Almonds Grown in California; Relaxation of Incoming Quality Control Requirements, 66719-66721 [E8-26851]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 12, 2008 / Rules and Regulations List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 915 Avocados, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. ■ For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 915 is amended as follows: Dated: November 5, 2008. David R. Shipman, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E8–26855 Filed 11–10–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P PART 915—AVOCADOS GROWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 915 continues to read as follows: Agricultural Marketing Service ■ 7 CFR Part 981 Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. ■ [Docket No. AMS–FV–08–0044; FV08–981– 1 FIR] § 915.305 Florida Avocado Container Regulation 5. Almonds Grown in California; Relaxation of Incoming Quality Control Requirements 2. Two new paragraphs (d) and (e) are added to § 915.305 to read as follows: * * * * * (d) Avocados handled for the fresh market in containers other than those authorized under § 915.305(a) and shipped to destinations within the production area must be packed in 1bushel containers. (e) All containers in which the avocados are packed must be new, and clean in appearance, without marks, stains, or other evidence of previous use. 3. In § 915.306, paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(6) and (a)(7) are revised to read as follows: mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with RULES § 915.306 Florida avocado grade, pack, and container marking regulation. (a) * * * (1) Such avocados grade at least U.S. No. 2, except that avocados handled to destinations within the production area may be placed in containers with avocados of dissimilar varietal characteristics. * * * * * (6) Such avocados when handled in containers authorized under § 915.305, except for those to export destinations, are marked once with the grade of fruit in letters and numbers at least 1 inch in height on the top or one side of the container, not to include the bottom. (7) Such avocados when handled in containers other than those authorized under § 915.305(a) for shipment to destinations within the production area are marked once with the grade of fruit in letters and numbers at least 3 inches in height on the top or one side of the container, not to include the bottom. Each such container is also to be marked at least once with either the registered handler number assigned to the handler at the time of certification as a registered handler or with the name and address of the handler. * * * * * VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:26 Nov 10, 2008 Jkt 217001 Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim final rule relaxing the incoming quality control requirements prescribed under the California almond marketing order (order). The order regulates the handling of almonds grown in California and is administered locally by the Almond Board of California (Board). This rule continues in effect the action that changed the date by which almond handlers must satisfy their inedible disposition obligation from August 31 to September 30 of each year. This change provides handlers more flexibility in their operations in light of larger almond crops. DATES: Effective Date: December 12, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Terry Vawter, Senior Marketing Specialist, or Kurt J. 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: Terry.Vawter@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. This rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 981, as amended (7 CFR part 981), regulating the handling of almonds SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 66719 grown in California, 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.’’ USDA is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866. This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. 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. 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. This rule continues in effect a relaxation of the incoming quality control requirements prescribed under the order by changing the date by which almond handlers must satisfy their inedible disposition obligation from August 31 to September 30 of each year. This provides handlers more flexibility in their operations in light of larger almond crops. Section 981.42 of the order provides authority for a quality control program. Paragraph (a) of this section requires handlers to obtain incoming inspections on almonds received from growers to determine the percent of inedible kernels in each lot of any variety. Inedible kernels are poor quality kernels or pieces of kernels as defined in § 981.408. A handler’s inedible disposition obligation is based on the percentage of inedible kernels in lots received by such handler during a crop year, as determined by the Federal-State inspection service. Handlers must satisfy their obligation by disposing of inedible kernels and other almond material in Board-accepted, non-human consumption outlets like oil and animal feed. Section 981.42(a) also provides E:\FR\FM\12NOR1.SGM 12NOR1 66720 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 12, 2008 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with RULES authority for the Board, with approval of the Secretary, to establish rules and regulations necessary to administer this program. Prior to publication of the interim final rule, § 981.442(a)(5) of the order’s administrative rules and regulations specified that handlers must satisfy their inedible disposition obligation no later than August 31 succeeding the crop year in which the obligation was incurred. The crop year runs from August 1 through July 31. Since the mid-1990’s, almond crops have doubled in size and are now over 1 billion pounds annually. Larger crops have resulted in larger quantities of inedible kernels. Between the 1993–94 and 1997–98 crop years, almond production averaged about 570 million pounds and inedible disposition obligations averaged about 7 million pounds annually. Between the 2003–04 and 2007–08 crop years, production averaged about 1 billion pounds and inedible disposition obligations averaged about 10 million pounds annually. Many handlers now operate yearround and dispose of their inedible kernels at one time after the end of the crop year. With larger crops, it has become difficult for handlers to meet the August 31 inedible-disposition deadline because of the larger volume of inedible kernels that must be disposed of under the program. Thus, the Board recommended extending the deadline from August 31 to September 30, giving handlers an additional month to meet their prior year’s obligation. This provides handlers more flexibility in their operations in light of larger almond crops. The revision of § 981.442(a)(5) continues in effect, accordingly. This rule also continues in effect the removal of obsolete language in § 981.442(a)(5). That section was modified in 2006 to specify that at least 50 percent (increased from 25 percent) of a handler’s crop year inedible disposition obligation must be satisfied with dispositions consisting of inedible kernels. The 50 percent requirement does not apply to handlers with total inedible obligations of less than 1,000 pounds. However, that section still contained the sentence referencing the 25 percent requirement. This rule continues in effect both the removal of that sentence and the revision of § 981.442(a)(5), accordingly. Final 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 VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:26 Nov 10, 2008 Jkt 217001 this action on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final regulatory flexibility analysis. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 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 6,200 producers of almonds in the production area and approximately 100 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $6,500,000. Data for the 2006–07 crop year indicate that about 50 percent of the handlers shipped under $6,500,000 worth of almonds. Dividing average almond crop value for 2006–07 reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of $2.258 billion by the number of producers (6,200) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of about $364,190. Based on the foregoing, about half of the handlers and a majority of almond producers may be classified as small entities. This rule continues in effect both the revision and relaxation of § 981.442(a)(5) of the order’s administrative rules and regulations, whereby handlers are permitted to satisfy their inedible disposition obligation no later than September 30 of each year for obligations incurred in the previous crop year, rather than the previous deadline of August 31 of each year. This rule also continues in effect the removal of an obsolete sentence in that section that referenced handler dispositions containing 25 percent inedible kernels. Authority for this action is provided in § 981.42(a) of the order. Regarding the impact of this action on affected entities, extending the disposition deadline provides handlers with additional flexibility in light of larger almond crops. Handlers who operate year round and dispose of their inedible kernels at one time after the end of the crop year have an additional month to satisfy their prior year’s inedible obligation. The Board considered alternatives to this action. The Board’s Food Quality and Safety Committee (committee) met PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 in September and November 2007 and discussed the difficulties that handlers were experiencing with meeting the August 31 disposition deadline. The committee recommended revising the regulation to allow July dispositions to be counted towards either the current year or the following year’s obligation. However, the intent of the inedible program is to ensure that poor quality almonds from the current crop year are removed from the market. Thus, allowing July dispositions to count towards the following year’s obligation would not meet the intent of the program. The committee deliberated on this issue again in April 2008. The committee considered the option of extending the August 31 deadline to September 30. The Board concurred with this option at its meeting on April 2, 2008, and referred the issue back to the committee for full discussion. The committee met again on April 22, 2008, to discuss the potential change. Ultimately, the committee recommended this option to the Board, and the Board subsequently unanimously recommended this change at its May 2008 meeting. This rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large almond 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. In addition, as noted in the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule. 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. Further, the committee and Board meetings where this issue was discussed were widely publicized throughout the almond industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meetings and encouraged to participate in Board deliberations. Like all committee and Board meetings, the meetings held in September and November 2007, and in April and May 2008 were all public meetings and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their views on this issue. An interim final rule concerning this action was published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2008. Copies of the rule were provided to all Board members and almond handlers by the E:\FR\FM\12NOR1.SGM 12NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 12, 2008 / Rules and Regulations Board’s staff. In addition, the rule was made available through the Internet by USDA and the Office of the Federal Register. That rule provided for a 60-day comment period which ended on September 22, 2008. No comments were received. 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=MarketingOrders SmallBusinessGuide. 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 Board’s recommendation, and other information, it is found that finalizing the interim final rule, without change, as published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2008 (73 FR 43056), will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 981 Almonds, Marketing agreements, Nuts, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. PART 981—ALMONDS GROWN IN CALIFORNIA Accordingly, the interim final rule amending 7 CFR part 981, which was published at 73 FR 43056 on July 24, 2008, is adopted as a final rule without change. ■ Dated: November 5, 2008. David R. Shipman, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. E8–26851 Filed 11–10–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 10 CFR Part 611 RIN 1901–AB25 Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Department of Energy (Department or DOE). ACTION: Interim final rule; request for comment. mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with RULES AGENCY: SUMMARY: Today’s interim final rule establishes the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program authorized by section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:26 Nov 10, 2008 Jkt 217001 Act of 2007, as amended. Section 136 provides for grants and loans to eligible automobile manufacturers and component suppliers for projects that reequip, expand, and establish manufacturing facilities in the United States to produce light-duty vehicles and components for such vehicles, which provide meaningful improvements in fuel economy performance beyond certain specified levels. Section 136 also provides that grants and loans may cover engineering integration costs associated with such projects. This interim final rule establishes applicant eligibility and project eligibility requirements for both the grant and the loan program. Today’s interim final rule also establishes the application requirements and the general terms for the loan program. At present, Congress has appropriated funds through the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, for only the loan program. As such, DOE will be implementing the loan program only at this time, though issuing rules for both the grant and loan programs. DATES: This interim final rule is effective November 12, 2008. Applications for a direct loan will be reviewed by DOE in tranches. To be eligible for the first tranche, applications may be submitted or hand delivered to the Postal Mail address listed in ADDRESSES until December 31, 2008. The deadline for loan applications for subsequent tranches of loans will be the end of every calendar quarter thereafter as funds and available loan authority permit. Comments must be received by DOE no later than December 12, 2008. If you submit information that you believe to be exempt by law from public disclosure, you should submit one complete copy, as well as one copy from which the information claimed to be exempt by law from public disclosure has been deleted. DOE is responsible for the final determination with regard to disclosure or nondisclosure of the information and for treating it accordingly under the DOE Freedom of Information regulations at 10 CFR 1004.11. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • E-mail: ATVMLoan@hq.doe.gov. • Postal Mail: Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 66721 • Hand Delivery/Courier: Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585. Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this rulemaking. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lachlan Seward, Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, 202–586–8146; or Daniel Cohen, Assistant General Counsel for Legislation and Regulatory Law, Office of the General Counsel, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, 202–586–2918. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Introduction and Background II. Discussion of Interim Final Rule A. Applicant Eligibility for Grant and Loan Programs—Statutory Criteria B. Applicant Eligibility for Direct Loan Program—Secretarial Determinations C. Project Eligibility for Grant and Loan Programs D. Terms for Direct Loans E. Application Process for Direct Loan Program F. Credit Subsidy Cost for Direct Loans G. Project Costs H. Assessment of Fees for Direct Loan Program I. Assessment of Applications and Program Priorities III. Application Submission IV. Regulatory Review A. Review Under Executive Order 12866 B. Review Under National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 C. Review Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act D. Review Under the Paperwork Reduction Act E. Review Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 F. Review Under the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999 G. Review Under Executive Order 13132 H. Review Under Executive Order 12988 I. Review Under the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 J. Review Under Executive Order 13211 K. Congressional Notification L. Approval by the Office of the Secretary of Energy I. Introduction and Background Section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (‘‘EISA’’), enacted on December 19, 2007, Public Law 110–140, authorizes the Secretary of Energy (‘‘Secretary’’) to make grants and direct loans to eligible applicants for projects that reequip, expand, or establish manufacturing facilities in the United States to produce qualified advanced technology vehicles, or qualifying components and also for E:\FR\FM\12NOR1.SGM 12NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 219 (Wednesday, November 12, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66719-66721]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-26851]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 981

[Docket No. AMS-FV-08-0044; FV08-981-1 FIR]


Almonds Grown in California; Relaxation of Incoming Quality 
Control Requirements

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final 
rule, without change, an interim final rule relaxing the incoming 
quality control requirements prescribed under the California almond 
marketing order (order). The order regulates the handling of almonds 
grown in California and is administered locally by the Almond Board of 
California (Board). This rule continues in effect the action that 
changed the date by which almond handlers must satisfy their inedible 
disposition obligation from August 31 to September 30 of each year. 
This change provides handlers more flexibility in their operations in 
light of larger almond crops.

DATES: Effective Date: December 12, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Terry Vawter, Senior Marketing 
Specialist, or Kurt J. 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: Terry.Vawter@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 Order 
No. 981, as amended (7 CFR part 981), regulating the handling of 
almonds grown in California, 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.''
    USDA is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 
12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
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. 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.
    This rule continues in effect a relaxation of the incoming quality 
control requirements prescribed under the order by changing the date by 
which almond handlers must satisfy their inedible disposition 
obligation from August 31 to September 30 of each year. This provides 
handlers more flexibility in their operations in light of larger almond 
crops.
    Section 981.42 of the order provides authority for a quality 
control program. Paragraph (a) of this section requires handlers to 
obtain incoming inspections on almonds received from growers to 
determine the percent of inedible kernels in each lot of any variety. 
Inedible kernels are poor quality kernels or pieces of kernels as 
defined in Sec.  981.408. A handler's inedible disposition obligation 
is based on the percentage of inedible kernels in lots received by such 
handler during a crop year, as determined by the Federal-State 
inspection service. Handlers must satisfy their obligation by disposing 
of inedible kernels and other almond material in Board-accepted, non-
human consumption outlets like oil and animal feed. Section 981.42(a) 
also provides

[[Page 66720]]

authority for the Board, with approval of the Secretary, to establish 
rules and regulations necessary to administer this program.
    Prior to publication of the interim final rule, Sec.  981.442(a)(5) 
of the order's administrative rules and regulations specified that 
handlers must satisfy their inedible disposition obligation no later 
than August 31 succeeding the crop year in which the obligation was 
incurred. The crop year runs from August 1 through July 31.
    Since the mid-1990's, almond crops have doubled in size and are now 
over 1 billion pounds annually. Larger crops have resulted in larger 
quantities of inedible kernels. Between the 1993-94 and 1997-98 crop 
years, almond production averaged about 570 million pounds and inedible 
disposition obligations averaged about 7 million pounds annually. 
Between the 2003-04 and 2007-08 crop years, production averaged about 1 
billion pounds and inedible disposition obligations averaged about 10 
million pounds annually.
    Many handlers now operate year-round and dispose of their inedible 
kernels at one time after the end of the crop year. With larger crops, 
it has become difficult for handlers to meet the August 31 inedible-
disposition deadline because of the larger volume of inedible kernels 
that must be disposed of under the program. Thus, the Board recommended 
extending the deadline from August 31 to September 30, giving handlers 
an additional month to meet their prior year's obligation. This 
provides handlers more flexibility in their operations in light of 
larger almond crops. The revision of Sec.  981.442(a)(5) continues in 
effect, accordingly.
    This rule also continues in effect the removal of obsolete language 
in Sec.  981.442(a)(5). That section was modified in 2006 to specify 
that at least 50 percent (increased from 25 percent) of a handler's 
crop year inedible disposition obligation must be satisfied with 
dispositions consisting of inedible kernels. The 50 percent requirement 
does not apply to handlers with total inedible obligations of less than 
1,000 pounds. However, that section still contained the sentence 
referencing the 25 percent requirement. This rule continues in effect 
both the removal of that sentence and the revision of Sec.  
981.442(a)(5), accordingly.

Final 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 final 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 6,200 producers of almonds in the 
production area and approximately 100 handlers subject to regulation 
under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by 
the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having 
annual receipts of less than $750,000, and small agricultural service 
firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$6,500,000.
    Data for the 2006-07 crop year indicate that about 50 percent of 
the handlers shipped under $6,500,000 worth of almonds. Dividing 
average almond crop value for 2006-07 reported by the National 
Agricultural Statistics Service of $2.258 billion by the number of 
producers (6,200) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of 
about $364,190. Based on the foregoing, about half of the handlers and 
a majority of almond producers may be classified as small entities.
    This rule continues in effect both the revision and relaxation of 
Sec.  981.442(a)(5) of the order's administrative rules and 
regulations, whereby handlers are permitted to satisfy their inedible 
disposition obligation no later than September 30 of each year for 
obligations incurred in the previous crop year, rather than the 
previous deadline of August 31 of each year. This rule also continues 
in effect the removal of an obsolete sentence in that section that 
referenced handler dispositions containing 25 percent inedible kernels. 
Authority for this action is provided in Sec.  981.42(a) of the order.
    Regarding the impact of this action on affected entities, extending 
the disposition deadline provides handlers with additional flexibility 
in light of larger almond crops. Handlers who operate year round and 
dispose of their inedible kernels at one time after the end of the crop 
year have an additional month to satisfy their prior year's inedible 
obligation.
    The Board considered alternatives to this action. The Board's Food 
Quality and Safety Committee (committee) met in September and November 
2007 and discussed the difficulties that handlers were experiencing 
with meeting the August 31 disposition deadline. The committee 
recommended revising the regulation to allow July dispositions to be 
counted towards either the current year or the following year's 
obligation. However, the intent of the inedible program is to ensure 
that poor quality almonds from the current crop year are removed from 
the market. Thus, allowing July dispositions to count towards the 
following year's obligation would not meet the intent of the program.
    The committee deliberated on this issue again in April 2008. The 
committee considered the option of extending the August 31 deadline to 
September 30. The Board concurred with this option at its meeting on 
April 2, 2008, and referred the issue back to the committee for full 
discussion. The committee met again on April 22, 2008, to discuss the 
potential change. Ultimately, the committee recommended this option to 
the Board, and the Board subsequently unanimously recommended this 
change at its May 2008 meeting.
    This rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large almond 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. In addition, as noted in the initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis, USDA has not identified any relevant 
Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule.
    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.
    Further, the committee and Board meetings where this issue was 
discussed were widely publicized throughout the almond industry and all 
interested persons were invited to attend the meetings and encouraged 
to participate in Board deliberations. Like all committee and Board 
meetings, the meetings held in September and November 2007, and in 
April and May 2008 were all public meetings and all entities, both 
large and small, were able to express their views on this issue.
    An interim final rule concerning this action was published in the 
Federal Register on July 24, 2008. Copies of the rule were provided to 
all Board members and almond handlers by the

[[Page 66721]]

Board's staff. In addition, the rule was made available through the 
Internet by USDA and the Office of the Federal Register. That rule 
provided for a 60-day comment period which ended on September 22, 2008. 
No comments were received.
    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 Board's recommendation, and other information, it is found that 
finalizing the interim final rule, without change, as published in the 
Federal Register on July 24, 2008 (73 FR 43056), will tend to 
effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 981

    Almonds, Marketing agreements, Nuts, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

PART 981--ALMONDS GROWN IN CALIFORNIA

0
Accordingly, the interim final rule amending 7 CFR part 981, which was 
published at 73 FR 43056 on July 24, 2008, is adopted as a final rule 
without change.

    Dated: November 5, 2008.
David R. Shipman,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. E8-26851 Filed 11-10-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P