Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Revision of the Maturity Requirements, 69624-69628 [E7-23827]

Download as PDF 69624 Proposed Rules Federal Register Vol. 72, No. 236 Monday, December 10, 2007 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Parts 915 and 944 [Docket No. AMS–FV–07–0054; FV07–915– 2 PR] Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Revision of the Maturity Requirements Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: This rule would revise the maturity requirements currently prescribed for avocados grown in South Florida and for avocados imported into the United States that are shipped to the fresh market. The Avocado Administrative Committee (Committee) which locally administers the marketing order for avocados grown in South Florida recommended the change for Florida avocados. A corresponding change in the import regulation would also be required under section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 if this rule was implemented. This rule would require that avocados which fail the maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. This rule would help ensure only mature avocados are shipped to the fresh market. Comments must be received by February 8, 2008. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this proposal. Comments should 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 Internet: https://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the docket number and the date and page number rmajette on PROD1PC64 with PROPOSALS DATES: VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:31 Dec 07, 2007 Jkt 214001 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, respectively. 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 proposed rule is issued under Marketing Agreement No. 121 and Marketing Order No. 915, both as amended (7 CFR part 915), regulating the handling of avocados grown in South 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.’’ This proposed rule is also issued under section 8e of the Act, which provides that whenever certain specified commodities, including avocados, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of these commodities into the United States are prohibited unless they meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, or maturity requirements as those in effect for the domestically produced commodities. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This action is not intended to have retroactive effect. This proposed rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule. PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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. A 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. There are no administrative procedures which must be exhausted prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of import regulations issued under section 8e of the Act. This proposal invites comments on a revision to the maturity requirements currently prescribed under the order for avocados grown in South Florida. This rule would require that avocados which fail the maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. This action, unanimously recommended by the Committee, would help ensure that only mature avocados are shipped to the fresh market. Section 915.51 of the order provides the authority to issue regulations establishing specific maturity requirements for avocados grown in South Florida. Section 915.332 of the order’s rules and regulations establishes the requisite maturity requirements for avocados. The maturity requirements specify minimum weights, diameters, and shipping dates for approximately 60 different varieties of avocados. These dates and requirements are reflected in the avocado maturity schedule as it appears in Table I of § 915.332(a)(2). Under the terms of the marketing order, fresh market shipments of Florida avocados are required to be inspected and are subject to grade, pack, container, and maturity requirements. The maturity requirements are intended to prevent the shipment of immature E:\FR\FM\10DEP1.SGM 10DEP1 rmajette on PROD1PC64 with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2007 / Proposed Rules avocados to the fresh market. This helps to improve buyer confidence in the marketplace, and fosters increased consumption. This rule would change the way the maturity requirements are currently applied. Specifically, this rule would require avocados which fail maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection to meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. The maturity requirements for avocados are expressed in terms of minimum weights and diameters in conjunction with specific dates during the shipping season. Each regulated variety has its own set of dates and requirements on the maturity schedule. The maturity requirements for the various varieties are different because each variety has its own growing season and stages when the fruit is mature and ready to be harvested. With avocados, the level of maturity is determined by when the avocado is harvested. Because the maturity process ceases once the fruit is severed from the tree, an avocado needs to remain on the tree until it is mature. According to Paul Harding, a plant physiologist for the Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, the stage of maturity of the fruit when harvested is directly related to its palatability and is the most important factor that influences eating quality.1 Avocados which are not mature at the time of harvest will not ripen properly. Avocados that do not ripen properly can have an unpleasant taste and consistency which negatively affects customer satisfaction. Consequently, the dates on the maturity schedule have been carefully established based on years of testing to ensure avocados shipped using the schedule are mature enough to complete the ripening process. The maturity schedule is divided into A, B, C, and D dates which reflect the different stages of maturity associated with an individual variety. Larger sized fruit within a variety matures earlier, while smaller fruit needs to remain on the tree longer to reach maturity. Consequently, A dates are associated with larger sizes and are established early in the variety’s shipping season. For a majority of varieties, the schedule also includes B and C dates that fall somewhere in between the A and D dates for the particular variety. These dates proceed in stages as the season 1 Harding, Paul L. ‘‘The Relation of Maturity to Quality in Florida Avocados.’’ Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society 67 (1954):276– 280. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:31 Dec 07, 2007 Jkt 214001 advances, allowing for the shipment of progressively smaller sizes and weights as a variety matures. The D date marks the end of a variety’s marketing season and releases all remaining sizes for shipment to the fresh market. This gradual shift in the maturity standards from the beginning of the season to its end helps ensure that all sizes remain on the tree long enough to reach maturity. As an example, consider the Simmons variety. The A date for the Simmons is the Monday nearest June 20, and requires a minimum weight of 16 ounces or a minimum diameter of 39⁄16 inches for fruit shipped to the fresh market. The corresponding B date is the Monday nearest July 4, and reduces the minimum weight to 14 ounces or a minimum diameter of 37⁄16 inches. The C date is the Monday nearest to July 18, and further reduces the minimum weight and size requirements to 12 ounces or 31⁄16 inches, and the requirements end with a scheduled D date of the Monday nearest to August 1 when all remaining fruit of this variety can be shipped. Over the years, the maturity schedule has been determined to be the best indicator of maturity for the different varieties of avocados grown in Florida, and growers and handlers rely on the schedule in making harvesting, packing, and shipping decisions. The maturity schedule facilitates the shipment of the different varieties of avocados as they mature, and helps ensure that only mature fruit is shipped to the fresh market. This in turn helps promote consumer satisfaction which is essential for the successful marketing of the crop. Florida avocados are inspected for compliance with the rules and regulations established under the order, including the maturity requirements, by the Federal or Federal State Inspection Service. When a lot of avocados fails inspection, the handler has the opportunity to rework the lot to remove the fruit that caused the lot to fail. This usually entails removing any damaged or undersized fruit from the lot. Once the lot has been reworked, the lot is presented for reinspection. However, the Committee has discovered that in some cases where lots fail for maturity, handlers are only holding the avocados until the next date under the maturity schedule and then presenting them for reinspection to benefit from the reduced size and weight requirements rather than reworking the lots to remove undersized fruit. The Committee agreed this practice undermines the purpose of the maturity requirements and results in PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 69625 immature fruit being shipped to the fresh market. Committee members stated the maturity requirements were established to ensure that only mature avocados reach the fresh market. By allowing a handler to just hold the fruit until the next date on the maturity schedule, the overall maturity of the lot is not improved. Because the maturity process ends once the fruit is picked, fruit that fails to meet the maturity standards at the time of inspection will not develop in maturity while being held in the box. The only way to increase the overall maturity of the lot is to remove the fruit which caused the lot to fail at the time of inspection. The Committee believes allowing fruit that failed maturity requirements to be held until the next date on the maturity schedule without being reworked to remove undersized fruit permits immature fruit to be shipped to the fresh market. A lot that fails inspection for maturity can contain a significant amount of avocados which are undersized or underweight. Based on the schedule, this fruit was picked too soon, and most likely did not spend enough time on the tree to reach the proper level of maturity. Because this fruit is immature, it will frequently not ripen properly, and it would have a negative impact on the market and would likely result in the loss of future avocado sales. The requirements associated with the initial inspection correlate more closely with the time of picking and as such remain the best measure of the maturity of the lot. Consequently, the Committee agreed the maturity requirements specified on the schedule at the time of the original inspection should be the requirements applied when the avocados are presented for reinspection. With this change, when avocados fail inspection for maturity, the handler would continue to be allowed to immediately rework the lot to remove undersized and/or underweight fruit and present the lot for reinspection or hold the lot to rework it later. However, the reinspection would be conducted using the maturity requirements for the date the lot was originally presented for inspection regardless of when it is presented for reinspection. Even if a lot is held until the next date on the schedule, the requirements specified for the original inspection would still apply, and the avocados that caused the lot to fail would have to be removed before the lot would pass under a reinspection. This change would make sure undersized and underweight fruit would have to be removed before a lot could meet the necessary requirements E:\FR\FM\10DEP1.SGM 10DEP1 rmajette on PROD1PC64 with PROPOSALS 69626 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2007 / Proposed Rules which in turn should help further ensure that only mature fruit is being shipped to the fresh market. This change would also make the reinspection procedures for maturity requirements more consistent with those applied for grade requirements. The current grade requirement for avocados is a U.S. No. 2 and is constant throughout the year. The only way for a lot that fails for grade to meet the grade requirement is to have the fruit which caused the lot to fail removed. The Committee believes the process for handling avocados which fail the maturity requirements should be the same. Because the maturity level does not improve by just holding the avocados, the maturity requirements applied to that lot should remain constant as it does with grade. This change would ensure that undersized and underweight fruit are removed prior to reinspection, maintaining the benefits of the maturity schedule. Currently, when a lot of avocados fails inspection, the handler has the option to rework the lot, hold the fruit to be reworked at a later date, dump or destroy the fruit, send the fruit for processing, or donate it to charity. With this change, the handler would have the same options. However, fruit to be reworked for maturity would be segregated and placed under the supervision of the Federal or FederalState Inspection Service using their Positive Lot Identification (PLI) program to ensure the lot is reworked to meet the minimum maturity requirements specified at the time of the initial inspection. Once the lot, or any portion thereof, is reworked, the Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service would reinspect the avocados applying the maturity requirements for the date of the original inspection. Also, all fruit in the lot would need to be accounted for under this process. Therefore, only fruit meeting the initial maturity requirements would be allowed to be shipped to the fresh market. Section 8e of the Act provides that when certain domestically produced commodities, including avocados, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of that commodity must meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements. Since this rule would modify maturity requirements under the domestic handling regulations, a corresponding change to the avocado import maturity regulations must also be considered. Minimum grade, quality, and maturity requirements for avocados imported into the United States are currently in effect under § 944.31 (7 CFR 944.31). The maturity requirements are specified VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:31 Dec 07, 2007 Jkt 214001 in § 944.31(a)(2). The Hass, Fuerte, Zutano, and Edranol varieties of avocados are exempt from the maturity schedule, and would continue to be exempt under this rule. However, these varieties must meet the minimum grade requirement of a U.S. No. 2 for imported avocados, which would not be changed by this action. This proposal would require that imported avocados which fail the maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. With this change, fruit to be reworked for maturity would be segregated and placed under the supervision of the Federal or FederalState Inspection Service using their PLI program to ensure the lot is reworked to meet the minimum maturity requirements specified at the time of the initial inspection. Once the lot of avocados, or any portion thereof, is reworked, the Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service would reinspect the lot applying the maturity requirements for the date of the original inspection. In addition, all fruit in the lot would need to be accounted for under this process. This would help ensure only mature fruit that will ripen properly is shipped to the fresh market. Consumers prefer fruit that ripens properly. Thus, importers would also benefit from this change in maturity requirements. Import data for calendar years 2002 through 2006 reveals the major exporters of green-skin avocados to the United States are Mexico, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. Imports of greenskin avocados totaled approximately 10,163 metric tons in 2002, 13,770 metric tons in 2003, 8,729 metric tons in 2004, 12,411 metric tons in 2005, and 10,389 metric tons in 2006. The Dominican Republic is the largest supplier of green-skin avocados, accounting for approximately 98 percent of imports. 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 action 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 rules issued thereunder, are unique in that they are brought about PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 through group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf. Import regulations issued under the Act are based on those established under Federal marketing orders. There are approximately 300 producers of avocados in the production area and approximately 35 handlers subject to regulation under the order. There are approximately 65 importers of the type of avocados that are regulated under the order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms, which include avocado handlers and importers, are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201). According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service and Committee data, the average price for Florida avocados during the 2005–06 season was around $46.75 per 55-pound bushel container, and total shipments were near 470,000 55-pound bushel equivalents. Using the average price and shipment information provided by the Committee, the majority of avocado handlers have annual receipts of less than $6,500,000. In addition, based on avocado production, grower prices, and the total number of Florida avocado growers, the average annual grower revenue is less than $750,000. Based on information from the Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, the dollar value of imported avocados ranged from around $156.7 million in 2003 to $337.5 million in 2005. Using these numbers, the majority of avocado importers have annual receipts of less than $6,500,000. Consequently, the majority of avocado producers, handlers, and importers may be classified as small entities. This proposed rule, recommended by the Committee, would revise the maturity requirements currently prescribed for avocados grown in South Florida and for avocados imported into the United States that are shipped to the fresh market. This proposal would require that avocados which fail the maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. This rule would help ensure that only mature avocados are shipped to the fresh market. This rule would revise § 915.332, which specifies the requisite maturity requirements. Authority for this action is provided in § 915.51 of the order. This rule would also revise § 944.31, which specifies the maturity requirements for imported avocados. The change in the import E:\FR\FM\10DEP1.SGM 10DEP1 rmajette on PROD1PC64 with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2007 / Proposed Rules regulation is required under section 8e of the Act. This rule could result in some additional costs for handlers and importers. These costs would be associated primarily with the cost to rework the lot and the added inspection costs associated with having Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service supervision of lots that fail for maturity. However, these costs are expected to be minimal and should apply to no more than a few shipments each year as only a very small percentage of lots fail for maturity. The vast majority of handlers and importers are already reworking lots that fail for maturity to remove the undersized and underweight avocados that caused the lot to fail. Consequently, reworking lots which fail for maturity is already a standard practice for most of the industry, and as such would not represent an additional cost for most handlers and importers. In addition, this rule could encourage more careful spot picking to ensure that the avocados are of the proper size or weight to meet the requirements of the maturity schedule. However, spot picking is a standard industry practice, so this should not result in any additional cost. Therefore, in most cases, any additional costs resulting from this change would be from the added inspection costs associated with the Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service supervision of failing lots. Based on information provided by the Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service, the added cost would be based on the time it takes to apply the PLI program. For most handlers and importers, this should be accomplished in an hour or less. Consequently, the added cost would be based on the standard hourly rate charged by the Federal or FederalState Inspection Service. These costs could range from as low as $22.00 per hour to $64.00 per hour for a lot of avocados. In situations where a lot is reworked immediately, the handler or importer may not even accrue any additional charges. With average lot sizes ranging from approximately 100 55-pound cartons of avocados for a small lot to large lots containing approximately 800 55-pound cartons, and with avocados selling for a season average of around $46.75 per 55pound container, the cost of inspection would be a small percentage of the total value of the lot. Consequently, considering the possible added costs associated with this change, and the small number of lots affected, the overall costs associated with this rule are expected to be minimal. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:31 Dec 07, 2007 Jkt 214001 Florida avocado producers and handlers have found that the maturity requirements have been beneficial in the successful marketing of their avocado crop. Experience has shown when immature avocados are found in market channels, they tend to have a price depressing effect on the market and negatively affect repeat purchases. Preventing the shipment of immature avocados improves buyer confidence in the marketplace, and fosters increased consumption. This change is expected to provide added assurance that the avocados marketed are of satisfactory maturity and will ripen properly which is expected to further promote customer satisfaction. This proposal is expected to similarly impact importers of avocados. Nonexempt varieties of imported avocados have met the minimum weight or diameter maturity requirements in past seasons, and this is expected to continue. Thus, USDA believes this proposed change would not limit the quantity of imported avocados or place an undue burden on exporters, or importers of avocados. The marketplace price and quality benefits expected for Florida growers and handlers as a result of this proposal would also benefit exporters and importers of avocados. As most handlers and importers are already reworking lots which fail for maturity to remove undersized and underweight fruit, this change is not expected to impact the total number of avocado shipments. It is, however, expected to have a positive effect in the marketplace by helping to ensure only mature avocados are reaching the market which in turn should provide a strong price base for the industry. This proposed rule may impose some additional costs on producers, handlers, and importers. However, the costs are expected to be minimal, and would be offset by the benefits of the proposal. This proposed action would benefit consumers, producers, handlers, and importers by providing consumers with a better, more mature piece of fruit. The costs and benefits of this rule are not expected to be disproportionately greater or less significant for small entities than for large entities. One alternative to this action considered was to make no change. However, the Committee believes this was not an acceptable alternative as it could result in immature avocados reaching the fresh market. The Committee agreed that allowing immature avocados to reach the fresh market would be detrimental to the industry as a whole. Therefore, this alternative was rejected. PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 69627 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. This rule would not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large avocado handlers or importers. 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 proposed rule. Further, the Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the avocado industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like all Committee meetings, the meeting where this action was recommended 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 information on the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses. 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. In accordance with section 8e of the Act, the United States Trade Representative has concurred with the issuance of this proposed rule. A 60-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposal. All written comments timely received will be considered before a final determination is made on this matter. List of Subjects 7 CFR Part 915 Avocados, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 7 CFR Part 944 Avocados, Food grades and standards, Grapefruit, Grapes, Imports, Kiwifruit, Limes, Olives, Oranges. For the reasons set forth above, 7 CFR parts 915 and 944 are proposed to be amended as follows: E:\FR\FM\10DEP1.SGM 10DEP1 69628 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2007 / Proposed Rules Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). PART 915—AVOCADOS GROWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA ACTION: 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR parts 915 and 944 continues to read as follows: SUMMARY: We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for the products listed above. This proposed AD results from mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as: Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. A new paragraph (a)(3) is added to § 915.332 to read as follows: § 915.332 Florida avocado maturity regulation. (a) * * * (3) Avocados which fail to meet the maturity requirements specified in this section must be maintained under the supervision of the Federal or FederalState Inspection Service using the Positive Lot Identification program, and when presented for reinspection, must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. * * * * * PART 944—FRUITS; IMPORT REGULATIONS 3. A new paragraph (a)(3) is added to § 944.31 to read as follows: § 944.31 Avocado import maturity regulation. (a) * * * (3) Avocados which fail to meet the maturity requirements specified in this section must be maintained under the supervision of the Federal or FederalState Inspection Service using the Positive Lot Identification program, and when presented for reinspection, must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original inspection. * * * * * Dated: December 4, 2007. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E7–23827 Filed 12–7–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 rmajette on PROD1PC64 with PROPOSALS [Docket No. FAA–2007–0299; Directorate Identifier 2007–NM–239–AD] RIN 2120–AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Saab Model SAAB 2000 Airplanes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. AGENCY: VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:31 Dec 07, 2007 Jkt 214001 Subsequent to accidents involving Fuel Tank System explosions in flight * * * and on ground, the FAA has published Special Federal Aviation Regulation 88 (SFAR88) * * * [which] required * * * [conducting] a design review against explosion risks. The unsafe condition is the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane. The proposed AD would require actions that are intended to address the unsafe condition described in the MCAI. DATES: We must receive comments on this proposed AD by January 9, 2008. ADDRESSES: You may send comments by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Fax: (202) 493–2251. • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. • Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–40, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Examining the AD Docket You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at https:// www.regulations.gov; or in person at the Docket Operations office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone (800) 647–5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shahram Daneshmandi, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM– 116, Transport Airplane Directorate, PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057–3356; telephone (425) 227–1112; fax (425) 227–1149. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include ‘‘Docket No. FAA–2007–0299; Directorate Identifier 2007–NM–239–AD’’ at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments. We will post all comments we receive, without change, to https:// www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD. Discussion The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2007–0167, dated June 15, 2007 (referred to after this as ‘‘the MCAI’’), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states: Subsequent to accidents involving Fuel Tank System explosions in flight * * * and on ground, the FAA has published Special Federal Aviation Regulation 88 (SFAR88) in June 2001. In their Letters referenced 04/00/02/07/01– L296 dated March 4th, 2002 and 04/00/02/ 07/03–L024, dated February 3rd, 2003, the JAA (Joint Aviation Authorities) recommended the application of a similar regulation to the National Aviation Authorities (NAA). Under this regulation, all holders of type certificates for passenger transport aircraft with either a passenger capacity of 30 or more, or a payload capacity of 7,500 pounds (3402 kg) or more, which have received their certification since January 1st, 1958, are required to conduct a design review against explosion risks. This Airworthiness Directive (AD), which renders mandatory the modification [6089] of improving the sealing of Fuel Access Doors, is a consequence of the design review. The unsafe condition is the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane. Saab Modification 6089 includes removing the fuel tank access doors and the old type of clamp rings and gaskets; installing new, improved E:\FR\FM\10DEP1.SGM 10DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 236 (Monday, December 10, 2007)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 69624-69628]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-23827]



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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2007 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 69624]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Parts 915 and 944

[Docket No. AMS-FV-07-0054; FV07-915-2 PR]


Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Revision 
of the Maturity Requirements

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: This rule would revise the maturity requirements currently 
prescribed for avocados grown in South Florida and for avocados 
imported into the United States that are shipped to the fresh market. 
The Avocado Administrative Committee (Committee) which locally 
administers the marketing order for avocados grown in South Florida 
recommended the change for Florida avocados. A corresponding change in 
the import regulation would also be required under section 8e of the 
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 if this rule was 
implemented. This rule would require that avocados which fail the 
maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection 
must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the 
original inspection. This rule would help ensure only mature avocados 
are shipped to the fresh market.

DATES: Comments must be received by February 8, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this proposal. Comments should 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 Internet: https://www.regulations.gov. All 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, respectively.
    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 proposed rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 121 and Marketing Order No. 915, both as amended (7 CFR 
part 915), regulating the handling of avocados grown in South 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.''
    This proposed rule is also issued under section 8e of the Act, 
which provides that whenever certain specified commodities, including 
avocados, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of 
these commodities into the United States are prohibited unless they 
meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, or maturity 
requirements as those in effect for the domestically produced 
commodities.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. This action is not intended to have retroactive 
effect. This proposed 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. A 
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.
    There are no administrative procedures which must be exhausted 
prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of import regulations 
issued under section 8e of the Act.
    This proposal invites comments on a revision to the maturity 
requirements currently prescribed under the order for avocados grown in 
South Florida. This rule would require that avocados which fail the 
maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection 
must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the 
original inspection. This action, unanimously recommended by the 
Committee, would help ensure that only mature avocados are shipped to 
the fresh market.
    Section 915.51 of the order provides the authority to issue 
regulations establishing specific maturity requirements for avocados 
grown in South Florida. Section 915.332 of the order's rules and 
regulations establishes the requisite maturity requirements for 
avocados. The maturity requirements specify minimum weights, diameters, 
and shipping dates for approximately 60 different varieties of 
avocados. These dates and requirements are reflected in the avocado 
maturity schedule as it appears in Table I of Sec.  915.332(a)(2).
    Under the terms of the marketing order, fresh market shipments of 
Florida avocados are required to be inspected and are subject to grade, 
pack, container, and maturity requirements. The maturity requirements 
are intended to prevent the shipment of immature

[[Page 69625]]

avocados to the fresh market. This helps to improve buyer confidence in 
the marketplace, and fosters increased consumption.
    This rule would change the way the maturity requirements are 
currently applied. Specifically, this rule would require avocados which 
fail maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for 
reinspection to meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the 
date of the original inspection.
    The maturity requirements for avocados are expressed in terms of 
minimum weights and diameters in conjunction with specific dates during 
the shipping season. Each regulated variety has its own set of dates 
and requirements on the maturity schedule. The maturity requirements 
for the various varieties are different because each variety has its 
own growing season and stages when the fruit is mature and ready to be 
harvested.
    With avocados, the level of maturity is determined by when the 
avocado is harvested. Because the maturity process ceases once the 
fruit is severed from the tree, an avocado needs to remain on the tree 
until it is mature. According to Paul Harding, a plant physiologist for 
the Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, the stage of maturity of the 
fruit when harvested is directly related to its palatability and is the 
most important factor that influences eating quality.\1\ Avocados which 
are not mature at the time of harvest will not ripen properly. Avocados 
that do not ripen properly can have an unpleasant taste and consistency 
which negatively affects customer satisfaction. Consequently, the dates 
on the maturity schedule have been carefully established based on years 
of testing to ensure avocados shipped using the schedule are mature 
enough to complete the ripening process.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Harding, Paul L. ``The Relation of Maturity to Quality in 
Florida Avocados.'' Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural 
Society 67 (1954):276-280.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The maturity schedule is divided into A, B, C, and D dates which 
reflect the different stages of maturity associated with an individual 
variety. Larger sized fruit within a variety matures earlier, while 
smaller fruit needs to remain on the tree longer to reach maturity. 
Consequently, A dates are associated with larger sizes and are 
established early in the variety's shipping season. For a majority of 
varieties, the schedule also includes B and C dates that fall somewhere 
in between the A and D dates for the particular variety. These dates 
proceed in stages as the season advances, allowing for the shipment of 
progressively smaller sizes and weights as a variety matures. The D 
date marks the end of a variety's marketing season and releases all 
remaining sizes for shipment to the fresh market. This gradual shift in 
the maturity standards from the beginning of the season to its end 
helps ensure that all sizes remain on the tree long enough to reach 
maturity.
    As an example, consider the Simmons variety. The A date for the 
Simmons is the Monday nearest June 20, and requires a minimum weight of 
16 ounces or a minimum diameter of 3\9/16\ inches for fruit shipped to 
the fresh market. The corresponding B date is the Monday nearest July 
4, and reduces the minimum weight to 14 ounces or a minimum diameter of 
3\7/16\ inches. The C date is the Monday nearest to July 18, and 
further reduces the minimum weight and size requirements to 12 ounces 
or 3\1/16\ inches, and the requirements end with a scheduled D date of 
the Monday nearest to August 1 when all remaining fruit of this variety 
can be shipped.
    Over the years, the maturity schedule has been determined to be the 
best indicator of maturity for the different varieties of avocados 
grown in Florida, and growers and handlers rely on the schedule in 
making harvesting, packing, and shipping decisions. The maturity 
schedule facilitates the shipment of the different varieties of 
avocados as they mature, and helps ensure that only mature fruit is 
shipped to the fresh market. This in turn helps promote consumer 
satisfaction which is essential for the successful marketing of the 
crop.
    Florida avocados are inspected for compliance with the rules and 
regulations established under the order, including the maturity 
requirements, by the Federal or Federal State Inspection Service. When 
a lot of avocados fails inspection, the handler has the opportunity to 
rework the lot to remove the fruit that caused the lot to fail. This 
usually entails removing any damaged or undersized fruit from the lot. 
Once the lot has been reworked, the lot is presented for reinspection.
    However, the Committee has discovered that in some cases where lots 
fail for maturity, handlers are only holding the avocados until the 
next date under the maturity schedule and then presenting them for 
reinspection to benefit from the reduced size and weight requirements 
rather than reworking the lots to remove undersized fruit. The 
Committee agreed this practice undermines the purpose of the maturity 
requirements and results in immature fruit being shipped to the fresh 
market.
    Committee members stated the maturity requirements were established 
to ensure that only mature avocados reach the fresh market. By allowing 
a handler to just hold the fruit until the next date on the maturity 
schedule, the overall maturity of the lot is not improved. Because the 
maturity process ends once the fruit is picked, fruit that fails to 
meet the maturity standards at the time of inspection will not develop 
in maturity while being held in the box. The only way to increase the 
overall maturity of the lot is to remove the fruit which caused the lot 
to fail at the time of inspection.
    The Committee believes allowing fruit that failed maturity 
requirements to be held until the next date on the maturity schedule 
without being reworked to remove undersized fruit permits immature 
fruit to be shipped to the fresh market. A lot that fails inspection 
for maturity can contain a significant amount of avocados which are 
undersized or underweight. Based on the schedule, this fruit was picked 
too soon, and most likely did not spend enough time on the tree to 
reach the proper level of maturity. Because this fruit is immature, it 
will frequently not ripen properly, and it would have a negative impact 
on the market and would likely result in the loss of future avocado 
sales.
    The requirements associated with the initial inspection correlate 
more closely with the time of picking and as such remain the best 
measure of the maturity of the lot. Consequently, the Committee agreed 
the maturity requirements specified on the schedule at the time of the 
original inspection should be the requirements applied when the 
avocados are presented for reinspection.
    With this change, when avocados fail inspection for maturity, the 
handler would continue to be allowed to immediately rework the lot to 
remove undersized and/or underweight fruit and present the lot for 
reinspection or hold the lot to rework it later. However, the 
reinspection would be conducted using the maturity requirements for the 
date the lot was originally presented for inspection regardless of when 
it is presented for reinspection. Even if a lot is held until the next 
date on the schedule, the requirements specified for the original 
inspection would still apply, and the avocados that caused the lot to 
fail would have to be removed before the lot would pass under a 
reinspection. This change would make sure undersized and underweight 
fruit would have to be removed before a lot could meet the necessary 
requirements

[[Page 69626]]

which in turn should help further ensure that only mature fruit is 
being shipped to the fresh market.
    This change would also make the reinspection procedures for 
maturity requirements more consistent with those applied for grade 
requirements. The current grade requirement for avocados is a U.S. No. 
2 and is constant throughout the year. The only way for a lot that 
fails for grade to meet the grade requirement is to have the fruit 
which caused the lot to fail removed. The Committee believes the 
process for handling avocados which fail the maturity requirements 
should be the same. Because the maturity level does not improve by just 
holding the avocados, the maturity requirements applied to that lot 
should remain constant as it does with grade. This change would ensure 
that undersized and underweight fruit are removed prior to 
reinspection, maintaining the benefits of the maturity schedule.
    Currently, when a lot of avocados fails inspection, the handler has 
the option to rework the lot, hold the fruit to be reworked at a later 
date, dump or destroy the fruit, send the fruit for processing, or 
donate it to charity. With this change, the handler would have the same 
options. However, fruit to be reworked for maturity would be segregated 
and placed under the supervision of the Federal or Federal-State 
Inspection Service using their Positive Lot Identification (PLI) 
program to ensure the lot is reworked to meet the minimum maturity 
requirements specified at the time of the initial inspection. Once the 
lot, or any portion thereof, is reworked, the Federal or Federal-State 
Inspection Service would reinspect the avocados applying the maturity 
requirements for the date of the original inspection. Also, all fruit 
in the lot would need to be accounted for under this process. 
Therefore, only fruit meeting the initial maturity requirements would 
be allowed to be shipped to the fresh market.
    Section 8e of the Act provides that when certain domestically 
produced commodities, including avocados, are regulated under a Federal 
marketing order, imports of that commodity must meet the same or 
comparable grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements. Since this 
rule would modify maturity requirements under the domestic handling 
regulations, a corresponding change to the avocado import maturity 
regulations must also be considered.
    Minimum grade, quality, and maturity requirements for avocados 
imported into the United States are currently in effect under Sec.  
944.31 (7 CFR 944.31). The maturity requirements are specified in Sec.  
944.31(a)(2). The Hass, Fuerte, Zutano, and Edranol varieties of 
avocados are exempt from the maturity schedule, and would continue to 
be exempt under this rule. However, these varieties must meet the 
minimum grade requirement of a U.S. No. 2 for imported avocados, which 
would not be changed by this action.
    This proposal would require that imported avocados which fail the 
maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for reinspection 
must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the 
original inspection. With this change, fruit to be reworked for 
maturity would be segregated and placed under the supervision of the 
Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service using their PLI program to 
ensure the lot is reworked to meet the minimum maturity requirements 
specified at the time of the initial inspection.
    Once the lot of avocados, or any portion thereof, is reworked, the 
Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service would reinspect the lot 
applying the maturity requirements for the date of the original 
inspection. In addition, all fruit in the lot would need to be 
accounted for under this process. This would help ensure only mature 
fruit that will ripen properly is shipped to the fresh market. 
Consumers prefer fruit that ripens properly. Thus, importers would also 
benefit from this change in maturity requirements.
    Import data for calendar years 2002 through 2006 reveals the major 
exporters of green-skin avocados to the United States are Mexico, 
Chile, and the Dominican Republic. Imports of green-skin avocados 
totaled approximately 10,163 metric tons in 2002, 13,770 metric tons in 
2003, 8,729 metric tons in 2004, 12,411 metric tons in 2005, and 10,389 
metric tons in 2006. The Dominican Republic is the largest supplier of 
green-skin avocados, accounting for approximately 98 percent of 
imports.

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 action 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 rules issued thereunder, are unique in that 
they are brought about through group action of essentially small 
entities acting on their own behalf. Import regulations issued under 
the Act are based on those established under Federal marketing orders.
    There are approximately 300 producers of avocados in the production 
area and approximately 35 handlers subject to regulation under the 
order. There are approximately 65 importers of the type of avocados 
that are regulated under the order. Small agricultural producers are 
defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having 
annual receipts of less than $750,000, and small agricultural service 
firms, which include avocado handlers and importers, are defined as 
those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service and 
Committee data, the average price for Florida avocados during the 2005-
06 season was around $46.75 per 55-pound bushel container, and total 
shipments were near 470,000 55-pound bushel equivalents. Using the 
average price and shipment information provided by the Committee, the 
majority of avocado handlers have annual receipts of less than 
$6,500,000. In addition, based on avocado production, grower prices, 
and the total number of Florida avocado growers, the average annual 
grower revenue is less than $750,000. Based on information from the 
Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, the dollar value of imported 
avocados ranged from around $156.7 million in 2003 to $337.5 million in 
2005. Using these numbers, the majority of avocado importers have 
annual receipts of less than $6,500,000. Consequently, the majority of 
avocado producers, handlers, and importers may be classified as small 
entities.
    This proposed rule, recommended by the Committee, would revise the 
maturity requirements currently prescribed for avocados grown in South 
Florida and for avocados imported into the United States that are 
shipped to the fresh market. This proposal would require that avocados 
which fail the maturity requirements and are reworked and presented for 
reinspection must meet the maturity requirements which correspond to 
the date of the original inspection. This rule would help ensure that 
only mature avocados are shipped to the fresh market. This rule would 
revise Sec.  915.332, which specifies the requisite maturity 
requirements. Authority for this action is provided in Sec.  915.51 of 
the order. This rule would also revise Sec.  944.31, which specifies 
the maturity requirements for imported avocados. The change in the 
import

[[Page 69627]]

regulation is required under section 8e of the Act.
    This rule could result in some additional costs for handlers and 
importers. These costs would be associated primarily with the cost to 
rework the lot and the added inspection costs associated with having 
Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service supervision of lots that 
fail for maturity. However, these costs are expected to be minimal and 
should apply to no more than a few shipments each year as only a very 
small percentage of lots fail for maturity.
    The vast majority of handlers and importers are already reworking 
lots that fail for maturity to remove the undersized and underweight 
avocados that caused the lot to fail. Consequently, reworking lots 
which fail for maturity is already a standard practice for most of the 
industry, and as such would not represent an additional cost for most 
handlers and importers.
    In addition, this rule could encourage more careful spot picking to 
ensure that the avocados are of the proper size or weight to meet the 
requirements of the maturity schedule. However, spot picking is a 
standard industry practice, so this should not result in any additional 
cost.
    Therefore, in most cases, any additional costs resulting from this 
change would be from the added inspection costs associated with the 
Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service supervision of failing 
lots. Based on information provided by the Federal or Federal-State 
Inspection Service, the added cost would be based on the time it takes 
to apply the PLI program. For most handlers and importers, this should 
be accomplished in an hour or less. Consequently, the added cost would 
be based on the standard hourly rate charged by the Federal or Federal-
State Inspection Service. These costs could range from as low as $22.00 
per hour to $64.00 per hour for a lot of avocados. In situations where 
a lot is reworked immediately, the handler or importer may not even 
accrue any additional charges.
    With average lot sizes ranging from approximately 100 55-pound 
cartons of avocados for a small lot to large lots containing 
approximately 800 55-pound cartons, and with avocados selling for a 
season average of around $46.75 per 55-pound container, the cost of 
inspection would be a small percentage of the total value of the lot. 
Consequently, considering the possible added costs associated with this 
change, and the small number of lots affected, the overall costs 
associated with this rule are expected to be minimal.
    Florida avocado producers and handlers have found that the maturity 
requirements have been beneficial in the successful marketing of their 
avocado crop. Experience has shown when immature avocados are found in 
market channels, they tend to have a price depressing effect on the 
market and negatively affect repeat purchases. Preventing the shipment 
of immature avocados improves buyer confidence in the marketplace, and 
fosters increased consumption. This change is expected to provide added 
assurance that the avocados marketed are of satisfactory maturity and 
will ripen properly which is expected to further promote customer 
satisfaction.
    This proposal is expected to similarly impact importers of 
avocados. Non-exempt varieties of imported avocados have met the 
minimum weight or diameter maturity requirements in past seasons, and 
this is expected to continue. Thus, USDA believes this proposed change 
would not limit the quantity of imported avocados or place an undue 
burden on exporters, or importers of avocados. The marketplace price 
and quality benefits expected for Florida growers and handlers as a 
result of this proposal would also benefit exporters and importers of 
avocados.
    As most handlers and importers are already reworking lots which 
fail for maturity to remove undersized and underweight fruit, this 
change is not expected to impact the total number of avocado shipments. 
It is, however, expected to have a positive effect in the marketplace 
by helping to ensure only mature avocados are reaching the market which 
in turn should provide a strong price base for the industry.
    This proposed rule may impose some additional costs on producers, 
handlers, and importers. However, the costs are expected to be minimal, 
and would be offset by the benefits of the proposal. This proposed 
action would benefit consumers, producers, handlers, and importers by 
providing consumers with a better, more mature piece of fruit. The 
costs and benefits of this rule are not expected to be 
disproportionately greater or less significant for small entities than 
for large entities.
    One alternative to this action considered was to make no change. 
However, the Committee believes this was not an acceptable alternative 
as it could result in immature avocados reaching the fresh market. The 
Committee agreed that allowing immature avocados to reach the fresh 
market would be detrimental to the industry as a whole. Therefore, this 
alternative was rejected.
    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.
    This rule would not impose any additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large avocado handlers or 
importers. 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 proposed rule.
    Further, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout 
the avocado industry and all interested persons were invited to attend 
the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like all 
Committee meetings, the meeting where this action was recommended 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 information on the regulatory and informational impacts of this 
action on small businesses.
    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.
    In accordance with section 8e of the Act, the United States Trade 
Representative has concurred with the issuance of this proposed rule.
    A 60-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to 
respond to this proposal. All written comments timely received will be 
considered before a final determination is made on this matter.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 915

    Avocados, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

7 CFR Part 944

    Avocados, Food grades and standards, Grapefruit, Grapes, Imports, 
Kiwifruit, Limes, Olives, Oranges.

    For the reasons set forth above, 7 CFR parts 915 and 944 are 
proposed to be amended as follows:

[[Page 69628]]

PART 915--AVOCADOS GROWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR parts 915 and 944 continues to 
read as follows:

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

    2. A new paragraph (a)(3) is added to Sec.  915.332 to read as 
follows:


Sec.  915.332  Florida avocado maturity regulation.

    (a) * * *
    (3) Avocados which fail to meet the maturity requirements specified 
in this section must be maintained under the supervision of the Federal 
or Federal-State Inspection Service using the Positive Lot 
Identification program, and when presented for reinspection, must meet 
the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original 
inspection.
* * * * *

PART 944--FRUITS; IMPORT REGULATIONS

    3. A new paragraph (a)(3) is added to Sec.  944.31 to read as 
follows:


Sec.  944.31  Avocado import maturity regulation.

    (a) * * *
    (3) Avocados which fail to meet the maturity requirements specified 
in this section must be maintained under the supervision of the Federal 
or Federal-State Inspection Service using the Positive Lot 
Identification program, and when presented for reinspection, must meet 
the maturity requirements which correspond to the date of the original 
inspection.
* * * * *

    Dated: December 4, 2007.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
 [FR Doc. E7-23827 Filed 12-7-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P