Tomatoes Grown in Florida; Decreased Assessment Rate, 64123-64126 [E7-22277]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 220 / Thursday, November 15, 2007 / Rules and Regulations (d) * * * (1) * * * For Farm Loan Programs direct loans, this notice will be sent after the borrower is over 90 days past due and immediately after sending notification of servicing rights in accordance with 7 CFR part 766. * * * * * * * * Subpart D—Final Payment on Loans 43. Section 1951.151 is amended by removing the text ‘‘Farm Service Agency (FSA),’’ in the first sentence; and adding a new last sentence to read as follows: I Subpart B—Management of Property 48. Section 1955.51 is amended by removing the comma immediately following ‘‘(RBS)’’ and adding the word ‘‘and’’ in its place; by removing the text ‘‘, and Farm Service Agency (FSA),’’ in the first sentence of the introductory paragraph; and revising the second sentence of the introductory paragraph to read as follows: I § 1955.51 * * * In addition, this subpart is inapplicable to Farm Service Agency, Farm Loan Programs. Subpart F—Analyzing Credit Needs and Graduation of Borrowers Subpart C—Disposal of Inventory Property 44. Section 1951.251 is amended by removing the text ‘‘Farm Service Agency (FSA)’’, in the third sentence; and revising the fourth sentence to read as follows: I Purpose. I 49. Section 1955.101 is amended by revising the fifth sentence to read as follows: § 1955.101 Subpart A—Servicing and Liquidation of Chattel Security 53. Section 1962.1 is amended by adding a new last sentence to read as follows: I § 1962.1 Purpose. * * * This subpart is inapplicable to Farm Service Agency, Farm Loan Programs. PART 1965—REAL PROPERTY Purpose. * * * This subpart does not apply to Farm Service Agency, Farm Loan Programs, or to RHS single family housing loans or community program loans sold without insurance to the private sector. * * * * * * * * § 1951.151 64123 Subpart A—[Removed] 54. Subpart A is removed and reserved. I Dated: November 5, 2007. Mark Keenum, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Dated: November 2, 2007. Thomas C. Dorr, Under Secretary for Rural Development. [FR Doc. 07–5659 Filed 11–14–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–05–P Purpose. * * * This subpart does not apply to Farm Service Agency, Farm Loan Programs and to RHS direct single family housing (SFH) customers. * * * * * * * * * * * This subpart does not apply to Farm Service Agency, Farm Loan Programs, Single Family Housing (SFH) inventory property, or to the Rural Rental Housing, Rural Cooperative Housing, and Farm Labor Housing Programs. * * * * * * * * Subparts J, L, S, and T—[Removed] PART 1956—DEBT SETTLEMENT Tomatoes Grown in Florida; Decreased Assessment Rate 50. The authority citation for part 1956 continues to read as follows: AGENCY: § 1951.251 Purpose. I 45. Subparts J, L, S, and T are removed and reserved. I PART 1955—PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 7 U.S.C. 1989; 31 U.S.C. 3711; 42 U.S.C. 1480. 46. The authority citation for part 1955 continues to read as follows: Subpart B—Debt Settlement—Farm Loan Programs and Multi-Family Housing I Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 7 U.S.C. 1989; 42 U.S.C. 1480. Subpart A—Liquidation of Loans Secured by Real Estate and Acquisition of Real and Chattel Property § 1956.54 * * * * Debt forgiveness. * * * Included, but not limited to, are losses from a writedown or writeoff under 7 CFR part 766, debt settlement, after discharge under the provisions of the bankruptcy code, and associated with release of liability. * * * * * * * * 47. Section 1955.1 is amended by removing the text ‘‘Farm Credit programs of the Farm Service Agency (FSA),’’ in the second sentence; and revising the fourth sentence to read as follows: rfrederick on PROD1PC67 with RULES Purpose. * * * This subpart does not apply to Farm Service Agency, Farm Loan Programs, to RHS single family housing loans, or to CF loans sold without insurance in the private sector. * * * * * * * * VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:27 Nov 14, 2007 Jkt 214001 Definitions. * I § 1955.1 51. Revise the second sentence of the ‘‘debt forgiveness’’ definition in § 1956.54 to read as follows: I PART 1962—PERSONAL PROPERTY 52. The authority citation for part 1962 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 7 U.S.C. 1989; 42 U.S.C. 1480. PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 966 [Docket No. AMS–FV–07–0114; FV07–966– 2 IFR] Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments. SUMMARY: This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the Florida Tomato Committee (Committee) for the 2007–08 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.035 to $0.0325 per 25pound carton of tomatoes handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida. Assessments upon tomato handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal period begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Effective November 16, 2007. Comments received by January 14, 2008, 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 E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 rfrederick on PROD1PC67 with RULES 64124 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 220 / Thursday, November 15, 2007 / Rules and Regulations 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 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.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William G. Pimental, Marketing Specialist or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Manager, Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324–3375 Fax: (863) 325–8793, or E-mail: William.Pimental@usda.gov or Christian.Nissen@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. 125 and Order No. 966, both as amended (7 CFR part 966), regulating the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida, 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.’’ 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, Florida tomato handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable tomatoes beginning August 1, 2007, 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 VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:27 Nov 14, 2007 Jkt 214001 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 decreases the assessment rate established for the Committee for the 2007–08 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.035 per 25-pound carton to $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. The Florida tomato 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 of Florida tomatoes. 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 a public meeting. Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input. For the 2006–07 and subsequent fiscal periods, the Committee recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period 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 August 23, 2007, and unanimously recommended 2007–08 expenditures of $2,101,000.00 and an assessment rate of $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. In comparison, last year’s budgeted expenditures were $2,193,700. The assessment rate of $0.0325 is $0.0025 lower than the rate currently in effect. Last season the industry shipped 2.6 million 25-pound cartons more than the Committee had anticipated, providing greater revenues than expected from assessments. The Committee’s 2006–07 expenses were $200,000 less than budgeted, and they utilized less from reserves than anticipated. The Committee also recommended a PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 reduced budget for 2007–08. Therefore, the Committee voted to recommend a reduced assessment rate. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2007–08 year include $900,000 for education and promotion, $467,000 for salaries, $320,000 for research, and $71,000 for employee retirement. Budgeted expenses for these items in 2006–07 were $1,000,000, $445,900, $320,000, and $67,000, respectively. The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by dividing anticipated expenses, less carry-in and reserve revenues totaling $476,000, by expected shipments of Florida tomatoes. Tomato shipments for the year are estimated at 50 million 25-pound cartons, which should provide $1,625,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler assessments, along with interest income and funds from the Committee’s authorized reserve will be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Funds in the reserve (currently approximately $780,000) will be kept within the maximum permitted by § 966.44 of the order, which states that excess funds cannot exceed one fiscal period’s expenses. The assessment rate established in this rule will 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 is effective for an indefinite period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each fiscal period 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 will evaluate Committee recommendations and other available information to determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will be undertaken as necessary. The Committee’s 2007–08 budget and those for subsequent fiscal periods will 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, E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 rfrederick on PROD1PC67 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 220 / Thursday, November 15, 2007 / Rules and Regulations 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. There are approximately 100 producers of tomatoes in the production area and approximately 70 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000. Based on industry and Committee data, the average annual price for fresh Florida tomatoes during the 2006–07 season was approximately $7.69 per 25pound container, and total fresh shipments for the 2006–07 season were 52,505,687 25-pound cartons of tomatoes. Committee data indicates that approximately 25 percent of the handlers handle 94 percent of the total volume shipped outside the regulated area. Based on the average price, about 75 percent of handlers could be considered small businesses under SBA’s definition. In addition, based on production data, grower prices as reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the total number of Florida tomato growers, the average annual grower revenue is below $750,000. Thus, the majority of handlers and producers of Florida tomatoes may be classified as small entities. This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2007–08 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.035 to $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. The Committee unanimously recommended 2007–08 expenditures of $2,101,000 and an assessment rate of $0.0325 per 25-pound carton. The assessment rate of $0.0325 is $0.0025 lower than the 2006–07 rate. The quantity of assessable tomatoes for the 2007–08 season is estimated at 50 million 25-pound cartons. Thus, the $0.0325 rate should provide $1,625,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler assessments, along with interest income and funds from the Committee’s authorized reserve will be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:27 Nov 14, 2007 Jkt 214001 The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2007–08 year include $900,000 for education and promotion, $467,000 for salaries, $320,000 for research, and $71,000 for employee retirement. Budgeted expenses for these items in 2006–07 were $1,000,000, $445,900, $320,000, and $67,000, respectively. Last season the industry shipped 2.6 million 25-pound cartons more than the Committee had anticipated, providing greater revenues than expected from assessments. The Committee’s 2006–07 expenses were $200,000 less than budgeted, and they utilized less from reserves than anticipated. The Committee also recommended a reduced budget 2007–08. Therefore, the Committee voted to recommend a reduced assessment rate. The Committee reviewed and unanimously recommended 2007–08 expenditures of $2,101,000, which included a decrease in the education and promotion budget. Prior to arriving at this budget, the Committee considered information from various sources, such as the Committee’s Executive Subcommittee, Finance Subcommittee, Research Subcommittee, and Education and Promotion Subcommittee. Alternative expenditure levels were discussed by these groups, based upon the relative value of various research projects to the tomato industry. The assessment rate of $0.0325 per 25pound carton of assessable tomatoes was then determined by dividing the total recommended budget, less carry-in and reserve revenues totaling $476,000, by the quantity of tomatoes, estimated at 50 million 25-pound cartons for the 2007–08 fiscal period. A review of historical information and preliminary information pertaining to the upcoming 2007–08 fiscal period indicates that the grower price for the 2007–08 season could range between $3.89 and $16.05 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2007–08 fiscal period as a percentage of total grower revenue could range between 0.2 and 0.8 percent. This action decreases 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 Florida tomato industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64125 Committee meetings, the August 23, 2007, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on this interim final rule, including the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses. This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Florida tomato 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. 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. After consideration of all relevant material presented, including the information and recommendation 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 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 2007–08 fiscal period began on August 1, 2007, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each fiscal period apply to all assessable tomatoes handled during such fiscal period; (2) this action decreases the assessment rate for assessable tomatoes beginning with the 2007–08 fiscal period; (3) handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended by the Committee at a public meeting and is similar to other assessment rate actions issued in past years; and (4) this interim final rule provides a 60-day comment E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 64126 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 220 / Thursday, November 15, 2007 / Rules and Regulations period, and all comments timely received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 966 Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Tomatoes. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 966 is amended as follows: I PART 966—TOMATOES GROWN IN FLORIDA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 966 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 966.234 is revised to read as follows: I § 966.234 Assessment rate. On and after August 1 2007, an assessment rate of $0.0325 per 25-pound carton is established for Florida tomatoes. Dated: November 8, 2007. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E7–22277 Filed 11–14–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 9 CFR Part 98 [Docket No. APHIS–2006–0120] RIN 0579–AC58 Importation of Sheep and Goat Semen Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. rfrederick on PROD1PC67 with RULES AGENCY: SUMMARY: We are amending the regulations regarding the importation of animal germplasm by removing specific restrictions on sheep semen from regions where scrapie exists and requiring the inclusion of additional information on the international health certificate accompanying sheep and goat semen. Experience and research have convinced us that sheep and goat semen pose a minimal risk of transmitting scrapie. This action will relieve restrictions on imported sheep semen while continuing to provide safeguards against the introduction and dissemination of scrapie. DATES: Effective Date: December 17, 2007. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:27 Nov 14, 2007 Jkt 214001 Dr. James P. Davis, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Technical Trade Services, National Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 39, Riverdale, MD 20737–1231; (301) 734– 0694. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Background On August 9, 2006, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (71 FR 45444–45447) in which we proposed to amend the regulations in 9 CFR part 98 regarding the importation of animal germplasm by removing specific restrictions on sheep semen from regions where scrapie exists and requiring the inclusion of additional information on the international health certificate accompanying sheep and goat semen. This action would relieve restrictions on imported sheep semen while continuing to provide safeguards against the introduction and dissemination of scrapie. Comments were required to be received by October 10, 2006. We received seven comments by that date, from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a sheep industry association, sheep breeders, and private citizens. One commenter supported the proposed rule as written. Another commenter stated that there should be a ban on all imports of animal semen into the United States, but did not offer specific comments on the provisions of the proposed rule. The remaining commenters were generally supportive of the proposed rule but made suggestions or raised issues about its provisions. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency stated that it believed Canada’s scrapie program is equivalent to the United States’ program and, therefore, sheep semen from Canada should be allowed to be imported without restrictions. The commenter stated that the risk of new strains of scrapie being introduced into the United States from Canada is minimal. As we stated in the proposed rule, in 1996, when the regulations allowing semen to be imported from Canada without restrictions were established, Canada had a scrapie control program that we regarded as equivalent to that in the United States. In 2001, however, the United States went from a control program to an eradication program which is now in full implementation. Canada has not conducted a scrapie prevalence study and does not conduct national slaughter surveillance for the disease. To fully evaluate Canada’s program we would need a complete description of the program, including PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 numbers and geographic representation of their surveillance and efforts to monitor for unusual strains. We are making no changes to the rule as a result of this comment. One commenter stated that semen imported from any country should be distributed only to flocks listed in the Scrapie National Database to provide for better traceability in the event of a disease outbreak. APHIS notes that semen imported from regions not recognized as scrapiefree—at this time, everywhere in the world except Australia and New Zealand—will still be required to be distributed only to listed flocks. We believe the new recordkeeping requirements for first generation (F1) progeny resulting from imported semen will provide sufficient information to conduct traceback investigations in the event of a disease outbreak. We are making no changes as a result of this comment. One commenter stated that the requirement that only flocks in the Scrapie Flock Certification Program may receive imported semen should be eliminated entirely. The intent of the proposed rule is to allow all flocks listed in the Scrapie National Database to use semen imported from anywhere in the world; there will be no restrictions on distribution of semen imported from regions recognized as scrapie-free. This does not unreasonably limit distribution of imported semen since there is a high compliance rate for flock premises listing through the National Scrapie Eradication Program, and because any flock may be listed by making a toll-free phone call. To further facilitate distribution of imported semen, we have added a provision in this final rule that allows imported semen to be further distributed to any other listed flock with written notification to the Veterinary Services area office. One commenter suggested that the identification and recordkeeping requirements for F1 progeny resulting from imported semen should be made a condition of the import permit rather than a separate agreement. The commenter further stated that APHIS should distribute special eartags for identifying F1 progeny at the time the permit is approved. The commenter stated that these suggestions would reduce the burden on both producers and APHIS. We agree with this commenter and have made changes in this final rule to incorporate these suggestions. Since there will be no written agreement separate from the permit, this final rule also includes a provision that APHIS E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 220 (Thursday, November 15, 2007)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64123-64126]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-22277]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 966

[Docket No. AMS-FV-07-0114; FV07-966-2 IFR]


Tomatoes Grown in Florida; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Florida Tomato Committee (Committee) for the 2007-08 and subsequent 
fiscal periods from $0.035 to $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes 
handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order which 
regulates the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida. Assessments upon 
tomato handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and 
necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal period begins August 1 
and ends July 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect 
indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.

DATES: Effective November 16, 2007. Comments received by January 14, 
2008, 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

[[Page 64124]]

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 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.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William G. Pimental, Marketing 
Specialist or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Manager, Southeast 
Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit 
and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324-3375 Fax: (863) 
325-8793, or E-mail: William.Pimental@usda.gov or 
Christian.Nissen@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. 125 and Order No. 966, both as amended (7 CFR part 966), 
regulating the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida, 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.''
    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, Florida tomato 
handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are 
derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate 
as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable tomatoes 
beginning August 1, 2007, 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 decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee for the 2007-08 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.035 per 
25-pound carton to $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes.
    The Florida tomato 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 of Florida 
tomatoes. 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 a public meeting. Thus, 
all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and 
provide input.
    For the 2006-07 and subsequent fiscal periods, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period 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 August 23, 2007, and unanimously recommended 
2007-08 expenditures of $2,101,000.00 and an assessment rate of $0.0325 
per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. In comparison, last year's budgeted 
expenditures were $2,193,700. The assessment rate of $0.0325 is $0.0025 
lower than the rate currently in effect. Last season the industry 
shipped 2.6 million 25-pound cartons more than the Committee had 
anticipated, providing greater revenues than expected from assessments. 
The Committee's 2006-07 expenses were $200,000 less than budgeted, and 
they utilized less from reserves than anticipated. The Committee also 
recommended a reduced budget for 2007-08. Therefore, the Committee 
voted to recommend a reduced assessment rate.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2007-08 
year include $900,000 for education and promotion, $467,000 for 
salaries, $320,000 for research, and $71,000 for employee retirement. 
Budgeted expenses for these items in 2006-07 were $1,000,000, $445,900, 
$320,000, and $67,000, respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
dividing anticipated expenses, less carry-in and reserve revenues 
totaling $476,000, by expected shipments of Florida tomatoes. Tomato 
shipments for the year are estimated at 50 million 25-pound cartons, 
which should provide $1,625,000 in assessment income. Income derived 
from handler assessments, along with interest income and funds from the 
Committee's authorized reserve will be adequate to cover budgeted 
expenses. Funds in the reserve (currently approximately $780,000) will 
be kept within the maximum permitted by Sec.  966.44 of the order, 
which states that excess funds cannot exceed one fiscal period's 
expenses.
    The assessment rate established in this rule will 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 is effective for an indefinite 
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
fiscal period 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 will evaluate Committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will 
be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's 2007-08 budget and those 
for subsequent fiscal periods will 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,

[[Page 64125]]

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.
    There are approximately 100 producers of tomatoes in the production 
area and approximately 70 handlers subject to regulation under the 
marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small 
Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual 
receipts less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are 
defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000.
    Based on industry and Committee data, the average annual price for 
fresh Florida tomatoes during the 2006-07 season was approximately 
$7.69 per 25-pound container, and total fresh shipments for the 2006-07 
season were 52,505,687 25-pound cartons of tomatoes. Committee data 
indicates that approximately 25 percent of the handlers handle 94 
percent of the total volume shipped outside the regulated area. Based 
on the average price, about 75 percent of handlers could be considered 
small businesses under SBA's definition. In addition, based on 
production data, grower prices as reported by the National Agricultural 
Statistics Service, and the total number of Florida tomato growers, the 
average annual grower revenue is below $750,000. Thus, the majority of 
handlers and producers of Florida tomatoes may be classified as small 
entities.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee and collected from handlers for the 2007-08 and subsequent 
fiscal periods from $0.035 to $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. 
The Committee unanimously recommended 2007-08 expenditures of 
$2,101,000 and an assessment rate of $0.0325 per 25-pound carton. The 
assessment rate of $0.0325 is $0.0025 lower than the 2006-07 rate. The 
quantity of assessable tomatoes for the 2007-08 season is estimated at 
50 million 25-pound cartons. Thus, the $0.0325 rate should provide 
$1,625,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler 
assessments, along with interest income and funds from the Committee's 
authorized reserve will be adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2007-08 
year include $900,000 for education and promotion, $467,000 for 
salaries, $320,000 for research, and $71,000 for employee retirement. 
Budgeted expenses for these items in 2006-07 were $1,000,000, $445,900, 
$320,000, and $67,000, respectively.
    Last season the industry shipped 2.6 million 25-pound cartons more 
than the Committee had anticipated, providing greater revenues than 
expected from assessments. The Committee's 2006-07 expenses were 
$200,000 less than budgeted, and they utilized less from reserves than 
anticipated. The Committee also recommended a reduced budget 2007-08. 
Therefore, the Committee voted to recommend a reduced assessment rate.
    The Committee reviewed and unanimously recommended 2007-08 
expenditures of $2,101,000, which included a decrease in the education 
and promotion budget. Prior to arriving at this budget, the Committee 
considered information from various sources, such as the Committee's 
Executive Subcommittee, Finance Subcommittee, Research Subcommittee, 
and Education and Promotion Subcommittee. Alternative expenditure 
levels were discussed by these groups, based upon the relative value of 
various research projects to the tomato industry. The assessment rate 
of $0.0325 per 25-pound carton of assessable tomatoes was then 
determined by dividing the total recommended budget, less carry-in and 
reserve revenues totaling $476,000, by the quantity of tomatoes, 
estimated at 50 million 25-pound cartons for the 2007-08 fiscal period.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information 
pertaining to the upcoming 2007-08 fiscal period indicates that the 
grower price for the 2007-08 season could range between $3.89 and 
$16.05 per 25-pound carton of tomatoes. Therefore, the estimated 
assessment revenue for the 2007-08 fiscal period as a percentage of 
total grower revenue could range between 0.2 and 0.8 percent.
    This action decreases 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 Florida tomato industry and all interested 
persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the August 
23, 2007, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested 
persons are invited to submit comments on this interim final rule, 
including the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on 
small businesses.
    This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large Florida tomato 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.
    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.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the information and recommendation 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 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 2007-08 fiscal period began on August 1, 
2007, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for 
each fiscal period apply to all assessable tomatoes handled during such 
fiscal period; (2) this action decreases the assessment rate for 
assessable tomatoes beginning with the 2007-08 fiscal period; (3) 
handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended by 
the Committee at a public meeting and is similar to other assessment 
rate actions issued in past years; and (4) this interim final rule 
provides a 60-day comment

[[Page 64126]]

period, and all comments timely received will be considered prior to 
finalization of this rule.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 966

    Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Tomatoes.


0
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 966 is amended as 
follows:

PART 966--TOMATOES GROWN IN FLORIDA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 966 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
2. Section 966.234 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  966.234  Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1 2007, an assessment rate of $0.0325 per 25-
pound carton is established for Florida tomatoes.

    Dated: November 8, 2007.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. E7-22277 Filed 11-14-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P