Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Final Free and Reserve Percentages for 2008-09 Crop Natural (Sun-Dried) Seedless Raisins, 9951-9956 [E9-4851]

Download as PDF 9951 Rules and Regulations Federal Register Vol. 74, No. 44 Monday, March 9, 2009 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510. comments about issues of law and policy raised by those regulations. As a result, OPM has delayed the effective date of the final rule from March 9, 2008 to May 18, 2009. OPM has also opened a 30-day public comment period. The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each week. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Kathie Ann Whipple, Acting Director. [FR Doc. E9–5008 Filed 3–5–09; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 6325–39–P OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT 5 CFR Part 300 OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT RIN 3206–AL18 5 CFR Part 532 Time-in-Grade Eliminated, Delay of Effective Date and Addition of Comment Period RIN 3206–AL74 Prevailing Rate Systems; Abolishment of Santa Clara, CA, as a Nonappropriated Fund Federal Wage System Wage Area U.S. Office of Personnel Management. ACTION: Final rule; delay of effective date and addition of comment period. AGENCY: SUMMARY: This document delays the effective date by 60 days and provides a 30-day public comment period to run concurrently for the final rule eliminating the time-in-grade requirement for competitive promotions, as published in the Federal Register on November 7, 2008. DATES: The effective date for the final rule published on November 7, 2008 (73 FR 66157), is delayed until May 18, 2009. Written comments must be received on or before April 8, 2009. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Janice Warren by telephone (202) 606– 0960; by FAX (202) 606–2329; by TTY (202) 418–2134; or by e-mail janice.warren@opm.gov. The Office of Personnel Management published a Final Rule in the Federal Register on November 7, 2008 (73 FR 66157). Pursuant to a January 20, 2009, White House Memorandum on regulatory review, agencies are requested to consider extending for 60 days the effective date of regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but not yet taken effect, for the purpose of reviewing questions of law and policy raised by those regulations. Where such an extension is made, agencies are requested to immediately reopen the notice-and-comment period for 30 days to allow interested parties to provide dwashington3 on PROD1PC60 with RULES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:42 Mar 06, 2009 Jkt 217001 AGENCY: U.S. Office of Personnel Management. ACTION: Final rule. SUMMARY: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is issuing a final rule to abolish the Santa Clara, California, nonappropriated fund (NAF) Federal Wage System (FWS) wage area and redefine Santa Clara County, CA, to the Monterey, CA, NAF wage area and Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco Counties, CA, to the Solano, CA, NAF wage area. San Mateo County, CA, will no longer be defined to a wage area. These changes are necessary because the closure of the Moffett Federal Airfield Navy Exchange left the Santa Clara wage area without an activity having the capability to conduct a local wage survey. DATES: Effective date: This regulation is effective on March 9, 2009. Applicability date: This regulation applies on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after November 15, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Madeline Gonzalez, (202) 606–2838; email pay-performance-policy@opm.gov; or FAX: (202) 606–4264. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 4, 2008, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued an interim rule (73 FR 65495) to abolish the Santa Clara, California, nonappropriated fund (NAF) Federal Wage System wage area, redefine Santa Clara County, CA, PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 to the Monterey, CA, NAF wage area and Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco Counties, CA, to the Solano, CA, NAF wage area, and remove San Mateo County, CA, from the wage area definition. The interim rule had a 30day public comment period, during which OPM received no comments. Regulatory Flexibility Act I certify that these regulations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because they will affect only Federal agencies and employees. List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 532 Administrative practice and procedure, Freedom of information, Government employees, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Wages. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Kathie Ann Whipple, Acting Director. Accordingly, under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 5343, the interim rule published on November 4, 2008, amending 5 CFR part 532 (73 FR 65495) is adopted as final with no changes. ■ [FR Doc. E9–4925 Filed 3–6–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6325–39–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 989 [Doc. No. AMS–FV–08–0114; FV09–989–1 IFR] Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Final Free and Reserve Percentages for 2008–09 Crop Natural (Sun-Dried) Seedless Raisins AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments. SUMMARY: This rule establishes final volume regulation percentages for 2008– 09 crop Natural (sun-dried) Seedless (NS) raisins covered under the Federal marketing order for California raisins (order). The order regulates the handling of raisins produced from grapes grown in California and is locally administered by the Raisin Administrative Committee (Committee). The volume regulation percentages are 87 percent free and 13 E:\FR\FM\09MRR1.SGM 09MRR1 9952 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 44 / Monday, March 9, 2009 / Rules and Regulations percent reserve. The percentages are intended to help stabilize raisin supplies and prices, and strengthen market conditions. DATES: Effective March 10, 2009. The volume regulation percentages apply to acquisitions of NS raisins from the 2008–09 crop until the reserve raisins from that crop are disposed of under the marketing order. Comments received by May 8, 2009, 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: https:// www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the document number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: https://www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this rule will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. Please be advised that the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be made public on the Internet at the address provided above. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rose M. Aguayo, 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: Rose.Aguayo@ams.usda.gov or Kurt.Kimmel@ams.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@ams.usda.gov. This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement and Order No. 989, both as amended (7 CFR part 989), regulating the handling of raisins produced from grapes 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.’’ dwashington3 on PROD1PC60 with RULES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:42 Mar 06, 2009 Jkt 217001 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 order provisions now in effect, final free and reserve percentages may be established for raisins acquired by handlers during the crop year. This rule establishes final free and reserve percentages for NS raisins for the 2008–09 crop year, which began August 1, 2008, and ends July 31, 2009. 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 establishes final volume regulation percentages for the 2008–09 crop year for NS raisins covered under the order. The volume regulation percentages are 87 percent free and 13 percent reserve. Free tonnage raisins may be sold by handlers to any market. Reserve raisins must be held in a pool for the account of the Committee and are disposed of through various programs authorized under the order. For example, reserve raisins may be sold by the Committee to handlers for free use or to replace part of the free tonnage raisins they exported; used in diversion programs; carried over as a hedge against a short crop; or disposed of in other outlets not competitive with those for free tonnage raisins, such as government purchase, distilleries, or animal feed. The volume regulation percentages are intended to help stabilize raisin supplies and prices, and strengthen market conditions. The Committee unanimously recommended final percentages for NS raisins on December 18, 2008. PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Computation of Trade Demand Section 989.54 of the order prescribes procedures and time frames to be followed in establishing volume regulation. This includes methodology used to calculate free and reserve percentages. Pursuant to § 989.54(a) of the order, the Committee met on August 15, 2008, to review shipment and inventory data, and other matters relating to the supplies of raisins of all varietal types. The Committee computed a trade demand for each varietal type for which a free tonnage percentage might be recommended. Trade demand is computed using a formula specified in the order and, for each varietal type, is equal to 90 percent of the prior year’s shipments of free tonnage and reserve tonnage raisins sold for free use into all market outlets, adjusted by subtracting the carryin on August 1 of the current crop year, and adding the desirable carryout at the end of that crop year. As specified in § 989.154(a), the desirable carryout for NS raisins shall equal the total shipments of free tonnage during August and September for each of the past 5 crop years, converted to a natural condition basis, dropping the high and low figures, and dividing the remaining sum by three, or 60,000 natural condition tons, whichever is higher. For all other varietal types, the desirable carryout shall equal the total shipments of free tonnage during August, September and one-half of October for each of the past 5 crop years, converted to a natural condition basis, dropping the high and low figures, and dividing the remaining sum by three. In accordance with these provisions, the Committee computed and announced the 2008–09 trade demand for NS raisins at 273,863 tons as shown below. COMPUTED TRADE DEMAND [Natural condition tons] NS Raisins Prior year’s shipments .............. Multiplied by 90 percent ........... Equals adjusted base ............... Minus carryin inventory ............ Plus desirable carryout ............. Equals computed NS trade Demand ..................................... 355,680 0.90 320,112 106,249 60,000 273,863 Computation of Volume Regulation Percentages Section 989.54(b) of the order requires that the Committee announce, on or before October 5, preliminary crop estimates and determine whether volume regulation is warranted for the varietal types for which it computed a trade demand. That section allows the E:\FR\FM\09MRR1.SGM 09MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 44 / Monday, March 9, 2009 / Rules and Regulations orders utilizing reserve pool authority. This goal is expected to be met for NS raisins for the 2008–09 crop year. Application of the final percentages will make 273,863 tons of raisins available to handlers if the crop estimate is realized. In addition, handlers will be offered additional reserve raisins for sale under the ‘‘10 plus 10 offers.’’ As specified in § 989.54(g), the 10 plus 10 offers are two offers of reserve pool raisins which are made available to handlers during each season. For each such offer, a quantity of reserve raisins equal to 10 percent of the prior year’s shipments is made available to handlers for free use. Handlers may sell their 10 plus 10 raisins to any market. Based on 2007–08 NS shipments of 355,680 natural condition tons, 71,136 tons should be made available in the 10 plus 10 offers. However, based on the 313,231-ton crop estimate and the 273,863-ton trade demand, only 39,368 tons of 2008–09 reserve raisins would be available. There is no tonnage available from prior pools. Thus, all available reserve pool raisins should be offered to handlers for free use through the 10 plus 10 offers. Raisins that are not purchased by handlers through the 10 plus 10 offers may be used for other programs authorized under the order. In addition to the 10 plus 10 offers, § 989.67(j) of the order provides authority for sales of reserve raisins to handlers under certain conditions such as a national emergency, crop failure, change in economic or marketing conditions, or if free tonnage shipments in the current crop year exceed shipments during a comparable period of the prior crop year. Pursuant to § 989.67(j), 643 tons of 2007–08 reserve raisins were sold to handlers in August 2008. Adding the estimated figure of 39,368 tons of 10 plus 10 raisins to the 273,863ton trade demand, plus 106,249 tons of carryin inventory, plus 643 tons of reserve raisins sold pursuant to FINAL VOLUME REGULATION § 989.67(j) results in a total supply of PERCENTAGES 420,123 tons of natural condition [Natural condition tons] raisins, or 397,054 packed tons. This equates to 118 percent of the 2007–08 NS Raisins shipments of 355,680 natural condition Trade demand .......................... 273,863 tons or 336,150 packed tons. Divided by crop estimate .......... 313,231 Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Equals the free percentage ...... 87.00 Pursuant to requirements set forth in 100 minus free percentage the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 equals the reserve percentage ........................................ 13.00 U.S.C. 601–612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has USDA’s ‘‘Guidelines for Fruit, considered the economic impact of this Vegetable, and Specialty Crop action on small entities. Accordingly, Marketing Orders’’ (Guidelines) specify AMS has prepared this initial regulatory that 110 percent of recent years’ sales flexibility analysis. should be made available to primary The purpose of the RFA is to fit markets each season for marketing regulatory actions to the scale of dwashington3 on PROD1PC60 with RULES Committee to extend the October 5 date up to 5 business days if warranted by a late crop. If the Committee determines that volume regulation is warranted, it must also compute and announce preliminary free and reserve percentages. Section 989.54(c) provides that the Committee may modify the preliminary free and reserve percentages prior to February 15 by announcing interim percentages which release less than the trade demand. Section 989.54(d) requires the Committee to recommend final percentages no later than February 15 which will tend to release the full trade demand. Final percentages are established by USDA through informal rulemaking. The Committee met on October 9, 2008, and announced a 2008–09 crop estimate of 300,000 tons for NS raisins pursuant to § 989.54(b). NS raisins are the major varietal type of California raisin. The crop estimate of 300,000 tons was higher than the computed trade demand of 273,863 tons. Thus, it was determined that volume regulation for NS raisins was warranted. Preliminary volume regulation percentages computed to 78 percent free and 22 percent reserve to release 85 percent of the computed trade demand. Pursuant to § 989.54(c), at its December 18, 2008, meeting, the Committee announced a revised crop estimate of 313,231 tons of NS raisins (up from the October estimate of 300,000 tons). The Committee announced interim volume regulation percentages for NS raisins to release slightly less than the full trade demand at 86.75 percent free and 13.25 percent reserve and recommended final volume regulation percentages of 87 percent free and 13 percent reserve pursuant to § 989.54(d). The Committee’s calculations and determinations to arrive at final percentages for NS raisins are shown in the table below: VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:42 Mar 06, 2009 Jkt 217001 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 9953 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. Thus, both statutes have small entity orientation and compatibility. There are approximately 18 handlers of California raisins who are subject to regulation under the order and approximately 3,000 raisin producers in the regulated area. Small agricultural firms are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts of less than $7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000. No more than 7 handlers and a majority of producers of California raisins may be classified as small entities. Since 1949, the California raisin industry has operated under a Federal marketing order. The order contains authority to, among other things, limit the portion of a given year’s crop that can be marketed freely in any outlet by raisin handlers. This volume regulation mechanism is used to stabilize supplies and prices and strengthen market conditions. If the primary market (the normal domestic market) is oversupplied with raisins, grower prices decline substantially. Pursuant to § 989.54(d) of the order, this rule establishes final volume regulation percentages for the 2008–09 crop year for NS raisins. The volume regulation percentages are 87 percent free and 13 percent reserve. Free tonnage raisins may be sold by handlers to any market. Reserve raisins must be held in a pool for the account of the Committee and are disposed of through certain programs authorized under the order. Volume regulation is warranted this season because the crop estimate of 313,231 tons is significantly higher than the 273,863 ton trade demand. The volume regulation procedures have helped the industry address its marketing problems by keeping supplies in balance with domestic and export market needs, and strengthening market conditions. The volume regulation procedures fully supply the domestic and export markets, provide for market expansion, and help reduce the burden of oversupplies in the domestic market. Raisin grapes are a perennial crop, so production in any year is dependent upon plantings made in earlier years. The sun-drying method of producing raisins involves considerable risk because of variable weather patterns. E:\FR\FM\09MRR1.SGM 09MRR1 9954 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 44 / Monday, March 9, 2009 / Rules and Regulations Even though the product and the industry are viewed as mature, the industry has experienced considerable change over the last several decades. Before the 1975–76 crop year, more than 50 percent of the raisins were packed and sold directly to consumers. Now, about 62 percent of raisins are sold in bulk. This means that raisins are now sold to consumers mostly as an ingredient in another product such as cereal and baked goods. In addition, for a few years in the early 1970’s, over 50 percent of the raisin grapes were sold to the wine market for crushing. Since then, the percent of raisin-variety grapes sold to the wine industry has decreased. California’s grapes are classified into three groups—table grapes, wine grapes, and raisin-variety grapes. Raisin-variety grapes are the most versatile of the three types. They can be marketed as fresh grapes, crushed for juice in the production of wine or juice concentrate, or dried into raisins. Annual fluctuations in the fresh grape, wine, and concentrate markets, as well as weather-related factors, cause fluctuations in raisin supply. This type of situation introduces a certain amount of variability into the raisin market. Although the size of the crop for raisinvariety grapes may be known, the amount dried for raisins depends on the demand for crushing. This makes the marketing of raisins a more difficult task. These supply fluctuations can result in producer price instability and disorderly market conditions. Volume regulation is helpful to the raisin industry because it lessens the impact of such fluctuations and contributes to orderly marketing. For example, producer prices for NS raisins remained fairly steady between the 1993–94 through the 1997–98 crop years, although production varied. As shown in the table below, during those years, production varied from a low of 272,063 tons in 1996–97 to a high of 387,007 tons in 1993–94. According to Committee data, the total producer return per ton during those years, which includes proceeds from both free tonnage plus reserve pool raisins, has varied from a low of $904.60 in 1993–94 to a high of $1,049.20 in 1996–97. Producer prices for the 1998– 99 and 1999–2000 crop years increased significantly due to back-to-back short crops during those years. Record large crops followed and producer prices dropped dramatically for the 2000–01 through 2003–04 crop years, as inventories grew while demand stagnated. However, as noted below, producer prices were higher for the 2004–05 through the 2007–08 crop years: NATURAL SEEDLESS (NATURAL CONDITION) DELIVERIES, FIELD PRICES AND PRODUCER PRICES Deliveries (tons) Crop year 2007–08 ................................................................................................................... 2006–07 ................................................................................................................... 2005–06 ................................................................................................................... 2004–05 ................................................................................................................... 2003–04 ................................................................................................................... 2002–03 ................................................................................................................... 2001–02 ................................................................................................................... 2000–01 ................................................................................................................... 1999–2000 ............................................................................................................... 1998–99 ................................................................................................................... 1997–98 ................................................................................................................... 1996–97 ................................................................................................................... 1995–96 ................................................................................................................... 1994–95 ................................................................................................................... 1993–94 ................................................................................................................... Field prices (per ton) 1 329,288 282,999 319,126 265,262 296,864 388,010 377,328 432,616 299,910 240,469 382,448 272,063 325,911 378,427 387,007 $1,210.00 1,210.00 1,210.00 1,210.00 810.00 745.00 880.00 877.50 1,425.00 1,290.00 1,250.00 1,220.00 1,160.00 1,160.00 1,155.00 Producer prices (per ton) 1 $1,028.50 2 1,089.00 2 998.25 3 1,210.00 567.00 491.20 650.94 603.36 1,211.25 3 1,290.00 946.52 1,049.20 1,007.19 928.27 904.60 dwashington3 on PROD1PC60 with RULES 1 Field prices for NS raisins are established by the Raisin Bargaining Association, and are also referred to in the industry as the free tonnage price for raisins. 2 Return-to-date, reserve pool still open. 3 No volume regulation. There are essentially two broad markets for raisins—domestic and export. Domestic shipments generally increased over the years. Although domestic shipments decreased from a high of 204,805 packed tons during the 1990–91 crop year to a low of 156,325 packed tons in 1999–2000 crop year, they increased from 174,117 packed tons during the 2000–01 crop year to 193,609 packed tons during the 2007–08 crop year. Export shipments ranged from a high of 107,931 packed tons in 1991–92 crop year to a low of 91,599 packed tons in the 1999–2000 crop year. Since that time, export shipments increased to 106,755 tons of raisins during the 2004–05 crop year, fell to 101,684 tons in 2006–07 crop year, and again increased to 142,541 tons in 2007– VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:42 Mar 06, 2009 Jkt 217001 08 crop year. This significant increase was due to a short crop in Turkey. The per capita consumption of raisins has declined from 2.07 pounds in 1988 to 1.51 pounds in 2006. This decrease is consistent with the decrease in the per capita consumption of dried fruits in general, which is due to the increasing availability of most types of fresh fruit throughout the year. While the overall demand for raisins has increased in four of the last five years (as reflected in increased commercial shipments), production has been decreasing. Deliveries of NS dried raisins from producers to handlers reached an all-time high of 432,616 tons in the 2000–01 crop year. This large crop was preceded by two short crop years; deliveries were 240,469 tons in 1998–99 crop year and 299,910 tons in PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 1999–2000 crop year. Deliveries for the 2000–01 crop year soared to a record level because of increased bearing acreage and yields. Deliveries for the 2001–02 crop year were at 377,328 tons, 388,010 tons for the 2002–03 crop year, 296,864 for the 2003–04 crop year, and 265,262 tons for the 2004–05 crop year. After three crop years of high production and a large 2001–02 carryin inventory, the industry diverted raisin production to other uses or removed bearing vines. Diversions/removals totaled 38,000 acres in 2001; 27,000 acres in 2002; and 8,000 acres of vines in 2003. These actions resulted in declining deliveries of 296,864 tons for the 2003–04 crop year and 265,262 tons for the 2004–05 crop year. Although deliveries increased in 2005–06 crop E:\FR\FM\09MRR1.SGM 09MRR1 dwashington3 on PROD1PC60 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 44 / Monday, March 9, 2009 / Rules and Regulations year to 319,126 tons, this may have been because fewer growers opted to contract with wineries, as raisin variety grapes crushed in 2005–06 crop year decreased by 161,000 green tons, the equivalent of over 40,000 tons of raisins. In the 2006– 07 crop year, raisin deliveries were again less than 300,000 tons at 282,999 tons and increased to 329,288 tons in 2007–08 crop year. The 2007–08 crop year was considered to be a good crop and the quality of the crop has a direct bearing on the overall production. The order permits the industry to exercise volume regulation provisions, which allow for the establishment of free and reserve percentages, and establishment of a reserve pool. One of the primary purposes of establishing free and reserve percentages is to balance supply and demand. If raisin markets are over-supplied with product, producer prices will decline. Raisins are generally marketed at relatively lower price levels in the more elastic export market than in the more inelastic domestic market. This results in a larger volume of raisins being marketed and enhances producer returns. In addition, this system allows the U.S. raisin industry to be more competitive in export markets. The reserve percentage limits what handlers can market as free tonnage. Based on the 2008–09 crop year estimate of 313,231 tons, the 13 percent reserve would limit the total free tonnage to 273,863 natural condition tons (.87 × the 313,231 ton crop). Adding the 273,863 ton figure to the carryin of 106,249 tons, plus 39,368 tons of 2008–09 crop year reserve raisins anticipated for sale to handlers during the 2008–09 crop year under the 10 plus 10 offers, and 643 tons of 2007–08 crop year reserve raisins available to handlers in the 2008–09 crop year results in a total free supply of 420,123 natural condition tons. With volume regulation, producer prices are expected to be higher than without volume regulation. This price increase is beneficial to all producers regardless of size and enhances producers’ total revenues in comparison to no volume regulation. Establishing a reserve allows the industry to help stabilize supplies in both domestic and export markets, while improving returns to producers. Free and reserve percentages are established by varietal type, and usually in years when the supply exceeds the trade demand by a large enough margin that the Committee believes volume regulation is necessary to maintain market stability. Accordingly, in assessing whether to apply volume regulation or, as an alternative, not to VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:42 Mar 06, 2009 Jkt 217001 apply such regulation, it was determined that volume regulation is warranted this season for only one of the nine raisin varietal types defined under the order. The free and reserve percentages established by this rule release the full trade demand and apply uniformly to all handlers in the industry, regardless of size. For NS raisins, with the exception of the 1998–99 and 2004–05 crop years, small and large raisin producers and handlers have been operating under volume regulation percentages every year since the 1983– 84 crop year. There are no known additional costs incurred by small handlers that are not incurred by large handlers. While the level of benefits of this rulemaking are difficult to quantify, the stabilizing effects of the volume regulations impact small and large handlers positively by helping them maintain and expand markets even though raisin supplies fluctuate widely from season to season. Likewise, price stability positively impacts small and large producers by allowing them to better anticipate the revenues their raisins will generate. There are some reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements under the order. The reporting and recordkeeping requirements are necessary for compliance purposes and for developing statistical data for maintenance of the program. The requirements are the same as those applied in past seasons. Thus, this action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large raisin handlers. The forms require information which is readily available from handler records and which can be provided without data processing equipment or trained statistical staff. The information collection and recordkeeping requirements have been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control No. 0581–0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. 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. In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 9955 duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this rule. Further, the Committee’s meetings were widely publicized throughout the raisin industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meetings and participate in the Committee’s deliberations. Like all Committee meetings, the August 15, 2008, October 9, 2008, and December 18, 2008, meetings were public meetings and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their views on this issue. Also, the Committee has a number of appointed subcommittees to review certain issues and make recommendations to the Committee. The Committee’s Reserve Sales and Marketing Subcommittee met on August 15, 2008, October 9, 2008, and December 18 2008, and discussed these issues in detail. Those meetings were also public meetings and both large and small entities were able to participate and express their views. 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. 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/ AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplate Data.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. This rule invites comments on the establishment of final volume regulation percentages for the 2008–09 crop year for NS raisins covered under the order. Any comments received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule. 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 relevant provisions of this part require that the percentages E:\FR\FM\09MRR1.SGM 09MRR1 9956 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 44 / Monday, March 9, 2009 / Rules and Regulations designated herein for the 2008–09 crop year apply to all NS raisins acquired during the crop year; (2) handlers are aware of this action, which was unanimously recommended at a public meeting, and need no additional time to comply with these percentages; and (3) 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 989 Grapes, Marketing agreements, Raisins, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. ■ For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 989 is amended to read as followed: PART 989—RAISINS PRODUCED FROM GRAPES GROWN IN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 989 continues to read as follows: ■ Crop year 2003–04 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 ...................................................................... ...................................................................... ...................................................................... ...................................................................... ...................................................................... Dated: March 3, 2009. Robert C. Keeney, Acting Associate Administrator. [FR Doc. E9–4851 Filed 3–6–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket No. USCG–2009–0063] RIN 1625–AA00 Safety Zone; Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco Airborne Use of Force Judgmental Training Flights Coast Guard, DHS. Temporary final rule. AGENCY: The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone in the navigable waters of the San Pablo Bay, CA for training purposes. This safety zone is established to ensure the safety of the public and participating crews from potential hazards associated with fast-moving Coast Guard smallboats taking part in the exercise. Unauthorized persons or vessels are prohibited from entering into, transiting through, or remaining in the safety zone without permission of the Captain of the Port San Francisco or his designated representative. dwashington3 on PROD1PC60 with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:42 Mar 06, 2009 2. Section 989.257 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 989.257 Final free and reserve percentages. (a) The final percentages for the respective varietal type(s) of raisins acquired by handlers during the crop year beginning August 1, which shall be free tonnage and reserve tonnage, respectively, are designated as follows: Free percentage Varietal type (b) The volume regulation percentages apply to acquisitions of the varietal type of raisins for the applicable crop year until the reserve raisins for that crop are disposed of under the marketing order. ACTION: Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. Jkt 217001 Natural Natural Natural Natural Natural (sun-dried) (sun-dried) (sun-dried) (sun-dried) (sun-dried) Seedless Seedless Seedless Seedless Seedless ..................................... ..................................... ..................................... ..................................... ..................................... DATES: This safety zone is effective from 9 a.m. on February 10, 2009, until 10 p.m. on March 20, 2009. ADDRESSES: Comments and materials received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket USCG–2009–0063 and are available online at https:// www.regulations.gov, selecting the Advanced Docket Search option on the right side of the screen, inserting USCG– 2009–0063 in the Docket ID box, pressing Enter, and then clicking on the item in the Docket ID column. This material is also available for inspection or copying at two locations: The Docket Management Facility (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, and Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, 1 Yerba Buena Island, San Francisco, California 94130, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this temporary rule, call Lieutenant Junior Grade Megan Clifford, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, at (415) 399–7436. If you have questions on viewing the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202–366– 9826. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulatory Information Due to the dynamic availability of Coast Guard assets to conduct this training, the Coast Guard is issuing this PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 70 82.50 90 85 87 Reserve percentage 30 17.50 10 15 13 final rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section (a)(1) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553). This provision creates a military function exception to the advance publication requirements. Because of the potential hazards posed by this exercise, the safety zone is necessary to provide for the safety of the public, participating vessels and crews, and other vessels transiting the area. For the safety concerns noted, it is in the public interest to have these regulations in effect during the event. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because any delay in the effective date of this rule would expose mariners to the potential hazards posed by the exercises. For the same reasons as above, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Background and Purpose U.S. Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco will be conducting airborne use of force judgmental training flights with observers from the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center and Coast Guard Headquarters, on February 10, and March 5 through 20, 2009 (excluding Saturdays and Sundays), in the waters of San Pablo Bay. The exercises are designed to train and test Coast Guard aviation personnel in the judgmental decision-making process necessary to safely and effectively employ use of force from a helicopter E:\FR\FM\09MRR1.SGM 09MRR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 44 (Monday, March 9, 2009)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 9951-9956]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-4851]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 989

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-08-0114; FV09-989-1 IFR]


Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Final Free and 
Reserve Percentages for 2008-09 Crop Natural (Sun-Dried) Seedless 
Raisins

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This rule establishes final volume regulation percentages for 
2008-09 crop Natural (sun-dried) Seedless (NS) raisins covered under 
the Federal marketing order for California raisins (order). The order 
regulates the handling of raisins produced from grapes grown in 
California and is locally administered by the Raisin Administrative 
Committee (Committee). The volume regulation percentages are 87 percent 
free and 13

[[Page 9952]]

percent reserve. The percentages are intended to help stabilize raisin 
supplies and prices, and strengthen market conditions.

DATES: Effective March 10, 2009. The volume regulation percentages 
apply to acquisitions of NS raisins from the 2008-09 crop until the 
reserve raisins from that crop are disposed of under the marketing 
order. Comments received by May 8, 2009, 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: https://
www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the document number 
and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and 
will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the 
Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http:/
/www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this rule 
will be included in the record and will be made available to the 
public. Please be advised that the identity of the individuals or 
entities submitting the comments will be made public on the Internet at 
the address provided above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rose M. Aguayo, 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: 
Rose.Aguayo@ams.usda.gov or Kurt.Kimmel@ams.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@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement and Order No. 989, both as amended (7 CFR part 989), 
regulating the handling of raisins produced from grapes 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.''
    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 order provisions now in effect, final free 
and reserve percentages may be established for raisins acquired by 
handlers during the crop year. This rule establishes final free and 
reserve percentages for NS raisins for the 2008-09 crop year, which 
began August 1, 2008, and ends July 31, 2009. 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 establishes final volume regulation percentages for the 
2008-09 crop year for NS raisins covered under the order. The volume 
regulation percentages are 87 percent free and 13 percent reserve. Free 
tonnage raisins may be sold by handlers to any market. Reserve raisins 
must be held in a pool for the account of the Committee and are 
disposed of through various programs authorized under the order. For 
example, reserve raisins may be sold by the Committee to handlers for 
free use or to replace part of the free tonnage raisins they exported; 
used in diversion programs; carried over as a hedge against a short 
crop; or disposed of in other outlets not competitive with those for 
free tonnage raisins, such as government purchase, distilleries, or 
animal feed.
    The volume regulation percentages are intended to help stabilize 
raisin supplies and prices, and strengthen market conditions. The 
Committee unanimously recommended final percentages for NS raisins on 
December 18, 2008.

Computation of Trade Demand

    Section 989.54 of the order prescribes procedures and time frames 
to be followed in establishing volume regulation. This includes 
methodology used to calculate free and reserve percentages. Pursuant to 
Sec.  989.54(a) of the order, the Committee met on August 15, 2008, to 
review shipment and inventory data, and other matters relating to the 
supplies of raisins of all varietal types. The Committee computed a 
trade demand for each varietal type for which a free tonnage percentage 
might be recommended. Trade demand is computed using a formula 
specified in the order and, for each varietal type, is equal to 90 
percent of the prior year's shipments of free tonnage and reserve 
tonnage raisins sold for free use into all market outlets, adjusted by 
subtracting the carryin on August 1 of the current crop year, and 
adding the desirable carryout at the end of that crop year. As 
specified in Sec.  989.154(a), the desirable carryout for NS raisins 
shall equal the total shipments of free tonnage during August and 
September for each of the past 5 crop years, converted to a natural 
condition basis, dropping the high and low figures, and dividing the 
remaining sum by three, or 60,000 natural condition tons, whichever is 
higher. For all other varietal types, the desirable carryout shall 
equal the total shipments of free tonnage during August, September and 
one-half of October for each of the past 5 crop years, converted to a 
natural condition basis, dropping the high and low figures, and 
dividing the remaining sum by three. In accordance with these 
provisions, the Committee computed and announced the 2008-09 trade 
demand for NS raisins at 273,863 tons as shown below.

                          Computed Trade Demand
                        [Natural condition tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              NS Raisins
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prior year's shipments.....................................      355,680
Multiplied by 90 percent...................................         0.90
Equals adjusted base.......................................      320,112
Minus carryin inventory....................................      106,249
Plus desirable carryout....................................       60,000
Equals computed NS trade Demand............................      273,863
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Computation of Volume Regulation Percentages

    Section 989.54(b) of the order requires that the Committee 
announce, on or before October 5, preliminary crop estimates and 
determine whether volume regulation is warranted for the varietal types 
for which it computed a trade demand. That section allows the

[[Page 9953]]

Committee to extend the October 5 date up to 5 business days if 
warranted by a late crop. If the Committee determines that volume 
regulation is warranted, it must also compute and announce preliminary 
free and reserve percentages. Section 989.54(c) provides that the 
Committee may modify the preliminary free and reserve percentages prior 
to February 15 by announcing interim percentages which release less 
than the trade demand. Section 989.54(d) requires the Committee to 
recommend final percentages no later than February 15 which will tend 
to release the full trade demand. Final percentages are established by 
USDA through informal rulemaking.
    The Committee met on October 9, 2008, and announced a 2008-09 crop 
estimate of 300,000 tons for NS raisins pursuant to Sec.  989.54(b). NS 
raisins are the major varietal type of California raisin. The crop 
estimate of 300,000 tons was higher than the computed trade demand of 
273,863 tons. Thus, it was determined that volume regulation for NS 
raisins was warranted. Preliminary volume regulation percentages 
computed to 78 percent free and 22 percent reserve to release 85 
percent of the computed trade demand.
    Pursuant to Sec.  989.54(c), at its December 18, 2008, meeting, the 
Committee announced a revised crop estimate of 313,231 tons of NS 
raisins (up from the October estimate of 300,000 tons). The Committee 
announced interim volume regulation percentages for NS raisins to 
release slightly less than the full trade demand at 86.75 percent free 
and 13.25 percent reserve and recommended final volume regulation 
percentages of 87 percent free and 13 percent reserve pursuant to Sec.  
989.54(d). The Committee's calculations and determinations to arrive at 
final percentages for NS raisins are shown in the table below:

                   Final Volume Regulation Percentages
                        [Natural condition tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              NS Raisins
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Trade demand...............................................      273,863
Divided by crop estimate...................................      313,231
Equals the free percentage.................................        87.00
100 minus free percentage equals the reserve percentage....        13.00
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    USDA's ``Guidelines for Fruit, Vegetable, and Specialty Crop 
Marketing Orders'' (Guidelines) specify that 110 percent of recent 
years' sales should be made available to primary markets each season 
for marketing orders utilizing reserve pool authority. This goal is 
expected to be met for NS raisins for the 2008-09 crop year. 
Application of the final percentages will make 273,863 tons of raisins 
available to handlers if the crop estimate is realized. In addition, 
handlers will be offered additional reserve raisins for sale under the 
``10 plus 10 offers.'' As specified in Sec.  989.54(g), the 10 plus 10 
offers are two offers of reserve pool raisins which are made available 
to handlers during each season. For each such offer, a quantity of 
reserve raisins equal to 10 percent of the prior year's shipments is 
made available to handlers for free use. Handlers may sell their 10 
plus 10 raisins to any market.
    Based on 2007-08 NS shipments of 355,680 natural condition tons, 
71,136 tons should be made available in the 10 plus 10 offers. However, 
based on the 313,231-ton crop estimate and the 273,863-ton trade 
demand, only 39,368 tons of 2008-09 reserve raisins would be available. 
There is no tonnage available from prior pools. Thus, all available 
reserve pool raisins should be offered to handlers for free use through 
the 10 plus 10 offers. Raisins that are not purchased by handlers 
through the 10 plus 10 offers may be used for other programs authorized 
under the order.
    In addition to the 10 plus 10 offers, Sec.  989.67(j) of the order 
provides authority for sales of reserve raisins to handlers under 
certain conditions such as a national emergency, crop failure, change 
in economic or marketing conditions, or if free tonnage shipments in 
the current crop year exceed shipments during a comparable period of 
the prior crop year. Pursuant to Sec.  989.67(j), 643 tons of 2007-08 
reserve raisins were sold to handlers in August 2008.
    Adding the estimated figure of 39,368 tons of 10 plus 10 raisins to 
the 273,863-ton trade demand, plus 106,249 tons of carryin inventory, 
plus 643 tons of reserve raisins sold pursuant to Sec.  989.67(j) 
results in a total supply of 420,123 tons of natural condition raisins, 
or 397,054 packed tons. This equates to 118 percent of the 2007-08 
shipments of 355,680 natural condition tons or 336,150 packed tons.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), 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. Thus, both statutes have small 
entity orientation and compatibility.
    There are approximately 18 handlers of California raisins who are 
subject to regulation under the order and approximately 3,000 raisin 
producers in the regulated area. Small agricultural firms are defined 
by the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) as those 
having annual receipts of less than $7,000,000, and small agricultural 
producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than 
$750,000. No more than 7 handlers and a majority of producers of 
California raisins may be classified as small entities.
    Since 1949, the California raisin industry has operated under a 
Federal marketing order. The order contains authority to, among other 
things, limit the portion of a given year's crop that can be marketed 
freely in any outlet by raisin handlers. This volume regulation 
mechanism is used to stabilize supplies and prices and strengthen 
market conditions. If the primary market (the normal domestic market) 
is over-supplied with raisins, grower prices decline substantially.
    Pursuant to Sec.  989.54(d) of the order, this rule establishes 
final volume regulation percentages for the 2008-09 crop year for NS 
raisins. The volume regulation percentages are 87 percent free and 13 
percent reserve. Free tonnage raisins may be sold by handlers to any 
market. Reserve raisins must be held in a pool for the account of the 
Committee and are disposed of through certain programs authorized under 
the order. Volume regulation is warranted this season because the crop 
estimate of 313,231 tons is significantly higher than the 273,863 ton 
trade demand.
    The volume regulation procedures have helped the industry address 
its marketing problems by keeping supplies in balance with domestic and 
export market needs, and strengthening market conditions. The volume 
regulation procedures fully supply the domestic and export markets, 
provide for market expansion, and help reduce the burden of 
oversupplies in the domestic market.
    Raisin grapes are a perennial crop, so production in any year is 
dependent upon plantings made in earlier years. The sun-drying method 
of producing raisins involves considerable risk because of variable 
weather patterns.

[[Page 9954]]

    Even though the product and the industry are viewed as mature, the 
industry has experienced considerable change over the last several 
decades. Before the 1975-76 crop year, more than 50 percent of the 
raisins were packed and sold directly to consumers. Now, about 62 
percent of raisins are sold in bulk. This means that raisins are now 
sold to consumers mostly as an ingredient in another product such as 
cereal and baked goods. In addition, for a few years in the early 
1970's, over 50 percent of the raisin grapes were sold to the wine 
market for crushing. Since then, the percent of raisin-variety grapes 
sold to the wine industry has decreased.
    California's grapes are classified into three groups--table grapes, 
wine grapes, and raisin-variety grapes. Raisin-variety grapes are the 
most versatile of the three types. They can be marketed as fresh 
grapes, crushed for juice in the production of wine or juice 
concentrate, or dried into raisins. Annual fluctuations in the fresh 
grape, wine, and concentrate markets, as well as weather-related 
factors, cause fluctuations in raisin supply. This type of situation 
introduces a certain amount of variability into the raisin market. 
Although the size of the crop for raisin-variety grapes may be known, 
the amount dried for raisins depends on the demand for crushing. This 
makes the marketing of raisins a more difficult task. These supply 
fluctuations can result in producer price instability and disorderly 
market conditions.
    Volume regulation is helpful to the raisin industry because it 
lessens the impact of such fluctuations and contributes to orderly 
marketing. For example, producer prices for NS raisins remained fairly 
steady between the 1993-94 through the 1997-98 crop years, although 
production varied. As shown in the table below, during those years, 
production varied from a low of 272,063 tons in 1996-97 to a high of 
387,007 tons in 1993-94.
    According to Committee data, the total producer return per ton 
during those years, which includes proceeds from both free tonnage plus 
reserve pool raisins, has varied from a low of $904.60 in 1993-94 to a 
high of $1,049.20 in 1996-97. Producer prices for the 1998-99 and 1999-
2000 crop years increased significantly due to back-to-back short crops 
during those years. Record large crops followed and producer prices 
dropped dramatically for the 2000-01 through 2003-04 crop years, as 
inventories grew while demand stagnated. However, as noted below, 
producer prices were higher for the 2004-05 through the 2007-08 crop 
years:

                Natural Seedless (Natural Condition) Deliveries, Field Prices and Producer Prices
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Deliveries        Field prices      Producer prices
                       Crop year                              (tons)         (per ton) \1\         (per ton)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2007-08...............................................            329,288          $1,210.00       \1\ $1,028.50
2006-07...............................................            282,999           1,210.00        \2\ 1,089.00
2005-06...............................................            319,126           1,210.00          \2\ 998.25
2004-05...............................................            265,262           1,210.00        \3\ 1,210.00
2003-04...............................................            296,864             810.00              567.00
2002-03...............................................            388,010             745.00              491.20
2001-02...............................................            377,328             880.00              650.94
2000-01...............................................            432,616             877.50              603.36
1999-2000.............................................            299,910           1,425.00            1,211.25
1998-99...............................................            240,469           1,290.00        \3\ 1,290.00
1997-98...............................................            382,448           1,250.00              946.52
1996-97...............................................            272,063           1,220.00            1,049.20
1995-96...............................................            325,911           1,160.00            1,007.19
1994-95...............................................            378,427           1,160.00              928.27
1993-94...............................................            387,007           1,155.00             904.60
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Field prices for NS raisins are established by the Raisin Bargaining Association, and are also referred to
  in the industry as the free tonnage price for raisins.
\2\ Return-to-date, reserve pool still open.
\3\ No volume regulation.

    There are essentially two broad markets for raisins--domestic and 
export. Domestic shipments generally increased over the years. Although 
domestic shipments decreased from a high of 204,805 packed tons during 
the 1990-91 crop year to a low of 156,325 packed tons in 1999-2000 crop 
year, they increased from 174,117 packed tons during the 2000-01 crop 
year to 193,609 packed tons during the 2007-08 crop year. Export 
shipments ranged from a high of 107,931 packed tons in 1991-92 crop 
year to a low of 91,599 packed tons in the 1999-2000 crop year. Since 
that time, export shipments increased to 106,755 tons of raisins during 
the 2004-05 crop year, fell to 101,684 tons in 2006-07 crop year, and 
again increased to 142,541 tons in 2007-08 crop year. This significant 
increase was due to a short crop in Turkey.
    The per capita consumption of raisins has declined from 2.07 pounds 
in 1988 to 1.51 pounds in 2006. This decrease is consistent with the 
decrease in the per capita consumption of dried fruits in general, 
which is due to the increasing availability of most types of fresh 
fruit throughout the year.
    While the overall demand for raisins has increased in four of the 
last five years (as reflected in increased commercial shipments), 
production has been decreasing. Deliveries of NS dried raisins from 
producers to handlers reached an all-time high of 432,616 tons in the 
2000-01 crop year. This large crop was preceded by two short crop 
years; deliveries were 240,469 tons in 1998-99 crop year and 299,910 
tons in 1999-2000 crop year. Deliveries for the 2000-01 crop year 
soared to a record level because of increased bearing acreage and 
yields. Deliveries for the 2001-02 crop year were at 377,328 tons, 
388,010 tons for the 2002-03 crop year, 296,864 for the 2003-04 crop 
year, and 265,262 tons for the 2004-05 crop year. After three crop 
years of high production and a large 2001-02 carryin inventory, the 
industry diverted raisin production to other uses or removed bearing 
vines. Diversions/removals totaled 38,000 acres in 2001; 27,000 acres 
in 2002; and 8,000 acres of vines in 2003. These actions resulted in 
declining deliveries of 296,864 tons for the 2003-04 crop year and 
265,262 tons for the 2004-05 crop year. Although deliveries increased 
in 2005-06 crop

[[Page 9955]]

year to 319,126 tons, this may have been because fewer growers opted to 
contract with wineries, as raisin variety grapes crushed in 2005-06 
crop year decreased by 161,000 green tons, the equivalent of over 
40,000 tons of raisins. In the 2006-07 crop year, raisin deliveries 
were again less than 300,000 tons at 282,999 tons and increased to 
329,288 tons in 2007-08 crop year. The 2007-08 crop year was considered 
to be a good crop and the quality of the crop has a direct bearing on 
the overall production.
    The order permits the industry to exercise volume regulation 
provisions, which allow for the establishment of free and reserve 
percentages, and establishment of a reserve pool. One of the primary 
purposes of establishing free and reserve percentages is to balance 
supply and demand. If raisin markets are over-supplied with product, 
producer prices will decline.
    Raisins are generally marketed at relatively lower price levels in 
the more elastic export market than in the more inelastic domestic 
market. This results in a larger volume of raisins being marketed and 
enhances producer returns. In addition, this system allows the U.S. 
raisin industry to be more competitive in export markets.
    The reserve percentage limits what handlers can market as free 
tonnage. Based on the 2008-09 crop year estimate of 313,231 tons, the 
13 percent reserve would limit the total free tonnage to 273,863 
natural condition tons (.87 x the 313,231 ton crop). Adding the 273,863 
ton figure to the carryin of 106,249 tons, plus 39,368 tons of 2008-09 
crop year reserve raisins anticipated for sale to handlers during the 
2008-09 crop year under the 10 plus 10 offers, and 643 tons of 2007-08 
crop year reserve raisins available to handlers in the 2008-09 crop 
year results in a total free supply of 420,123 natural condition tons.
    With volume regulation, producer prices are expected to be higher 
than without volume regulation. This price increase is beneficial to 
all producers regardless of size and enhances producers' total revenues 
in comparison to no volume regulation. Establishing a reserve allows 
the industry to help stabilize supplies in both domestic and export 
markets, while improving returns to producers.
    Free and reserve percentages are established by varietal type, and 
usually in years when the supply exceeds the trade demand by a large 
enough margin that the Committee believes volume regulation is 
necessary to maintain market stability. Accordingly, in assessing 
whether to apply volume regulation or, as an alternative, not to apply 
such regulation, it was determined that volume regulation is warranted 
this season for only one of the nine raisin varietal types defined 
under the order.
    The free and reserve percentages established by this rule release 
the full trade demand and apply uniformly to all handlers in the 
industry, regardless of size. For NS raisins, with the exception of the 
1998-99 and 2004-05 crop years, small and large raisin producers and 
handlers have been operating under volume regulation percentages every 
year since the 1983-84 crop year. There are no known additional costs 
incurred by small handlers that are not incurred by large handlers. 
While the level of benefits of this rulemaking are difficult to 
quantify, the stabilizing effects of the volume regulations impact 
small and large handlers positively by helping them maintain and expand 
markets even though raisin supplies fluctuate widely from season to 
season. Likewise, price stability positively impacts small and large 
producers by allowing them to better anticipate the revenues their 
raisins will generate.
    There are some reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance 
requirements under the order. The reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements are necessary for compliance purposes and for developing 
statistical data for maintenance of the program. The requirements are 
the same as those applied in past seasons. Thus, this action imposes no 
additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or 
large raisin handlers. The forms require information which is readily 
available from handler records and which can be provided without data 
processing equipment or trained statistical staff. The information 
collection and recordkeeping requirements have been previously approved 
by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control No. 
0581-0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. 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.
    In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules 
that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    Further, the Committee's meetings were widely publicized throughout 
the raisin industry and all interested persons were invited to attend 
the meetings and participate in the Committee's deliberations. Like all 
Committee meetings, the August 15, 2008, October 9, 2008, and December 
18, 2008, meetings were public meetings and all entities, both large 
and small, were able to express their views on this issue.
    Also, the Committee has a number of appointed subcommittees to 
review certain issues and make recommendations to the Committee. The 
Committee's Reserve Sales and Marketing Subcommittee met on August 15, 
2008, October 9, 2008, and December 18 2008, and discussed these issues 
in detail. Those meetings were also public meetings and both large and 
small entities were able to participate and express their views. 
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.
    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.
    This rule invites comments on the establishment of final volume 
regulation percentages for the 2008-09 crop year for NS raisins covered 
under the order. Any comments received will be considered prior to 
finalization of this rule.
    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 relevant provisions of this part require that 
the percentages

[[Page 9956]]

designated herein for the 2008-09 crop year apply to all NS raisins 
acquired during the crop year; (2) handlers are aware of this action, 
which was unanimously recommended at a public meeting, and need no 
additional time to comply with these percentages; and (3) 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 989

    Grapes, Marketing agreements, Raisins, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

0
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 989 is amended to 
read as followed:

PART 989--RAISINS PRODUCED FROM GRAPES GROWN IN CALIFORNIA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 989 continues to read as 
follows:

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

0
2. Section 989.257 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  989.257  Final free and reserve percentages.

    (a) The final percentages for the respective varietal type(s) of 
raisins acquired by handlers during the crop year beginning August 1, 
which shall be free tonnage and reserve tonnage, respectively, are 
designated as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       Free           Reserve
                   Crop year                              Varietal type             percentage      percentage
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2003-04.......................................  Natural (sun-dried) Seedless....           70              30
2005-06.......................................  Natural (sun-dried) Seedless....           82.50           17.50
2006-07.......................................  Natural (sun-dried) Seedless....           90              10
2007-08.......................................  Natural (sun-dried) Seedless....           85              15
2008-09.......................................  Natural (sun-dried) Seedless....           87              13
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) The volume regulation percentages apply to acquisitions of the 
varietal type of raisins for the applicable crop year until the reserve 
raisins for that crop are disposed of under the marketing order.

    Dated: March 3, 2009.
Robert C. Keeney,
Acting Associate Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E9-4851 Filed 3-6-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P