the 2006-07 crop year is smaller than the budgets in 
previous crop years. The proposed assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of 
salable dried prunes is $0.25 lower than the rate currently in effect. 
The quantity of salable dried prunes for the 2006-07 crop year is 
currently estimated at 145,000 tons of salable dried prunes, compared 
to 94,402 tons of salable dried prunes for the 2005-06 crop year.
    The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2006-07 
crop year include $48,405 for personnel salaries, $15,645 for operating 
expenses, and $13,165 for contingencies. For the 2005-06 crop year, the 
committee's budgeted expenses for personnel salaries, operating 
expenses, and contingencies were $45,945, $16,755, and $26,390, 
respectively.
    Prior to arriving at its budget of $77,215, the committee 
considered information from various sources, including the committee's 
Executive Subcommittee. Alternative assessment rates, including the 
rate currently in effect, and different expenditure levels were 
discussed by the subcommittee and the committee. An alternative to this 
action would be to continue with the $0.65 per ton assessment rate. 
However, an assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of salable dried prunes 
and excess funds from the 2005-06 crop year will provide enough income 
to fund the committee's operations.
    Therefore, the committee agreed that $0.40 per ton of salable dried 
prunes in an acceptable assessment rate. Section 993.81(c) of the order 
provides the committee the authority to use excess assessment funds 
from the 2005-06 crop year (currently estimated at $19,215) for up to 5 
months beyond the end of the crop year to meet 2005-06 crop year 
expenses. At the end of the 5 months, the committee either refunds or 
credits excess funds to handlers.
    A review of historical information and preliminary data pertaining 
to the upcoming crop year indicates that the producer price for the 
2006-07 crop year is expected to average between $1,500 and $1,600 per 
ton of salable dried prunes. Based on an estimated 145,000 salable tons 
of dried prunes, assessment revenue as a percentage of producer prices 
during the 2006-07 crop year is expected to be between .025 and .026 
percent.
    This action would decrease 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 dried prune industry and all 
interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate 
in committee deliberations on all issues. Like all committee meetings, 
the June 29, 2006, meeting was public and all entities, both large and 
small, were encouraged to express views on this issue. Finally, 
interested persons are invited to submit information on the regulatory 
and

[[Page 55382]]

informational impacts of this action on small businesses.
    This proposed rule would impose no additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large California dried 
prune 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.
    The AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to 
promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to 
provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government 
information and services, and for other purposes.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http:/
/www.ams.usda.gov/fv/moab/html. Any questions about the compliance 
guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.
    A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to 
respond to this proposed rule. Thirty days is deemed appropriate 
because: (1) The 2006-07 crop year began on August 1, 2006, and the 
marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each crop year 
apply to all assessable prunes handled during such crop year; (2) the 
assessment rate is considerably lower than that which is currently in 
effect; and (3) handlers are aware of this action, which was 
unanimously recommended by the committee at a public meeting.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993

    Marketing agreements, Plums, Prunes, Reporting and Recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 993--DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  993.347  Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1, 2006, an assessment rate of $0.40 per ton of 
salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes.

    Dated: September 15, 2006.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 06-7867 Filed 9-21-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P