Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rate, 73644-73647 [2015-30013]

Download as PDF jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES 73644 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 227 / Wednesday, November 25, 2015 / Rules and Regulations 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. 0581–0178 Vegetable and Specialty Crops. No changes in those requirements are necessary as a result of this action. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval. This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Florida tomato handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this rule. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/ rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffery Smutny at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. After consideration of all relevant material presented, including the information and recommendation submitted by the Committee and other available information, it is hereby found that this rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it 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 2015–16 fiscal period began on August 1, 2015, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each fiscal period apply to all assessable Florida tomatoes 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 this action decreases the assessment rate for assessable tomatoes beginning with the VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:12 Nov 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 2015–16 fiscal period; (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; and (4) this interim 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 966 Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Tomatoes. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 966 is amended as follows: PART 966—TOMATOES GROWN IN FLORIDA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 966 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 966.234 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 966.234 Assessment rate. On and after August 1, 2015, an assessment rate of $0.03 per 25-pound container is established for Florida tomatoes. Dated: November 20, 2015. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2015–30018 Filed 11–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 989 [Doc. No. AMS–FV–15–0032; FV15–989–2 FR] Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rate Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This rule implements a recommendation from the Raisin Administrative Committee (committee) for an increase of the assessment rate established for the 2015–16 and subsequent crop years from $14.00 to $17.00 per ton of California raisins handled under the marketing order (order). The committee locally administers the order, and is comprised of producers and handlers of raisins operating within the area of production. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Assessments upon raisin handlers are used by the committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The crop year begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Effective November 27, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Stobbe, Marketing Specialist, or Martin Engeler, Regional Director, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487– 5901, Fax: (559) 487–5906; or Email: Maria.Stobbe@ams.usda.gov or Martin.Engeler@ams.usda.gov. Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops 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 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 Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175. This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California raisin handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are derived from assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable raisins 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 E:\FR\FM\25NOR1.SGM 25NOR1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 227 / Wednesday, November 25, 2015 / Rules and Regulations 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 increases the assessment rate established by the committee for the 2015–16 and subsequent crop years from $14.00 to $17.00 per ton of California raisins handled. Sections 989.79 and 989.80, respectively, of the order provide authority for the committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget of expenses, and to collect assessments from handlers to administer the program. The members of the committee are producers and handlers of California raisins. They are familiar with the committee’s needs and with 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 2010–11 and subsequent crop years, the committee recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue in effect from crop year to crop year unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the committee or other information available to USDA. The committee met on June 11, 2015, and recommended an assessment rate increase from $14.00 per ton to $17.00 per ton by a unanimous vote. At this meeting, the committee also recommended a budget for the 2015–16 crop year, with recommended expenses and contingency reserve totaling $5,832,496. The vote on this recommendation was also unanimous. The assessment rate of $17.00 per ton is expected to generate assessment income of $5,832,496, which should be sufficient to fund the 2015–16 expenses. As previously stated, the committee’s budget for the 2015–16 crop year is $5,832,496, and the assessment rate is $17.00 per ton, which is $3.00 per ton higher than the rate currently in effect. The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2015–16 crop year include: Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,402,906; administration costs of $610,000; compliance activities costs of $30,000; VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:12 Nov 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 research and studies costs of $129,000; operation and maintenance costs of the generic marketing programs of $3,520,178; and a contingency of $355,503. Subtracted from these expenses is $215,091, which represents reimbursable costs for the shared management of the State marketing program. In comparison, last year’s approved budgeted expenditures included: Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,337,100; administration costs of $493,500; compliance activities costs of $30,000; research and studies costs of $85,000; operation and maintenance costs of the generic marketing programs of $3,296,800; and a contingency of $100,000. Reimbursable costs for the shared management of the State marketing program of $166,860 were subtracted, resulting in a total approved budget for the 2014–15 crop year of $5,175,540. The committee believes that more funds should be spent in promoting raisins internationally, including China. For that reason, budgeted expenses in those endeavors have been increased: Research and studies costs increased from $85,000 for the 2014–15 crop year to $129,000 for the 2015–16 crop year; and operation and maintenance costs of generic marketing programs increased from $3,296,800 for the 2014–15 crop year to $3,520,178 for the 2015–16 crop year. In addition, the committee included a contingency fund for unexpected expenses and opportunities that may occur during the year. The quantity of assessable raisins for 2015–16 crop year was estimated to be 343,088 tons. At the assessment rate of $17.00 per ton, the anticipated assessment income would be $5,832,496. Sufficient income should be generated at the higher assessment rate for the committee to meet its anticipated expenses. Pursuant to § 989.81(a) of the order, any unexpended assessment funds from the crop year must be credited or refunded to the handlers from whom collected. The assessment rate established in this rule will 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 will be in effect for an indefinite period, the committee will continue to meet prior to or during each crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and times of committee meetings are available PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 73645 from the committee or USDA. Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA will evaluate committee recommendations and other available information to determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will be undertaken as necessary. The committee’s 2015–16 budget and those for subsequent crop years, would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by USDA. Final 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 rule on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final regulatory flexibility analysis. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 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 3,000 producers of California raisins and approximately 20 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. The Small Business Administration defines small agricultural producers as those having annual receipts less than $750,000, and defines small agricultural service firms as those whose annual receipts are less than $7,000,000. (13 CFR 121.201.) Based upon shipment data and other information provided by the committee, it may be concluded that a majority of producers and approximately 18 handlers of California raisins may be classified as small entities. This rule increases the assessment rate established for the committee and collected from handlers for the 2015–16 and subsequent crop years from $14.00 to $17.00 per ton of assessable raisins acquired by handlers. The committee reviewed and identified the expenses that are reasonable and necessary to continue program operations during the 2015–16 crop year. The resulting recommended budget totals $5,832,496 for the 2015–16 crop year. This represents an overall increase from the 2014–15 budget, which totaled $5,175,540. The 2015–16 budget includes additional expenditures to fund increased promotional programs E:\FR\FM\25NOR1.SGM 25NOR1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES 73646 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 227 / Wednesday, November 25, 2015 / Rules and Regulations in export markets, and a contingency fund of $355,503, which provides a safety net to cover unexpected expenses and opportunities that present themselves during the 2015–16 crop year. The quantity of assessable raisins for 2015–16 crop year was estimated to be 343,088 tons. At the assessment rate of $17.00 per ton, the anticipated assessment income would be $5,832,496. Sufficient income should be generated at the higher assessment rate for the committee to meet its anticipated expenses. The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2015–16 crop year include: Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,402,906; administration costs of $610,000; compliance activities costs of $30,000; research costs of $129,000; operation and maintenance costs of generic marketing programs of $3,520,178; and a contingency of $355,503. In comparison, last year’s approved budgeted expenditures included: Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,337,100; administration costs of $493,500; compliance activities costs of $30,000; research costs of $85,000; operation and maintenance costs of generic marketing programs of $3,296,800; and a contingency of $100,000. The total budget approved for the 2014–15 crop year was $5,175,540. The committee believes that more funds should be spent in promoting raisins internationally, including China. For that reason, expenses for research and promotion activities have been increased: Operation and maintenance costs of generic marketing programs increased from $3,296,800 for the 2014– 15 crop year to $3,520,178 for the 2015– 16 crop year, and research costs have increased from $85,000 for the 2014–15 crop year to $129,000 for the 2015–16 crop year. In order to fund these additional expenditures, the committee recommended an increased assessment rate. Pursuant to § 989.81(a) of the order, any unexpended assessment funds from the crop year must be credited or refunded to the handlers from whom collected. Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the committee considered information from various sources, such as the committee’s Audit and Marketing Subcommittees. Alternative spending levels were discussed by the Marketing and Audit Subcommittees, which met on June 8, 2015 and June 11, 2015, to review the committee’s financial operations. The committee ultimately decided that the recommended budget and VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:12 Nov 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 assessment rate were reasonable and necessary to properly administer the order. A review of statistical data on the California raisin industry indicates that assessment revenue has consistently been less than one percent of grower revenue in recent years. With a $17.00 assessment rate, assessment revenue is expected to remain at less than one percent of grower revenue. Regarding the impact of this action on affected entities, this action increases the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. While increased assessments impose additional costs on handlers regulated under the order, the rates are uniform on all handlers, and proportional to the size of their businesses. It is expected that these costs would be offset by the benefits derived from the operation of the order. In addition, the meetings of the Audit and Marketing Subcommittees, and the full committee were widely publicized throughout the California raisin industry, and all interested persons were invited to attend the meetings and encouraged to participate in committee deliberations on all issues. Like all subcommittee and committee meetings, the June 8, 2015 and June 11, 2015, meetings were public meetings, and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue. 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. 0581–0178, ‘‘Vegetable and Specialty Crops.’’ No changes in those requirements are necessary as a result of this action. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval. This rule imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large California raisin 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. As noted in the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this final rule. AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal Register on September 2, 2015 (80 FR 53022). Copies of the proposed rule were mailed or sent via facsimile or email to all raisin handlers. Finally, the proposal was made available through the Internet by USDA and the office of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending October 2, 2015, was provided for interested persons to respond to the proposal. Five comments were received: Four in support of the proposed rule and one opposed. The commenter in opposition questioned the use of funds for more committee travel and expressed concern that past trips have not increased sales. The commenter is also concerned that the increase would be at the expense of producers. This action increases the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. While some of these additional costs may be passed on to producers, the committee, which is comprised of producers and handlers, unanimously voted to increase the assessment rate. It is expected that the increase in costs would be offset by the benefits derived by the industry, as a whole. Accordingly, no change will be made to the rule as proposed. 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/ rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. After consideration of all relevant material presented, including the information and recommendation submitted by the committee and other available information, it is hereby found that this rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it is also found and determined that good cause exists for not postponing the effective date of this rule until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register because handlers are already receiving 2015–16 raisin crop from growers, and the crop year began on August 1, 2015, and the marketing order requires that the assessment rate applies to all assessable raisins received during the 2015–16 and subsequent seasons. Further, handlers are aware of this rule which was recommended at a public meeting. Also, a 30-day comment period was provided for in the proposed rule. E:\FR\FM\25NOR1.SGM 25NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 227 / Wednesday, November 25, 2015 / Rules and Regulations List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 989 In the rule that is the subject of this correction, the Agency revised 7 CFR 1956.101 as intended, but the Agency inadvertently did not make the correct conforming change in 7 CFR 1956.147. To correct this oversight, the Agency is ‘‘reserving’’ 7 CFR 1956.147 in its entirety. This correction has no substantive effect on how debts are settled under this part. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Grapes, Marketing agreements, Raisins, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 989 is amended as follows: PART 989—RAISINS PRODUCED FROM GRAPES GROWN IN CALIFORNIA Need for Correction 2. Section 989.347 is revised to read as follows: As published, the text that remains in 7 CFR 1956.147 after the March 13, 2015, rule may be misleading and cause confusion as a result of the changes made to 7 CFR 1956.101 in the March 13, 2015, rule. § 989.347 Assessment rate. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1956 On and after August 1, 2015, an assessment rate of $17.00 per ton is established for assessable raisins produced from grapes grown in California. Loan programs—agriculture, Loan programs—housing and community development. Accordingly, 7 CFR 1956.147 is corrected by making the following correcting amendment: 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 989 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. ■ Dated: November 20, 2015. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. PART 1956—DEBT SETTLEMENT 1. The authority citation for part 1956 continues to read as follows: ■ [FR Doc. 2015–30013 Filed 11–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; and 7 U.S.C. 1989. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE § 1956.147 Rural Housing Service ■ [Removed and Reserved] 2. Remove and reserve § 1956.147. Dated: November 12, 2015. Lisa Mensah, Under Secretary, Rural Development. Dated: November 17, 2015. Michael Scuse, Under Secretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Rural Business-Cooperative Service Rural Utilities Service Farm Service Agency 7 CFR Part 1956 [FR Doc. 2015–29781 Filed 11–24–15; 8:45 am] RIN 0570–AA88 BILLING CODE 3410–XY–P Rural Development Loan Servicing; Correction DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Utilities Service, and Farm Service Agency USDA. ACTION: Direct final rule; correction. AGENCY: jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES Effective November 25, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melvin Padgett, Rural Development, Business Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 3226, Washington, DC 20250–3225; telephone (202) 720–1495; email melvin.padgett@wdc.usda./gov. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:12 Nov 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 Order No. 818 18 CFR Part 40 This document contains corrections to the published rule in the Federal Register of March 13, 2015, entitled ‘‘Rural Development Loan Servicing.’’ DATES: The Commission approves Reliability Standards and definitions of terms submitted in three related petitions by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commission-approved Electric Reliability Organization. The Commission approves Reliability Standards EOP–011–1 (Emergency Operations) and PRC–010–1 (Undervoltage Load Shedding). The proposed Reliability Standards consolidate, streamline and clarify the existing requirements of certain currently-effective Emergency Preparedness and Operations (EOP) and Protection and Control (PRC) standards. The Commission also approves NERC’s revised definition of the term Remedial Action Scheme as set forth in the NERC Glossary of Terms Used in Reliability Standards, and modifications of specified Reliability Standards to incorporate the revised definition. Further, the Commission approves the implementation plans, and the retirement of certain currently-effective Reliability Standards. DATES: This rule will become effective January 25, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Juan Villar (Technical Information), Office of Electric Reliability, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (772) 678–6496, Juan.Villar@ferc.gov. Nick Henery (Technical Information), Office of Electric Reliability, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502–8636, Nick.Henery@ferc.gov. Mark Bennett (Legal Information), Office of the General Counsel, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502–8524, Mark.Bennett@ferc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission SUMMARY: 73647 Final Rule [Docket Nos. RM15–7–000, RM15–12–000, and RM15–13–000 Order No. 818] Revisions to Emergency Operations Reliability Standards; Revisions to Undervoltage Load Shedding Reliability Standards; Revisions to the Definition of ‘‘Remedial Action Scheme’’ and Related Reliability Standards Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (Issued November 19, 2015) 1. Pursuant to section 215 of the Federal Power Act (FPA),1 the Commission approves Reliability Standards and definitions of terms submitted in three related petitions by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commissionapproved Electric Reliability Organization (ERO). In particular, the Commission approves Reliability Standards EOP–011–1 (Emergency 1 16 U.S.C. 824o. E:\FR\FM\25NOR1.SGM 25NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 227 (Wednesday, November 25, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 73644-73647]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-30013]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 989

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-15-0032; FV15-989-2 FR]


Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Increased 
Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule implements a recommendation from the Raisin 
Administrative Committee (committee) for an increase of the assessment 
rate established for the 2015-16 and subsequent crop years from $14.00 
to $17.00 per ton of California raisins handled under the marketing 
order (order). The committee locally administers the order, and is 
comprised of producers and handlers of raisins operating within the 
area of production. Assessments upon raisin handlers are used by the 
committee to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The 
crop year begins August 1 and ends July 31. The assessment rate will 
remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated.

DATES: Effective November 27, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Stobbe, Marketing Specialist, or 
Martin Engeler, Regional Director, California Marketing Field Office, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, 
USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906; or Email: 
Maria.Stobbe@ams.usda.gov or Martin.Engeler@ams.usda.gov.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement 
Division, Specialty Crops 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 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 Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, California 
raisin handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the 
order are derived from assessments. It is intended that the assessment 
rate as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable raisins 
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

[[Page 73645]]

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 increases the assessment rate established by the 
committee for the 2015-16 and subsequent crop years from $14.00 to 
$17.00 per ton of California raisins handled.
    Sections 989.79 and 989.80, respectively, of the order provide 
authority for the committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an 
annual budget of expenses, and to collect assessments from handlers to 
administer the program. The members of the committee are producers and 
handlers of California raisins. They are familiar with the committee's 
needs and with 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 2010-11 and subsequent crop years, the committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from crop year to crop year unless modified, suspended, or 
terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the 
committee or other information available to USDA.
    The committee met on June 11, 2015, and recommended an assessment 
rate increase from $14.00 per ton to $17.00 per ton by a unanimous 
vote. At this meeting, the committee also recommended a budget for the 
2015-16 crop year, with recommended expenses and contingency reserve 
totaling $5,832,496. The vote on this recommendation was also 
unanimous. The assessment rate of $17.00 per ton is expected to 
generate assessment income of $5,832,496, which should be sufficient to 
fund the 2015-16 expenses.
    As previously stated, the committee's budget for the 2015-16 crop 
year is $5,832,496, and the assessment rate is $17.00 per ton, which is 
$3.00 per ton higher than the rate currently in effect.
    The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2015-16 
crop year include: Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,402,906; 
administration costs of $610,000; compliance activities costs of 
$30,000; research and studies costs of $129,000; operation and 
maintenance costs of the generic marketing programs of $3,520,178; and 
a contingency of $355,503. Subtracted from these expenses is $215,091, 
which represents reimbursable costs for the shared management of the 
State marketing program.
    In comparison, last year's approved budgeted expenditures included: 
Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,337,100; administration costs 
of $493,500; compliance activities costs of $30,000; research and 
studies costs of $85,000; operation and maintenance costs of the 
generic marketing programs of $3,296,800; and a contingency of 
$100,000. Reimbursable costs for the shared management of the State 
marketing program of $166,860 were subtracted, resulting in a total 
approved budget for the 2014-15 crop year of $5,175,540.
    The committee believes that more funds should be spent in promoting 
raisins internationally, including China. For that reason, budgeted 
expenses in those endeavors have been increased: Research and studies 
costs increased from $85,000 for the 2014-15 crop year to $129,000 for 
the 2015-16 crop year; and operation and maintenance costs of generic 
marketing programs increased from $3,296,800 for the 2014-15 crop year 
to $3,520,178 for the 2015-16 crop year. In addition, the committee 
included a contingency fund for unexpected expenses and opportunities 
that may occur during the year.
    The quantity of assessable raisins for 2015-16 crop year was 
estimated to be 343,088 tons. At the assessment rate of $17.00 per ton, 
the anticipated assessment income would be $5,832,496. Sufficient 
income should be generated at the higher assessment rate for the 
committee to meet its anticipated expenses.
    Pursuant to Sec.  989.81(a) of the order, any unexpended assessment 
funds from the crop year must be credited or refunded to the handlers 
from whom collected.
    The assessment rate established in this rule will 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 will be in effect for an indefinite 
period, the committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and 
times of committee meetings are available from the committee or USDA. 
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may 
express their views at these meetings. USDA will evaluate committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will 
be undertaken as necessary. The committee's 2015-16 budget and those 
for subsequent crop years, would be reviewed and, as appropriate, 
approved by USDA.

Final 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 rule on small entities. 
Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final regulatory flexibility 
analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
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 3,000 producers of California raisins and 
approximately 20 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing 
order. The Small Business Administration defines small agricultural 
producers as those having annual receipts less than $750,000, and 
defines small agricultural service firms as those whose annual receipts 
are less than $7,000,000. (13 CFR 121.201.)
    Based upon shipment data and other information provided by the 
committee, it may be concluded that a majority of producers and 
approximately 18 handlers of California raisins may be classified as 
small entities.
    This rule increases the assessment rate established for the 
committee and collected from handlers for the 2015-16 and subsequent 
crop years from $14.00 to $17.00 per ton of assessable raisins acquired 
by handlers.
    The committee reviewed and identified the expenses that are 
reasonable and necessary to continue program operations during the 
2015-16 crop year. The resulting recommended budget totals $5,832,496 
for the 2015-16 crop year. This represents an overall increase from the 
2014-15 budget, which totaled $5,175,540. The 2015-16 budget includes 
additional expenditures to fund increased promotional programs

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in export markets, and a contingency fund of $355,503, which provides a 
safety net to cover unexpected expenses and opportunities that present 
themselves during the 2015-16 crop year.
    The quantity of assessable raisins for 2015-16 crop year was 
estimated to be 343,088 tons. At the assessment rate of $17.00 per ton, 
the anticipated assessment income would be $5,832,496. Sufficient 
income should be generated at the higher assessment rate for the 
committee to meet its anticipated expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the committee for the 2015-16 
crop year include: Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,402,906; 
administration costs of $610,000; compliance activities costs of 
$30,000; research costs of $129,000; operation and maintenance costs of 
generic marketing programs of $3,520,178; and a contingency of 
$355,503.
    In comparison, last year's approved budgeted expenditures included: 
Salaries and employee-related costs of $1,337,100; administration costs 
of $493,500; compliance activities costs of $30,000; research costs of 
$85,000; operation and maintenance costs of generic marketing programs 
of $3,296,800; and a contingency of $100,000. The total budget approved 
for the 2014-15 crop year was $5,175,540.
    The committee believes that more funds should be spent in promoting 
raisins internationally, including China. For that reason, expenses for 
research and promotion activities have been increased: Operation and 
maintenance costs of generic marketing programs increased from 
$3,296,800 for the 2014-15 crop year to $3,520,178 for the 2015-16 crop 
year, and research costs have increased from $85,000 for the 2014-15 
crop year to $129,000 for the 2015-16 crop year. In order to fund these 
additional expenditures, the committee recommended an increased 
assessment rate.
    Pursuant to Sec.  989.81(a) of the order, any unexpended assessment 
funds from the crop year must be credited or refunded to the handlers 
from whom collected.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the committee 
considered information from various sources, such as the committee's 
Audit and Marketing Subcommittees. Alternative spending levels were 
discussed by the Marketing and Audit Subcommittees, which met on June 
8, 2015 and June 11, 2015, to review the committee's financial 
operations.
    The committee ultimately decided that the recommended budget and 
assessment rate were reasonable and necessary to properly administer 
the order.
    A review of statistical data on the California raisin industry 
indicates that assessment revenue has consistently been less than one 
percent of grower revenue in recent years. With a $17.00 assessment 
rate, assessment revenue is expected to remain at less than one percent 
of grower revenue.
    Regarding the impact of this action on affected entities, this 
action increases the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. While 
increased assessments impose additional costs on handlers regulated 
under the order, the rates are uniform on all handlers, and 
proportional to the size of their businesses. It is expected that these 
costs would be offset by the benefits derived from the operation of the 
order.
    In addition, the meetings of the Audit and Marketing Subcommittees, 
and the full committee were widely publicized throughout the California 
raisin industry, and all interested persons were invited to attend the 
meetings and encouraged to participate in committee deliberations on 
all issues. Like all subcommittee and committee meetings, the June 8, 
2015 and June 11, 2015, meetings were public meetings, and all 
entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this 
issue.
    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. 0581-0178, ``Vegetable and Specialty Crops.'' No 
changes in those requirements are necessary as a result of this action. 
Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for 
approval.
    This rule imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large California raisin 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. As noted in the 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis, USDA has not identified any 
relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this 
final rule.
    AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote 
the use of the internet and other information technologies to provide 
increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information 
and services, and for other purposes.
    A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal 
Register on September 2, 2015 (80 FR 53022). Copies of the proposed 
rule were mailed or sent via facsimile or email to all raisin handlers. 
Finally, the proposal was made available through the Internet by USDA 
and the office of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending 
October 2, 2015, was provided for interested persons to respond to the 
proposal. Five comments were received: Four in support of the proposed 
rule and one opposed. The commenter in opposition questioned the use of 
funds for more committee travel and expressed concern that past trips 
have not increased sales. The commenter is also concerned that the 
increase would be at the expense of producers. This action increases 
the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. While some of these 
additional costs may be passed on to producers, the committee, which is 
comprised of producers and handlers, unanimously voted to increase the 
assessment rate. It is expected that the increase in costs would be 
offset by the benefits derived by the industry, as a whole. 
Accordingly, no change will be made to the rule as proposed.
    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/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny at the 
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the information and recommendation submitted by the committee and other 
available information, it is hereby found that this rule, as 
hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of 
the Act.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it is also found and determined that good 
cause exists for not postponing the effective date of this rule until 
30 days after publication in the Federal Register because handlers are 
already receiving 2015-16 raisin crop from growers, and the crop year 
began on August 1, 2015, and the marketing order requires that the 
assessment rate applies to all assessable raisins received during the 
2015-16 and subsequent seasons. Further, handlers are aware of this 
rule which was recommended at a public meeting. Also, a 30-day comment 
period was provided for in the proposed rule.

[[Page 73647]]

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 as follows:

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 989.347 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  989.347  Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1, 2015, an assessment rate of $17.00 per ton 
is established for assessable raisins produced from grapes grown in 
California.

    Dated: November 20, 2015.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-30013 Filed 11-24-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P