Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Change in Maturity Requirements, 55351-55354 [2014-22052]

Download as PDF 55351 Rules and Regulations Federal Register Vol. 79, No. 179 Tuesday, September 16, 2014 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. 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. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Parts 915 and 944 [Doc. No. AMS–FV–14–0051; FV14–915–1 IR] Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Change in Maturity Requirements Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments. AGENCY: This rule changes the maturity requirements currently prescribed under the Florida avocado marketing order (order). The order regulates the handling of avocados grown in South Florida and is administered locally by the Avocado Administrative Committee (Committee). The corresponding change in the avocado import regulation is required under section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. This rule changes the maturity shipping schedule to allow certain sizes and weights of the Choquette avocado variety to be shipped to the fresh market earlier. With this change, the maturity schedule will better reflect the current maturity rate for the Choquette variety, facilitating the shipment of this variety as it matures. DATES: Effective September 19, 2014; comments received by November 17, 2014 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 and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Fax: (202) 720–8938; or Internet: http:// asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Sep 15, 2014 Jkt 232001 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: Doris Jamieson, Marketing Specialist, or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Director, Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324– 3375, Fax: (863) 325–8793, or Email: Doris.Jamieson@ams.usda.gov or Christian.Nissen@ams.usda.gov. Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Telephone: (202) 720– 2491, Fax: (202) 720–8938, or Email: Jeffrey.Smutny@ams.usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement No. 121 and Marketing Order No. 915, both as amended (7 CFR part 915), regulating the handling of avocados grown in South Florida, hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘order.’’ The order is effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601–674), hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘Act.’’ This interim rule is also issued under section 8e of the Act (7 U.S.C. 608e), which provides that whenever certain specified commodities including avocados, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of these commodities into the United States are prohibited unless they meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, or maturity requirements as those in effect for domestically produced commodities. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175. PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA’s ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling. There are no administrative procedures which must be exhausted prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of import regulations issued under section 8e of the Act. This rule changes the maturity requirements prescribed under the order. This rule changes the maturity shipping schedule to allow certain sizes and weights of the Choquette avocado variety to be shipped to the fresh market earlier. With this change, the maturity schedule will better reflect the current maturity rate for the Choquette variety, facilitating the shipment of this variety as it matures. This rule was unanimously recommended by the Committee at its April 9, 2014, meeting. Section 915.51 of the order provides, in part, authority to issue regulations establishing specific maturity requirements for avocados. Section 915.52 of the order provides authority for the modification, suspension, or termination of established regulations. The maturity requirements for avocados grown in Florida are specified in § 915.332 of the order’s rules and regulations. These requirements specify minimum weights and diameters to delineate specific shipping time frames for avocados. Maturity requirements for avocados imported into the United States are currently in effect under § 944.31. E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 55352 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 179 / Tuesday, September 16, 2014 / Rules and Regulations The maturity requirements are designed to prevent the shipment of immature avocados. This helps to provide buyer confidence and consumer satisfaction essential for the successful marketing of the crop. The maturity schedule is usually divided into A, B, C, and D dates reflecting when a particular variety matures. Larger fruit within a variety mature earlier, while smallersized fruit take longer to mature. Consequently, the A dates are established so only the largest, most mature fruit are available for market for each variety early in its season. The D date marks the end of a variety’s season when all fruit should be mature and releases all sizes and weights. The maturity requirements for the various varieties of avocados are different, as each variety has different growing and maturation characteristics. These dates are established based on a testing procedure developed in conjunction with USDA. At the request of the Committee, Committee staff began pulling samples of the Choquette variety and testing the level of maturity. The Committee believed that due to cultural practices the variety might be maturing earlier, and the current B, C, and D dates might need to be adjusted. Following three years of testing, a maturity subcommittee reviewed the sample testing on the Choquette variety. Based on their review of the data, the subcommittee agreed that some weights and sizes were maturing earlier, and recommended to the full Committee that the B, C, and D dates for Choquettes each be moved up one week, respectively. The subcommittee concluded that these revised dates will better reflect the current maturity rate for Choquettes. The Committee agreed the changes will help facilitate the shipment of this variety as it matures, and will continue to ensure that the consumer will receive a quality avocado. Consequently, the Committee unanimously approved the change in dates. This rule changes the B date for Choquettes listed on the maturity schedule from October 17 to October 10. This rule also changes the C date for Choquettes from October 31 to October 24, and the D date from November 14 to November 7. The corresponding sizes and weights associated with these dates remain unchanged. The dates on the maturity schedule are the basis for calculating the actual shipping dates (A, B, C, D dates) for each individual season. The actual shipping dates for an individual year are established as the Monday nearest to the date specified in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Sep 15, 2014 Jkt 232001 the maturity schedule as specified in § 915.332. Section 8e of the Act provides that when certain domestically produced commodities, including avocados, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of that commodity must meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements. Since this rule changes the maturity requirements under the domestic handling regulations for avocados, a corresponding change to the import regulations must also be considered. Maturity requirements for avocados imported into the United States are currently in effect under § 944.31. The same revisions of maturity dates will be made to § 944.31 as are being made to § 915.332. The Hass, Fuerte, Zutano, and Edranol varieties of avocados currently are exempt from the maturity schedule, and continue to be exempt under this rule. However, these varieties are not exempt from the import grade regulation, which is not being changed by this action. As it is the only marketing order covering avocados, import requirements are based on the marketing order for avocados grown in South Florida. The revised shipping dates for Choquette variety avocados better reflect the current maturity rate for Choquettes and will help facilitate moving mature fruit to the fresh market. This change benefits importers as well as domestic growers and handlers. 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 businesses 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. Import regulations issued under the Act are based on those established under Federal marketing orders. There are approximately 30 handlers of Florida avocados subject to regulation under the order and approximately 300 producers of avocados in the production area. There are approximately 70 importers of West Indian and Guatemalan type avocado varieties like those grown in Florida. Small PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 agricultural service firms, which include avocado handlers and importers, are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those whose annual receipts are less than $7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201). According to Committee data and information from the National Agricultural Statistical Service, the average price for Florida avocados during the 2011–12 season was approximately $20.79 per 55-pound bushel container and total shipments were slightly higher than 1.2 million 55pound bushels. Using the average price and shipment information, the majority of avocado handlers could be considered small businesses under SBA’s definition. In addition, based on avocado production, producer prices, and the total number of Florida avocado producers, the average annual producer revenue is less than $750,000. Information from the Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, indicates that the dollar value of imported West Indian and Guatemalan type avocados was $15.5 million in 2013. Using these values, most importers would have annual receipts of less than $7,000,000 for avocados. Consequently, the majority of avocado handlers, producers, and importers may be classified as small entities. The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Costa Rica, are the major production areas of avocado varieties other than Hass exporting avocados to the United States. In 2013, shipments of these type avocados imported into the United States totaled around 14,500 metric tons. Of that amount, 14,400 metric tons were imported from the Dominican Republic, 63 metric tons were imported from Peru, and 21 metric tons arrived from Costa Rica. Mexico, Chile, and Peru are the major Hass type avocado producing countries exporting avocados to the United States. In 2013, shipments of Hass type avocados imported into the United States totaled around 548,000 metric tons. Mexico accounted for 500,000 metric tons, with 23,400 metric tons from Chile, and 21,500 metric tons from Peru. This rule changes the maturity requirements prescribed under the order’s rules and regulations. This rule changes the maturity shipping schedule to allow certain sizes and weights of the Choquette avocado variety to be shipped to the fresh market earlier and makes a corresponding change to the avocado import regulation. With this change, the maturity schedule will better reflect the current maturity rate for the Choquette E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1 55353 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 179 / Tuesday, September 16, 2014 / Rules and Regulations variety, facilitating the shipment of this variety as it matures. Authority for this change is provided in §§ 915.51 and 915.52. This rule amends the provisions in §§ 915.332 and 944.31. This rule was unanimously recommended by the Committee at its April 9, 2014, meeting. The change in the import regulation is required under section 8e of the Act. This action is not expected to increase the costs associated with the order’s requirements or the avocado import regulation. Rather, it is anticipated that this action will have a beneficial impact. Based on several seasons of maturity testing, the Committee recommended moving the B, C, and D dates on the maturity schedule forward one week, respectively, for the Choquette variety allowing the associated sizes and weights to be shipped to the fresh market earlier. The revised dates better reflect the current maturity rate for Choquettes, and will facilitate the shipment of this variety as it matures, while continuing to ensure that only mature fruit is shipped to the fresh market. The benefits of this rule are expected to be equally available to all fresh avocado growers, handlers, and importers, regardless of their size. Regarding alternatives to this action, the Committee considered making no change to the requirements or waiting for additional testing. However, they determined that there was sufficient data to warrant making these changes. Therefore, this alternative was rejected. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the order’s information collection requirements have been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB No. 0581–0189, (Generic Fruit Crops). No changes in those requirements as a result of this action are necessary. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval. This rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large avocado handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule. Further, the Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the Florida avocado industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like all Committee meetings, the April 9, 2014, meeting was a public meeting 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 Board. The Committee’s maturity subcommittee met on April 4, 2014, and discussed this issue in detail. That meeting was also a public meeting 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 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/ MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. This rule invites comments on a change to the maturity requirements currently prescribed under the Florida avocado marketing order and avocado import requirements. Any comments received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule. After consideration of all relevant material presented, including the Committee’s recommendation, and other information, it is found that this interim rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act. In accordance with section 8e of the Act, the United States Trade Representative has concurred with the issuance of this interim rule. 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) These changes relax current requirements for the Choquette variety, allowing some fruit to ship earlier; (2) the Committee unanimously recommended these changes at a public meeting and interested parties had an opportunity to provide input; and (3) this rule provides a 60-day comment period and any comments received will be considered prior to finalization of this rule. List of Subjects 7 CFR Part 915 Avocados, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 7 CFR Part 944 Avocados, Food grades and standards, Grapefruit, Grapes, Imports, Kiwifruit, Limes, Olives, Oranges. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR parts 915 and 944 are amended as follows: PART 915—AVOCADOS GROWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 915 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. In § 915.332, Table I, the entry for ‘‘Choquette’’ is revised to read as follows: ■ § 915.332 Florida avocado maturity regulation. (a) * * * (2) * * * asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES TABLE I Variety A date Min. wt. Min. diam. B date Min. wt. Min. diam. C date Min. wt. Min. diam. * * Choquette .......................................................... * 9–26 28 * 44⁄16 10–10 * 24 41⁄16 * 10–24 20 314⁄16 * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * 16:12 Sep 15, 2014 * Jkt 232001 PO 00000 * Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 * Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM * 16SER1 D date * 11–7 * 55354 * Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 179 / Tuesday, September 16, 2014 / Rules and Regulations * * * Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. * § 944.31 Avocado import maturity regulation. 4. In § 944.31, Table I, the entry for ‘‘Choquette’’ is revised to read as follows: ■ PART 944—FRUITS; IMPORT REGULATIONS 3. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 944 continues to read as follows: ■ (a) * * * (2) * * * TABLE I Variety A date Min. wt. Min. diam. B date Min. wt. Min. diam. C date Min. wt. Min. diam. * * Choquette .......................................................... * 9–26 28 * 44⁄16 10–10 * 24 41⁄16 * 10–24 20 314⁄16 * * * * * * * * Dated: September 11, 2014. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2014–22052 Filed 9–15–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA–2014–0220; Airspace Docket No. 14–AEA–5] Establishment of Class D Airspace and Amendment of Class E Airspace; Blackstone, VA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This action establishes Class D airspace and amends Class E airspace at Blackstone, VA, to accommodate the new air traffic control tower at Allen C Perkinson Blackstone Army Airfield. Controlled airspace is necessary for the safety and management of instrument flight rules (IFR) operations at the airfield. This action updates the geographic coordinates of the airfield’s Class E airspace, and adds exclusion of Restricted area airspace in Class D airspace. DATES: Effective 0901 UTC, November 13, 2014. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments. ADDRESSES: FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Sep 15, 2014 Jkt 232001 * * be viewed on line at http:// www.faa.gov/airtraffic/publications/. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202–741–6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/ federal_register/code_of_federalregulations/ibr_locations.html. FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and ATC Procedures Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 29591; telephone: 202– 267–8783. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Fornito, Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Federal Aviation Administration, P.O. Box 20636, Atlanta, Georgia 30320; telephone (404) 305–6364. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: History On May 23, 2014, the FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish Class D airspace and amend Class E airspace at Allen C Perkinson Blackstone Army Airfield, Blackstone, VA, (79–29696). Interested parties were invited to participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. No comments were received. Class D and E airspace designations are published in Paragraphs 5000 and 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.9Y, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class D and E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order. PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 * D date * 11–7 * The Rule This amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 establishes Class D airspace within a 4.2-mile radius of Allen C Perkinson Blackstone Army Airfield, Blackstone, VA, and amends Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.7-mile radius of the airfield, to support the operation of the new air traffic control tower. Also, the geographic coordinates of the airfield are adjusted to be in concert with the FAA’s aeronautical database. Additionally, this action amends the Class D description by adding the exclusion of that airspace within Restricted Area R–6602A and the Pickett 1 and 2 Military Operations Areas during the time those areas are active. Provisions to ensure the deconfliction between military activities and arrivals and departures at Allen C. Perkinson Blackstone Army Airfield will be specified in a Letter of Agreement between Air Traffic Control and the military using agencies. Except for the changes noted above, this rule is the same as published in the NPRM. The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current, is non-controversial and unlikely to result in adverse or negative comments. It, therefore, (1) is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a ‘‘significant rule’’ under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a Regulatory Evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1

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[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 179 (Tuesday, September 16, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 55351-55354]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-22052]



========================================================================
Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

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.

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.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 179 / Tuesday, September 16, 2014 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 55351]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Parts 915 and 944

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-14-0051; FV14-915-1 IR]


Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Change in 
Maturity Requirements

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This rule changes the maturity requirements currently 
prescribed under the Florida avocado marketing order (order). The order 
regulates the handling of avocados grown in South Florida and is 
administered locally by the Avocado Administrative Committee 
(Committee). The corresponding change in the avocado import regulation 
is required under section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement 
Act of 1937. This rule changes the maturity shipping schedule to allow 
certain sizes and weights of the Choquette avocado variety to be 
shipped to the fresh market earlier. With this change, the maturity 
schedule will better reflect the current maturity rate for the 
Choquette variety, facilitating the shipment of this variety as it 
matures.

DATES: Effective September 19, 2014; comments received by November 17, 
2014 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 and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or Internet: http://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: Doris Jamieson, Marketing Specialist, 
or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Director, Southeast Marketing Field 
Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable 
Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324-3375, Fax: (863) 325-8793, or 
Email: Doris.Jamieson@ams.usda.gov or Christian.Nissen@ams.usda.gov.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement 
Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence 
Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-
2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: Jeffrey.Smutny@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement No. 121 and Marketing Order No. 915, both as amended (7 CFR 
part 915), regulating the handling of avocados grown in South Florida, 
hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' The order is effective under 
the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 
601-674), hereinafter referred to as the ``Act.''
    This interim rule is also issued under section 8e of the Act (7 
U.S.C. 608e), which provides that whenever certain specified 
commodities including avocados, are regulated under a Federal marketing 
order, imports of these commodities into the United States are 
prohibited unless they meet the same or comparable grade, size, 
quality, or maturity requirements as those in effect for domestically 
produced commodities.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the 
Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition 
stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation 
imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and 
request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A 
handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. 
After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides 
that the district court of the United States in any district in which 
the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of 
business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    There are no administrative procedures which must be exhausted 
prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of import regulations 
issued under section 8e of the Act.
    This rule changes the maturity requirements prescribed under the 
order. This rule changes the maturity shipping schedule to allow 
certain sizes and weights of the Choquette avocado variety to be 
shipped to the fresh market earlier. With this change, the maturity 
schedule will better reflect the current maturity rate for the 
Choquette variety, facilitating the shipment of this variety as it 
matures. This rule was unanimously recommended by the Committee at its 
April 9, 2014, meeting.
    Section 915.51 of the order provides, in part, authority to issue 
regulations establishing specific maturity requirements for avocados. 
Section 915.52 of the order provides authority for the modification, 
suspension, or termination of established regulations. The maturity 
requirements for avocados grown in Florida are specified in Sec.  
915.332 of the order's rules and regulations. These requirements 
specify minimum weights and diameters to delineate specific shipping 
time frames for avocados. Maturity requirements for avocados imported 
into the United States are currently in effect under Sec.  944.31.

[[Page 55352]]

    The maturity requirements are designed to prevent the shipment of 
immature avocados. This helps to provide buyer confidence and consumer 
satisfaction essential for the successful marketing of the crop. The 
maturity schedule is usually divided into A, B, C, and D dates 
reflecting when a particular variety matures. Larger fruit within a 
variety mature earlier, while smaller-sized fruit take longer to 
mature. Consequently, the A dates are established so only the largest, 
most mature fruit are available for market for each variety early in 
its season. The D date marks the end of a variety's season when all 
fruit should be mature and releases all sizes and weights. The maturity 
requirements for the various varieties of avocados are different, as 
each variety has different growing and maturation characteristics. 
These dates are established based on a testing procedure developed in 
conjunction with USDA.
    At the request of the Committee, Committee staff began pulling 
samples of the Choquette variety and testing the level of maturity. The 
Committee believed that due to cultural practices the variety might be 
maturing earlier, and the current B, C, and D dates might need to be 
adjusted. Following three years of testing, a maturity subcommittee 
reviewed the sample testing on the Choquette variety. Based on their 
review of the data, the subcommittee agreed that some weights and sizes 
were maturing earlier, and recommended to the full Committee that the 
B, C, and D dates for Choquettes each be moved up one week, 
respectively. The subcommittee concluded that these revised dates will 
better reflect the current maturity rate for Choquettes. The Committee 
agreed the changes will help facilitate the shipment of this variety as 
it matures, and will continue to ensure that the consumer will receive 
a quality avocado. Consequently, the Committee unanimously approved the 
change in dates.
    This rule changes the B date for Choquettes listed on the maturity 
schedule from October 17 to October 10. This rule also changes the C 
date for Choquettes from October 31 to October 24, and the D date from 
November 14 to November 7. The corresponding sizes and weights 
associated with these dates remain unchanged. The dates on the maturity 
schedule are the basis for calculating the actual shipping dates (A, B, 
C, D dates) for each individual season. The actual shipping dates for 
an individual year are established as the Monday nearest to the date 
specified in the maturity schedule as specified in Sec.  915.332.
    Section 8e of the Act provides that when certain domestically 
produced commodities, including avocados, are regulated under a Federal 
marketing order, imports of that commodity must meet the same or 
comparable grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements. Since this 
rule changes the maturity requirements under the domestic handling 
regulations for avocados, a corresponding change to the import 
regulations must also be considered.
    Maturity requirements for avocados imported into the United States 
are currently in effect under Sec.  944.31. The same revisions of 
maturity dates will be made to Sec.  944.31 as are being made to Sec.  
915.332. The Hass, Fuerte, Zutano, and Edranol varieties of avocados 
currently are exempt from the maturity schedule, and continue to be 
exempt under this rule. However, these varieties are not exempt from 
the import grade regulation, which is not being changed by this action. 
As it is the only marketing order covering avocados, import 
requirements are based on the marketing order for avocados grown in 
South Florida.
    The revised shipping dates for Choquette variety avocados better 
reflect the current maturity rate for Choquettes and will help 
facilitate moving mature fruit to the fresh market. This change 
benefits importers as well as domestic growers and handlers.

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 
businesses 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. Import regulations issued under 
the Act are based on those established under Federal marketing orders.
    There are approximately 30 handlers of Florida avocados subject to 
regulation under the order and approximately 300 producers of avocados 
in the production area. There are approximately 70 importers of West 
Indian and Guatemalan type avocado varieties like those grown in 
Florida. Small agricultural service firms, which include avocado 
handlers and importers, are defined by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those 
having annual receipts less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to Committee data and information from the National 
Agricultural Statistical Service, the average price for Florida 
avocados during the 2011-12 season was approximately $20.79 per 55-
pound bushel container and total shipments were slightly higher than 
1.2 million 55-pound bushels. Using the average price and shipment 
information, the majority of avocado handlers could be considered small 
businesses under SBA's definition. In addition, based on avocado 
production, producer prices, and the total number of Florida avocado 
producers, the average annual producer revenue is less than $750,000. 
Information from the Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, indicates that 
the dollar value of imported West Indian and Guatemalan type avocados 
was $15.5 million in 2013. Using these values, most importers would 
have annual receipts of less than $7,000,000 for avocados. 
Consequently, the majority of avocado handlers, producers, and 
importers may be classified as small entities.
    The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Costa Rica, are the major 
production areas of avocado varieties other than Hass exporting 
avocados to the United States. In 2013, shipments of these type 
avocados imported into the United States totaled around 14,500 metric 
tons. Of that amount, 14,400 metric tons were imported from the 
Dominican Republic, 63 metric tons were imported from Peru, and 21 
metric tons arrived from Costa Rica. Mexico, Chile, and Peru are the 
major Hass type avocado producing countries exporting avocados to the 
United States. In 2013, shipments of Hass type avocados imported into 
the United States totaled around 548,000 metric tons. Mexico accounted 
for 500,000 metric tons, with 23,400 metric tons from Chile, and 21,500 
metric tons from Peru.
    This rule changes the maturity requirements prescribed under the 
order's rules and regulations. This rule changes the maturity shipping 
schedule to allow certain sizes and weights of the Choquette avocado 
variety to be shipped to the fresh market earlier and makes a 
corresponding change to the avocado import regulation. With this 
change, the maturity schedule will better reflect the current maturity 
rate for the Choquette

[[Page 55353]]

variety, facilitating the shipment of this variety as it matures. 
Authority for this change is provided in Sec. Sec.  915.51 and 915.52. 
This rule amends the provisions in Sec. Sec.  915.332 and 944.31. This 
rule was unanimously recommended by the Committee at its April 9, 2014, 
meeting. The change in the import regulation is required under section 
8e of the Act.
    This action is not expected to increase the costs associated with 
the order's requirements or the avocado import regulation. Rather, it 
is anticipated that this action will have a beneficial impact. Based on 
several seasons of maturity testing, the Committee recommended moving 
the B, C, and D dates on the maturity schedule forward one week, 
respectively, for the Choquette variety allowing the associated sizes 
and weights to be shipped to the fresh market earlier. The revised 
dates better reflect the current maturity rate for Choquettes, and will 
facilitate the shipment of this variety as it matures, while continuing 
to ensure that only mature fruit is shipped to the fresh market. The 
benefits of this rule are expected to be equally available to all fresh 
avocado growers, handlers, and importers, regardless of their size.
    Regarding alternatives to this action, the Committee considered 
making no change to the requirements or waiting for additional testing. 
However, they determined that there was sufficient data to warrant 
making these changes. Therefore, this alternative was rejected.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35), the order's information collection requirements have been 
previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
assigned OMB No. 0581-0189, (Generic Fruit Crops). No changes in those 
requirements as a result of this action are necessary. Should any 
changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval.
    This rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large avocado handlers. As with all 
Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically 
reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry 
and public sector agencies.
    AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote 
the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide 
increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information 
and services, and for other purposes.
    In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules 
that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule.
    Further, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout 
the Florida avocado industry and all interested persons were invited to 
attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations. Like all 
Committee meetings, the April 9, 2014, meeting was a public meeting 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 Board. The 
Committee's maturity subcommittee met on April 4, 2014, and discussed 
this issue in detail. That meeting was also a public meeting 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 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/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny at the 
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section.
    This rule invites comments on a change to the maturity requirements 
currently prescribed under the Florida avocado marketing order and 
avocado import requirements. Any comments received will be considered 
prior to finalization of this rule.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the Committee's recommendation, and other information, it is found that 
this interim rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate 
the declared policy of the Act.
    In accordance with section 8e of the Act, the United States Trade 
Representative has concurred with the issuance of this interim rule.
    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) These changes relax current requirements for the Choquette 
variety, allowing some fruit to ship earlier; (2) the Committee 
unanimously recommended these changes at a public meeting and 
interested parties had an opportunity to provide input; and (3) this 
rule provides a 60-day comment period and any comments received will be 
considered prior to finalization of this rule.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 915

    Avocados, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

7 CFR Part 944

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

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR parts 915 and 944 
are amended as follows:

PART 915--AVOCADOS GROWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 915 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  915.332, Table I, the entry for ``Choquette'' is revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  915.332  Florida avocado maturity regulation.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *

                                                                         Table I
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Min.                          Min.                          Min.
                       Variety                         A date   Min. wt.    diam.    B date   Min. wt.    diam.    C date   Min. wt.    diam.    D date
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Choquette...........................................     9-26        28   4\4/16\     10-10        24   4\1/16\     10-24        20   3\14/16\     11-7
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 55354]]

* * * * *

PART 944--FRUITS; IMPORT REGULATIONS

0
3. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 944 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
4. In Sec.  944.31, Table I, the entry for ``Choquette'' is revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  944.31  Avocado import maturity regulation.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *

                                                                         Table I
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Min.      Min.                Min.      Min.                Min.      Min.
                       Variety                         A date      wt.      diam.    B date      wt.      diam.    C date      wt.      diam.    D date
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Choquette...........................................     9-26        28   4\4/16\     10-10        24   4\1/16\     10-24        20   3\14/16\     11-7
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *

    Dated: September 11, 2014.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-22052 Filed 9-15-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P