Onions Grown in South Texas; Increased Assessment Rate, 56399-56401 [2015-23436]

Download as PDF 56399 Proposed Rules Federal Register Vol. 80, No. 181 Friday, September 18, 2015 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 959 [Doc. No. AMS–FV–15–0036; FV15–959–1 PR] Onions Grown in South Texas; Increased Assessment Rate Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the South Texas Onion Committee (Committee) to increase the assessment rate established for the 2015–16 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.03 to $0.05 per 50-pound equivalent of onions handled under the marketing order (order). The Committee locally administers the order and is comprised of producers and handlers of onions operating within the area of production. Assessments upon onion handlers are used by the Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal period begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Comments must be received by October 19, 2015. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this proposed 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. Comments should reference the document number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http:// tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this proposed 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) 291–8614, 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 proposed rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 959, as amended (7 CFR part 959), regulating the handling of onions grown in South Texas, 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 proposed rule in conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175. This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, South Texas onion handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate as proposed herein would be applicable to all assessable onions beginning on August 1, 2015, and continue until amended, suspended, or terminated. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. Such handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA’s ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling. This proposed rule would increase the assessment rate established for the Committee for the 2015–16 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.03 to $0.05 per 50-pound equivalent of onions. The South Texas onion marketing order provides authority for the Committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the program. The members of the Committee are producers and handlers of South Texas onions. They are familiar with the Committee’s needs and with the costs for goods and services in their local area and are thus in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in a public meeting. Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input. For the 2012–13 and subsequent fiscal periods, the Committee recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other information available to USDA. The Committee met on June 25, 2015, and unanimously recommended 2015– 16 expenditures of $149,807 and an assessment rate of $0.05 per 50-pound equivalent of onions. Budgeted expenditures for 2014–15 were the same. The assessment rate of $0.05 is $0.02 higher than the rate currently in effect. With the 2015–16 crop estimated to be four million 50-pound equivalents, one million less than last year’s estimate, the current assessment rate would be insufficient to cover the Committee’s anticipated expenditures. E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 56400 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 181 / Friday, September 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules Further, due to a crop failure during the 2014–15 season, the Committee has depleted its reserve funds. With the Committee’s recommended $0.02 increase, assessment income should be approximately $200,000. This would provide sufficient funds to cover anticipated 2015–16 expenses and add funds to the Committee’s authorized reserve. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2015–16 year include $50,000 for compliance, $37,050 for administrative, and $32,942 for management. Budgeted expenses for these items were the same in 2014–15. The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by considering anticipated expenses, expected shipments of South Texas onions, and the level of funds in reserve. As mentioned earlier, onion shipments for the year are estimated at four million 50-pound equivalents which should provide $200,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler assessments at the proposed rate, along with interest income, would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Funds in the reserve (currently $23,906) would be kept within the maximum permitted by the order (approximately two fiscal periods’ expenses as authorized in § 959.43). The proposed assessment rate would continue in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other available information. Although this assessment rate would be in effect for an indefinite period, the Committee would continue to meet prior to or during each fiscal period to recommend a budget of expenses and consider recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate Committee recommendations and other available information to determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking would be undertaken as necessary. The Committee’s 2015–16 budget and those for subsequent fiscal periods would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by USDA. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601–612), the Agricultural VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this proposed rule on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 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. There are approximately 60 producers of onions in the production area and approximately 20 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $7,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201). According to Committee data and information from the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), the average price paid for South Texas onions during the 2013–2014 season was around $12.00 per 50-pound equivalents and total shipments were approximately 4.4 million 50-pound equivalents. Based on this information and data on acreage and yield, the majority of South Texas onion producers would have annual receipts of less than $750,000. In addition, based on available information, more than 50 percent of South Texas onion handlers could be considered small business under SBA’s definition. Thus, the majority of South Texas onion producers and handlers may be classified as small entities. This proposal would increase the assessment rate established for the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2015–16 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.03 to $0.05 per 50pound equivalent of Texas onions. The Committee unanimously recommended 2015–16 expenditures of $149,807 and an assessment rate of $0.05 per 50pound equivalent. The proposed assessment rate of $0.05 is $0.02 higher than the 2012–13 rate. The quantity of assessable onions for the 2015–16 fiscal period is estimated at four million 50pound equivalents. Thus, the $0.05 rate should provide $200,000 in assessment income and be adequate to meet this year’s expenses. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2015–16 fiscal period include $50,000 for compliance, $37,050 for PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 administrative, and $32,942 for management. Budgeted expenses for these items were the same in 2014–15. With the 2015–16 crop estimated to be four million 50-pound equivalents, one million less than last year’s estimate, the current assessment rate would be insufficient to cover the Committee’s anticipated expenditures. Further, due to a crop failure during the 2014–15 season, the Committee has depleted its reserve funds. The Committee recommended the $0.02 increase to provide sufficient funds to cover anticipated 2015–16 expenses and add funds to the Committee’s authorized reserve. Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee considered information from various sources, such as the Committee’s Budget and Personnel Committee. Alternative expenditure levels were discussed by this group, based upon the relative value of various activities to the South Texas onion industry. The Committee ultimately determined that 2015–16 expenditures of $149,807 were appropriate, and the recommended assessment rate, along with interest income, would generate sufficient revenue to meet its expenses. A review of historical information and preliminary information pertaining to the upcoming season indicates that the grower price for the 2015–16 season should average around $9.55 per 50pound equivalent of onions. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2015–16 fiscal period as a percentage of total grower revenue would be approximately .52 percent for the season. This action would increase the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. While assessments impose some additional costs on handlers, the costs are minimal and uniform on all handlers. Additionally, these costs would be offset by the benefits derived by the operation of the marketing order. In addition, the Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the South Texas onion industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 25, 2015, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on this proposed rule, including the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the order’s information E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 181 / Friday, September 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS collection requirements have been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB No. 0581–0178 (Vegetable and Specialty Crops). No changes in those requirements are necessary as a result of this proposed action. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval. This proposed rule would impose no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large South Texas onion handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this action. 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. A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposed rule. Thirty days is deemed appropriate because: (1) The 2015–16 fiscal period begins on August 1, 2015, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each fiscal period apply to all assessable onions handled during such fiscal period; (2) the Committee needs to have sufficient funds to pay its expenses which are incurred on a continuous basis; and (3) handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended by the Committee at a public meeting and is similar to other assessment rate actions issued in past years. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 959 Marketing agreements, Onions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 959 is proposed to be amended as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Sep 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 PART 959—ONIONS GROWN IN SOUTH TEXAS 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 959 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 959.237 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 959.237 Assessment rate. On and after August 1, 2015, an assessment rate of $0.05 per 50-pound equivalent is established for South Texas onions. Dated: September 10, 2015. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2015–23436 Filed 9–17–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service 9 CFR Part 327 [Docket No. FSIS–2012–0028] RIN 0583–AD51 Eligibility of Namibia To Export Meat Products to the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing to add Namibia to the list of countries whose meat inspection system is equivalent to the system that the United States has established under the Federal Meat Inspect Act (FMIA) and its implementing regulations. FSIS’s review of Namibia’s laws, regulations, and inspection implementation show this to be the case. At this time, because Namibia advised FSIS that it intends to export only boneless (not ground) raw beef products, such as primal cuts, chuck, blade, and beef trimmings to the United States, FSIS has only assessed Namibia’s inspection system with respect to beef. Thus, should this rule become final, Namibia would need to submit additional information for FSIS to review before FSIS would allow Namibia to export product from other types of livestock to the U.S. All products that Namibia exports to the U.S. will be subject to re-inspection at United States ports of entry by FSIS inspectors. SUMMARY: Comments must be received on or before November 17, 2015. DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56401 FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this notice. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions at that site for submitting comments. • Mail, including CD–ROMs, etc.: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Mailstop 3782, Room 8–163A, Washington, DC 20250–3700. • Hand- or courier-delivered submittals: Deliver to Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW., Room 8–163A, Washington, DC 20250–3700. Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS– 2012–0028. Comments received in response to this docket will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http:// www.regulations.gov. Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, go to the FSIS Docket Room at Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW., Room 8–164, Washington, DC 20250–3700 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development; Telephone: (202) 205–0495. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: Background FSIS is proposing to amend its meat products inspection regulations to add Namibia to the list of countries eligible to export meat products to the United States (9 CFR 327.2(b)). Namibia is not currently listed as eligible to export such products to the United States. Statutory Basis for Proposed Action Under the FMIA and the regulations that implement it, meat and meat products imported into the United States must be produced under standards for safety, wholesomeness, and labeling accuracy that are equivalent to those of the United States (21 U.S.C. 620). The FMIA also requires that the livestock from which such imports are produced be slaughtered and handled in connection with slaughter in a manner that is consistent E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 181 (Friday, September 18, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56399-56401]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-23436]


========================================================================
Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

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

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


Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 181 / Friday, September 18, 2015 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 56399]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 959

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-15-0036; FV15-959-1 PR]


Onions Grown in South Texas; Increased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the 
South Texas Onion Committee (Committee) to increase the assessment rate 
established for the 2015-16 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.03 to 
$0.05 per 50-pound equivalent of onions handled under the marketing 
order (order). The Committee locally administers the order and is 
comprised of producers and handlers of onions operating within the area 
of production. Assessments upon onion handlers are used by the 
Committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The 
fiscal period begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate 
would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated.

DATES: Comments must be received by October 19, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this proposed 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. Comments should reference the document number and 
the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will 
be available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk 
during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this 
proposed 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) 291-8614, 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 proposed rule is issued under Marketing 
Order No. 959, as amended (7 CFR part 959), regulating the handling of 
onions grown in South Texas, 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 proposed rule 
in conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.
    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, South 
Texas onion handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer 
the order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the 
assessment rate as proposed herein would be applicable to all 
assessable onions beginning on August 1, 2015, and continue until 
amended, suspended, or terminated.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the 
Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition 
stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation 
imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and 
request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. Such 
handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. 
After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides 
that the district court of the United States in any district in which 
the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of 
business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    This proposed rule would increase the assessment rate established 
for the Committee for the 2015-16 and subsequent fiscal periods from 
$0.03 to $0.05 per 50-pound equivalent of onions.
    The South Texas onion marketing order provides authority for the 
Committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget of 
expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the 
program. The members of the Committee are producers and handlers of 
South Texas onions. They are familiar with the Committee's needs and 
with the costs for goods and services in their local area and are thus 
in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. 
The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in a public meeting. 
Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate 
and provide input.
    For the 2012-13 and subsequent fiscal periods, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period unless modified, 
suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information 
submitted by the Committee or other information available to USDA.
    The Committee met on June 25, 2015, and unanimously recommended 
2015-16 expenditures of $149,807 and an assessment rate of $0.05 per 
50-pound equivalent of onions. Budgeted expenditures for 2014-15 were 
the same. The assessment rate of $0.05 is $0.02 higher than the rate 
currently in effect. With the 2015-16 crop estimated to be four million 
50-pound equivalents, one million less than last year's estimate, the 
current assessment rate would be insufficient to cover the Committee's 
anticipated expenditures.

[[Page 56400]]

Further, due to a crop failure during the 2014-15 season, the Committee 
has depleted its reserve funds. With the Committee's recommended $0.02 
increase, assessment income should be approximately $200,000. This 
would provide sufficient funds to cover anticipated 2015-16 expenses 
and add funds to the Committee's authorized reserve.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2015-16 
year include $50,000 for compliance, $37,050 for administrative, and 
$32,942 for management. Budgeted expenses for these items were the same 
in 2014-15.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
considering anticipated expenses, expected shipments of South Texas 
onions, and the level of funds in reserve. As mentioned earlier, onion 
shipments for the year are estimated at four million 50-pound 
equivalents which should provide $200,000 in assessment income. Income 
derived from handler assessments at the proposed rate, along with 
interest income, would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Funds in 
the reserve (currently $23,906) would be kept within the maximum 
permitted by the order (approximately two fiscal periods' expenses as 
authorized in Sec.  959.43).
    The proposed assessment rate would continue in effect indefinitely 
unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation 
and information submitted by the Committee or other available 
information.
    Although this assessment rate would be in effect for an indefinite 
period, the Committee would continue to meet prior to or during each 
fiscal period to recommend a budget of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and 
times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. 
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may 
express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate Committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking would 
be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's 2015-16 budget and those 
for subsequent fiscal periods would be reviewed and, as appropriate, 
approved by USDA.

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 proposed rule on small 
entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
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.
    There are approximately 60 producers of onions in the production 
area and approximately 20 handlers subject to regulation under the 
marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small 
Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts less than 
$750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those 
whose annual receipts are less than $7,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to Committee data and information from the National 
Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), the average price paid for 
South Texas onions during the 2013-2014 season was around $12.00 per 
50-pound equivalents and total shipments were approximately 4.4 million 
50-pound equivalents. Based on this information and data on acreage and 
yield, the majority of South Texas onion producers would have annual 
receipts of less than $750,000. In addition, based on available 
information, more than 50 percent of South Texas onion handlers could 
be considered small business under SBA's definition. Thus, the majority 
of South Texas onion producers and handlers may be classified as small 
entities.
    This proposal would increase the assessment rate established for 
the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2015-16 and 
subsequent fiscal periods from $0.03 to $0.05 per 50-pound equivalent 
of Texas onions. The Committee unanimously recommended 2015-16 
expenditures of $149,807 and an assessment rate of $0.05 per 50-pound 
equivalent. The proposed assessment rate of $0.05 is $0.02 higher than 
the 2012-13 rate. The quantity of assessable onions for the 2015-16 
fiscal period is estimated at four million 50-pound equivalents. Thus, 
the $0.05 rate should provide $200,000 in assessment income and be 
adequate to meet this year's expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2015-16 
fiscal period include $50,000 for compliance, $37,050 for 
administrative, and $32,942 for management. Budgeted expenses for these 
items were the same in 2014-15.
    With the 2015-16 crop estimated to be four million 50-pound 
equivalents, one million less than last year's estimate, the current 
assessment rate would be insufficient to cover the Committee's 
anticipated expenditures. Further, due to a crop failure during the 
2014-15 season, the Committee has depleted its reserve funds. The 
Committee recommended the $0.02 increase to provide sufficient funds to 
cover anticipated 2015-16 expenses and add funds to the Committee's 
authorized reserve.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee 
considered information from various sources, such as the Committee's 
Budget and Personnel Committee. Alternative expenditure levels were 
discussed by this group, based upon the relative value of various 
activities to the South Texas onion industry. The Committee ultimately 
determined that 2015-16 expenditures of $149,807 were appropriate, and 
the recommended assessment rate, along with interest income, would 
generate sufficient revenue to meet its expenses.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information 
pertaining to the upcoming season indicates that the grower price for 
the 2015-16 season should average around $9.55 per 50-pound equivalent 
of onions. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2015-16 
fiscal period as a percentage of total grower revenue would be 
approximately .52 percent for the season.
    This action would increase the assessment obligation imposed on 
handlers. While assessments impose some additional costs on handlers, 
the costs are minimal and uniform on all handlers. Additionally, these 
costs would be offset by the benefits derived by the operation of the 
marketing order. In addition, the Committee's meeting was widely 
publicized throughout the South Texas onion industry and all interested 
persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 25, 
2015, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested 
persons are invited to submit comments on this proposed rule, including 
the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small 
businesses.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35), the order's information

[[Page 56401]]

collection requirements have been previously approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB No. 0581-0178 (Vegetable 
and Specialty Crops). No changes in those requirements are necessary as 
a result of this proposed action. Should any changes become necessary, 
they would be submitted to OMB for approval.
    This proposed rule would impose no additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large South Texas onion 
handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and 
forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and 
duplication by industry and public sector agencies.
    AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote 
the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide 
increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information 
and services, and for other purposes.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this action.
    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.
    A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to 
respond to this proposed rule. Thirty days is deemed appropriate 
because: (1) The 2015-16 fiscal period begins on August 1, 2015, and 
the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each 
fiscal period apply to all assessable onions handled during such fiscal 
period; (2) the Committee needs to have sufficient funds to pay its 
expenses which are incurred on a continuous basis; and (3) handlers are 
aware of this action which was unanimously recommended by the Committee 
at a public meeting and is similar to other assessment rate actions 
issued in past years.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 959

    Marketing agreements, Onions, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 959 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 959--ONIONS GROWN IN SOUTH TEXAS

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 959 continues to read as 
follows:

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

0
2. Section 959.237 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  959.237  Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1, 2015, an assessment rate of $0.05 per 50-
pound equivalent is established for South Texas onions.

    Dated: September 10, 2015.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-23436 Filed 9-17-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P