Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate, 50191-50194 [E8-19695]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 26, 2008 / Rules and Regulations participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the May 29, 2008, 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 California date handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. 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/ AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do? template=TemplateN&page= MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address in the sroberts on PROD1PC76 with RULES 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 2008–09 crop year begins on October 1, 2008, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each crop year applies to all assessable dates handled during such crop year; (2) the action decreases the assessment rate for assessable dates beginning with the 2008–09 crop year; (3) handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:06 Aug 25, 2008 Jkt 214001 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 period, and all comments timely received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 987 Dates, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. I For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 987 is amended as follows: PART 987—DATES PRODUCED OR PACKED IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 987 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 987.339 is revised to read as follows: I § 987.339 Assessment rate. On and after October 1, 2008, an assessment rate of $0.60 per hundredweight is established for California dates. Dated: August 20, 2008. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E8–19697 Filed 8–25–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 993 [Docket No. AMS–FV–08–0060; FV08–993– 1 IFR] Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 2008–09 and subsequent crop years from $0.60 to $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. The Committee locally administers the marketing order that regulates the handling of dried prunes in California. Assessments upon dried prune handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The crop year began PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 50191 August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Effective August 27, 2008. Comments received by October 27, 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 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: http:// 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: http://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maureen Pello, Assistant Regional Manager, or Kurt Kimmel, Regional Manager, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487– 5901, Fax: (559) 487–5906; or E-mail: Maureen.Pello@usda.gov or Kurt.Kimmel@usda.gov. Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Telephone: (202) 720– 2491, Fax: (202) 720–8938, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement No. 110 and Marketing Order No. 993, both as amended (7 CFR part 993), regulating the handling of dried prunes grown in California, hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘order.’’ The marketing agreement and order are effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601– 674), hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘Act.’’ The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866. This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California dried prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are derived from such assessments. It is C:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1 sroberts on PROD1PC76 with RULES 50192 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 26, 2008 / Rules and Regulations intended that the assessment rate as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable dried prunes beginning on August 1, 2008, 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 2008–09 and subsequent crop years from $0.60 to $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes handled. The California dried prune marketing order provides authority for the Committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the program. The members of the Committee are producers of California dried prunes. They are familiar with the Committee’s needs and with the costs for goods and services in their local area and are thus in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. The assessment rate is formulated and discussed at a public meeting. Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input. For the 2007–08 and subsequent crop years, the Committee recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue in effect from crop year to crop year unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other information available to USDA. The Committee met on June 26, 2008, and unanimously recommended an assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes and expenditures totaling $51,587 for the 2008–09 crop VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:06 Aug 25, 2008 Jkt 214001 year. In comparison, last year’s approved expenses were $102,523. The assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes is one-half of the rate currently in effect. The Committee recommended a lower assessment rate because the 2008–09 crop is estimated at 120,000 tons, which is over 35,000 tons larger than the 2007– 08 crop. Income generated from the lower assessment rate combined with excess assessment income carried into the new crop year should be adequate to cover the Committee’s 2008–09 expenses. The Committee’s budget of expenses of $51,587 includes a decrease in personnel expenses, and a slight decrease in operating expenses. Combined salaries and expenses are almost 50 percent lower than last year, or about $26,248. The Committee also included $12,446 for contingencies. Most of the Committee’s expenses reflect its portion of the joint administrative costs of the Committee and the California Dried Plum Board (CDPB). Based on the Committee’s reduced activities in recent years, it is funding only 5 percent of the shared expenses of the two programs. This level was reduced from last year’s level of 10 percent to reflect a more accurate figure. The Committee believes that extra assessment income carried in from the 2007 crop year, plus interest income and 2008 assessment income, is adequate to cover its estimated expenses of $51,587. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2008–09 crop year include $26,248 for salaries and benefits, $12,893 for operating expenses, and $12,446 for contingencies. For the 2007–08 crop year, the Committee’s budgeted expenses were $50,505 for salaries and benefits, $15,075 for operating expenses, and $36,943 for contingencies. The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by considering the handler assessment revenue needed to meet anticipated expenses, the estimated salable tons of California dried prunes, excess funds carried forward into the 2008–09 crop year, and estimated income from other sources such as interest. Dried prune production for the year is estimated to be 120,000 salable tons, which should provide $36,000 in assessment income at $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. Income derived from handler assessments, plus excess funds from the 2007–08 crop year should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. The Committee is authorized under § 993.81(c) of the order to use excess assessment funds from the 2007–08 crop PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 year (currently estimated at $15,487) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop year to meet 2008–09 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, the Committee either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers. The assessment rate established in this rule is effective indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other available information. Although this assessment rate will be in effect for an indefinite period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA will evaluate the Committee’s recommendations and other available information to determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will be undertaken as necessary. The Committees’ 2008–09 budget and those for subsequent crop years 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, 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 800 producers of dried prunes in the production area and approximately 22 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. The Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) defines small agricultural producers as those whose annual receipts are less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000. Committee data indicates that about 64 percent of the handlers ship under $6,500,000 worth of dried prunes. C:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1 sroberts on PROD1PC76 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 26, 2008 / Rules and Regulations Dividing the average prune crop value for 2007–08 reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of $111,650,000 by the number of producers (800) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of about $139,562. Based on the foregoing, the majority of handlers and dried prune producers may be classified as small entities. This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2008–09 and subsequent crop years from $0.60 to $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. The Committee met on June 26, 2008, and unanimously recommended estimated expenses for 2008–09 of $51,587 and a decreased assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. The Committee’s recommended budget was based on a decrease in personnel expenses and a decrease in operating expenses. Combined salaries and expenses are almost 50 percent lower than last year, or about $26,248. The Committee also included $12,446 for contingencies. Most of the Committee’s expenses reflect its portion of the joint administrative costs of the Committee and the CDPB. Based on the Committee’s reduced activities in recent years, it is funding only 5 percent of the shared expenses of the two programs. This level was reduced from last year’s level of 10 percent to reflect a more accurate figure. The Committee believes that extra assessment income carried in from the 2007 crop year, plus interest income and 2008 assessment income, is adequate to cover its estimated expenses of $51,587. The assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes is one-half of the rate currently in effect. The quantity of salable dried prunes for the 2008–09 crop year is currently estimated at 120,000 tons, compared to 95,000 tons of salable dried prunes for the 2007–08 crop year. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2008–09 crop year include $26,248 for salaries and benefits, $12,893 for operating expenses, and $12,446 for contingencies. Budgeted expenses for these items in 2007–08 were $50,505 for salaries and benefits, $15,075 for operating expenses, and $36,943 for contingencies. The 2008–09 assessment rate was derived by considering the handler assessment revenue needed to meet anticipated expenses, the estimated salable tons of California dried prunes, excess funds carried forward into the 2008–09 crop year, and estimated income from other sources such as interest. Therefore, the Committee VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:06 Aug 25, 2008 Jkt 214001 recommended an assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. Prior to arriving at its budget of $51,587, the Committee considered information from various sources, including the Committee’s Executive Subcommittee. The Executive Subcommittee reviewed the administrative expenses shared between the Committee and the CDPB in recent years. Accordingly, the Executive Subcommittee recommended reducing the share of expenses allocated to the Committee from 10 to 5 percent. The Executive Subcommittee then recommended the $51,587 budget and $0.30 per ton assessment rate to the Committee. The Committee recommended the same budget and assessment rate to USDA. Section 993.81(c) of the order provides the Committee the authority to use excess assessment funds from the 2007–08 crop year (estimated at $15,487) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop year to meet 2008–09 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, the Committee either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers. To calculate the percentage of grower revenue represented by the assessment rate for 2007, the assessment rate of $0.60 per ton is divided by the estimated average grower price (according to the NASS). This results in estimated assessment revenue for the 2007–08 crop year as a percentage of grower revenue of.05 percent ($0.60 divided by $1,450 per ton). NASS data for 2008 is not yet available. However, applying the same calculations above using the average grower price for 2005– 07 would result in estimated assessment revenue as a percentage of total grower revenue of.02 percent for the 2008–09 crop year ($0.30 divided by $1,437 per ton). Thus, the assessment revenue should be well below 1 percent of estimated grower revenue in 2008. 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 California dried prune industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 26, 2008, 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, PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 50193 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 California dried prune handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. 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/ AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplate Data.do?template= TemplateN&page=Marketing OrdersSmallBusinessGuide. 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 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 the 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 2008–09 crop year began on August 1, 2008, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each year apply to all assessable prunes handled during the year; (2) this action decreases the assessment rate for assessable prunes beginning with the 2008–09 crop year; (3) handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended at a public meeting and is similar to actions recommended by the Committee in past years, and (4) this interim final rule provides for a 60-day comment period, and all comments timely received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule. C:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1 50194 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 26, 2008 / Rules and Regulations List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993 Marketing agreements, Plums, Prunes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. I For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is amended as follows: PART 993—DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows: I § 993.347 Assessment rate. On and after August 1, 2008, an assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes. Dated: August 20, 2008. Lloyd C. Day, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E8–19695 Filed 8–25–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF STATE 22 CFR Part 40 [Public Notice: 6328] RIN 1400–AC04 Were comments solicited in the Departments Interim rule? Yes, the Department solicited comments; however, no comments were received. The final rule is unchanged from the interim rule which amended the Departments regulations at 22 CFR 40.104, published in the Federal Register on June 21, 2005 (70 FR 35526– 35527). The interim rule is hereby adopted as final. Dated: August 14, 2008. Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Department of State. [FR Doc. E8–19755 Filed 8–25–08; 8:45 am] Aliens Inadmissible Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended: Unlawful Voters Department of State. Final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: Act amended Section 212(a)(10) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by adding an exception to the ground of inadmissibility, INA 212(a)(10)(D), for aliens who voted in violation of the U.S. law. Under INA 212(a)(10)(D), in general, an alien will continue to be inadmissible, and therefore, ineligible for a visa, if the alien has voted in violation of any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation. Nevertheless, pursuant to the new exception, the alien shall not be considered to be inadmissible under any provision of this subsection based on such violation if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or she was a citizen. BILLING CODE 4710–06–P This rule adopts as final the Department interim rule which amended the regulations concerning visa ineligibility for aliens who vote unlawfully. The amendment was necessary to comply with the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. DATES: This rule is effective August 26, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Penafrancia D. Salas, Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520–0106, (202) 663–2878. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: sroberts on PROD1PC76 with RULES What is the Authority and Exception for this rule? On June 21, 2005, the Department published an interim rule [70 FR 35526] that implemented Section 201(b)(1) of Public Law 106–395, Child Citizenship Act of 2000 [February 27, 2001]. This VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:06 Aug 25, 2008 Jkt 214001 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Highway Administration 23 CFR Part 630 [FHWA Docket No. FHWA–2007–0020] RIN 2125–AF23 Advance Construction of Federal-Aid Projects Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The FHWA is revising its regulation for advance construction of Federal-aid projects by: (a) Removing the restriction that a State must obligate all of its allocated or apportioned funds, or demonstrate that it will use all obligation authority allocated to it for PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Federal-aid highways and highway safety construction, prior to the approval of advance construction projects; and (b) clarifying that advance construction procedures may be used for all categories of Federal-aid highway funds, and that any available Federalaid funds for which a project is eligible may be used when a project is converted to a Federal-aid project. These revisions make the regulation consistent with the advance construction statute, which was amended by a provision enacted in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA–LU). DATES: Effective Date: September 25, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Dale Gray, Federal-aid Financial Management Division, (202) 366–0978, or Mr. Steven Rochlis, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366–1395, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic Access An electronic copy of the NPRM, the comments received and a copy of this document may be viewed at www.regulations.gov. A copy of this document may also be downloaded by accessing the Office of the Federal Register’s home page at: http:// www.archives.gov or the Government Printing Office’s Web page at http:// www.gpoaccess.gov/nara. Background Section 115 of title 23, United States Code, permits the Secretary to authorize States to advance the construction of Federal-aid highway projects without requiring that Federal funds be obligated at the time the FHWA approves a project. The State may proceed with an advance construction project using State funds as no present or future Federal funds are actually committed to the project. At any time the State may request that the project be converted to a Federal-aid project provided that sufficient Federal-aid funds and obligation authority are available. A State also may request a partial conversion where only a portion of the Federal share of project costs is obligated and reimbursed; and the remainder may be converted at a later time provided that funds and associated obligation authority are available. Only the amount converted to a Federal-aid project becomes an obligation of the Federal Government. C:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 166 (Tuesday, August 26, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 50191-50194]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-19695]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 993

[Docket No. AMS-FV-08-0060; FV08-993-1 IFR]


Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) for the 2008-09 and subsequent 
crop years from $0.60 to $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. The 
Committee locally administers the marketing order that regulates the 
handling of dried prunes in California. Assessments upon dried prune 
handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary 
expenses of the program. The crop year began August 1 and ends July 31. 
The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, 
suspended, or terminated.

DATES: Effective August 27, 2008. Comments received by October 27, 
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 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: http://
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: http://
www.regulations.gov.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 110 and Marketing Order No. 993, both as amended (7 CFR 
part 993), regulating the handling of dried prunes grown in California, 
hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' The marketing agreement and 
order are effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 
1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the 
``Act.''
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California 
dried prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer 
the order are derived from such assessments. It is

[[Page 50192]]

intended that the assessment rate as issued herein will be applicable 
to all assessable dried prunes beginning on August 1, 2008, 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 2008-09 and subsequent crop years from $0.60 to $0.30 
per ton of salable dried prunes handled.
    The California dried prune marketing order provides authority for 
the Committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget 
of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the 
program. The members of the Committee are producers of California dried 
prunes. They are familiar with the Committee's needs and with the costs 
for goods and services in their local area and are thus in a position 
to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. The assessment 
rate is formulated and discussed at a public meeting. Thus, all 
directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and 
provide input.
    For the 2007-08 and subsequent crop years, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from crop year to crop year unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the 
Committee or other information available to USDA.
    The Committee met on June 26, 2008, and unanimously recommended an 
assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes and 
expenditures totaling $51,587 for the 2008-09 crop year. In comparison, 
last year's approved expenses were $102,523. The assessment rate of 
$0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes is one-half of the rate currently 
in effect.
    The Committee recommended a lower assessment rate because the 2008-
09 crop is estimated at 120,000 tons, which is over 35,000 tons larger 
than the 2007-08 crop. Income generated from the lower assessment rate 
combined with excess assessment income carried into the new crop year 
should be adequate to cover the Committee's 2008-09 expenses.
    The Committee's budget of expenses of $51,587 includes a decrease 
in personnel expenses, and a slight decrease in operating expenses. 
Combined salaries and expenses are almost 50 percent lower than last 
year, or about $26,248. The Committee also included $12,446 for 
contingencies. Most of the Committee's expenses reflect its portion of 
the joint administrative costs of the Committee and the California 
Dried Plum Board (CDPB). Based on the Committee's reduced activities in 
recent years, it is funding only 5 percent of the shared expenses of 
the two programs. This level was reduced from last year's level of 10 
percent to reflect a more accurate figure. The Committee believes that 
extra assessment income carried in from the 2007 crop year, plus 
interest income and 2008 assessment income, is adequate to cover its 
estimated expenses of $51,587.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2008-09 
crop year include $26,248 for salaries and benefits, $12,893 for 
operating expenses, and $12,446 for contingencies. For the 2007-08 crop 
year, the Committee's budgeted expenses were $50,505 for salaries and 
benefits, $15,075 for operating expenses, and $36,943 for 
contingencies.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
considering the handler assessment revenue needed to meet anticipated 
expenses, the estimated salable tons of California dried prunes, excess 
funds carried forward into the 2008-09 crop year, and estimated income 
from other sources such as interest. Dried prune production for the 
year is estimated to be 120,000 salable tons, which should provide 
$36,000 in assessment income at $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. 
Income derived from handler assessments, plus excess funds from the 
2007-08 crop year should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    The Committee is authorized under Sec.  993.81(c) of the order to 
use excess assessment funds from the 2007-08 crop year (currently 
estimated at $15,487) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop 
year to meet 2008-09 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, 
the Committee either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers.
    The assessment rate established in this rule is effective 
indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon 
recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other 
available information.
    Although this assessment rate will be in effect for an indefinite 
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and 
times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. 
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may 
express their views at these meetings. USDA will evaluate the 
Committee's recommendations and other available information to 
determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. 
Further rulemaking will be undertaken as necessary. The Committees' 
2008-09 budget and those for subsequent crop years 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, 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 800 producers of dried prunes in the 
production area and approximately 22 handlers subject to regulation 
under the marketing order. The Small Business Administration (13 CFR 
121.201) defines small agricultural producers as those whose annual 
receipts are less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms 
are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000.
    Committee data indicates that about 64 percent of the handlers ship 
under $6,500,000 worth of dried prunes.

[[Page 50193]]

Dividing the average prune crop value for 2007-08 reported by the 
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of $111,650,000 by the 
number of producers (800) yields an average annual producer revenue 
estimate of about $139,562. Based on the foregoing, the majority of 
handlers and dried prune producers may be classified as small entities.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee and collected from handlers for the 2008-09 and subsequent 
crop years from $0.60 to $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes.
    The Committee met on June 26, 2008, and unanimously recommended 
estimated expenses for 2008-09 of $51,587 and a decreased assessment 
rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes. The Committee's 
recommended budget was based on a decrease in personnel expenses and a 
decrease in operating expenses. Combined salaries and expenses are 
almost 50 percent lower than last year, or about $26,248. The Committee 
also included $12,446 for contingencies. Most of the Committee's 
expenses reflect its portion of the joint administrative costs of the 
Committee and the CDPB. Based on the Committee's reduced activities in 
recent years, it is funding only 5 percent of the shared expenses of 
the two programs. This level was reduced from last year's level of 10 
percent to reflect a more accurate figure. The Committee believes that 
extra assessment income carried in from the 2007 crop year, plus 
interest income and 2008 assessment income, is adequate to cover its 
estimated expenses of $51,587.
    The assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes is 
one-half of the rate currently in effect. The quantity of salable dried 
prunes for the 2008-09 crop year is currently estimated at 120,000 
tons, compared to 95,000 tons of salable dried prunes for the 2007-08 
crop year.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2008-09 
crop year include $26,248 for salaries and benefits, $12,893 for 
operating expenses, and $12,446 for contingencies. Budgeted expenses 
for these items in 2007-08 were $50,505 for salaries and benefits, 
$15,075 for operating expenses, and $36,943 for contingencies.
    The 2008-09 assessment rate was derived by considering the handler 
assessment revenue needed to meet anticipated expenses, the estimated 
salable tons of California dried prunes, excess funds carried forward 
into the 2008-09 crop year, and estimated income from other sources 
such as interest. Therefore, the Committee recommended an assessment 
rate of $0.30 per ton of salable dried prunes.
    Prior to arriving at its budget of $51,587, the Committee 
considered information from various sources, including the Committee's 
Executive Subcommittee. The Executive Subcommittee reviewed the 
administrative expenses shared between the Committee and the CDPB in 
recent years. Accordingly, the Executive Subcommittee recommended 
reducing the share of expenses allocated to the Committee from 10 to 5 
percent. The Executive Subcommittee then recommended the $51,587 budget 
and $0.30 per ton assessment rate to the Committee. The Committee 
recommended the same budget and assessment rate to USDA.
    Section 993.81(c) of the order provides the Committee the authority 
to use excess assessment funds from the 2007-08 crop year (estimated at 
$15,487) for up to 5 months beyond the end of the crop year to meet 
2008-09 crop year expenses. At the end of the 5 months, the Committee 
either refunds or credits excess funds to handlers.
    To calculate the percentage of grower revenue represented by the 
assessment rate for 2007, the assessment rate of $0.60 per ton is 
divided by the estimated average grower price (according to the NASS). 
This results in estimated assessment revenue for the 2007-08 crop year 
as a percentage of grower revenue of.05 percent ($0.60 divided by 
$1,450 per ton). NASS data for 2008 is not yet available. However, 
applying the same calculations above using the average grower price for 
2005-07 would result in estimated assessment revenue as a percentage of 
total grower revenue of.02 percent for the 2008-09 crop year ($0.30 
divided by $1,437 per ton). Thus, the assessment revenue should be well 
below 1 percent of estimated grower revenue in 2008.
    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 California dried prune industry and all 
interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate 
in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, 
the June 26, 2008, 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 California dried prune handlers. 
As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are 
periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and 
duplication by industry and public sector agencies.
    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/AMSv1.0/
ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateN&page=MarketingOrdersSmallBus
inessGuide. 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 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 the 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 2008-09 crop year began on August 1, 2008, and the 
marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each year 
apply to all assessable prunes handled during the year; (2) this action 
decreases the assessment rate for assessable prunes beginning with the 
2008-09 crop year; (3) handlers are aware of this action which was 
unanimously recommended at a public meeting and is similar to actions 
recommended by the Committee in past years, and (4) this interim final 
rule provides for a 60-day comment period, and all comments timely 
received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule.

[[Page 50194]]

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993

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

0
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is amended as 
follows:

PART 993--DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  993.347   Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1, 2008, an assessment rate of $0.30 per ton of 
salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes.

    Dated: August 20, 2008.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. E8-19695 Filed 8-25-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P