Onions Grown in South Texas; Proposed Amendment to Marketing Order 959, 8804-8807 [2018-04076]

Download as PDF amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS 8804 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 41 / Thursday, March 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules industry. The Committee ultimately determined that 2018 expenditures of $119,000 were appropriate, and the recommended assessment rate and the use of $25,000 from the carry-over financial reserves would provide sufficient revenue to meet its expenses. A review of historical crop and price information, as well as preliminary information pertaining to the upcoming fiscal period, indicates that the shipping point price for the 2017 season averaged about $21.62 per 18-pound lug of California desert grapes handled. If the 2018 price is similar to the 2017 price, estimated assessment revenue as a percentage of total estimated handler revenue would be 0.09 percent for the 2018 season ($0.020 divided by $21.62 per 18-pound lug). This action would decrease the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. Assessments are applied uniformly on all handlers, and some of the costs may be passed on to producers. However, decreasing the assessment rate would reduce the burden on handlers, and may reduce the burden on producers. In addition, the Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the production area. The grape industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the November 30, 2017, 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 information collection 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 collection requirements have been previously approved by OMB and assigned OMB No. 0581–0189. 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 proposed rule would impose no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large southeastern California grape 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Feb 28, 2018 Jkt 244001 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: https://www.ams.usda.gov/ rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower 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. All written comments timely received will be considered before a final determination is made on this rule. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 925 Grapes, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 925 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 925—GRAPES GROWN IN A DESIGNATED AREA OF SOUTHEASTERN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for part 925 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Sections 925.1 through 925.69 are designated as subpart A under a heading to read as follows: ■ Subpart A—Order Regulating Handling [Subpart Redesignated as Subpart B and Amended] 3. Redesignate ‘‘Subpart—Rules and Regulations’’ as subpart B and revise the heading to read as follows: ■ Subpart B—Administrative Requirements [Subpart Redesignated as Subpart C] 4. Redesignate ‘‘Subpart—Assessment Rates’’ as ‘‘Subpart C Assessment Rates’’. ■ 5. Section 925.215 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 925.215 Assessment rate. On and after January 1, 2018, an assessment rate of $0.020 per 18-pound lug is established for grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California. PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Dated: February 22, 2018. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2018–04010 Filed 2–28–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 959 [AMS–SC–17–0067; SC17–959–4] Onions Grown in South Texas; Proposed Amendment to Marketing Order 959 Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: This proposed rule invites comments on a proposed amendment to Marketing Order No. 959, which regulates the handling of onions grown in south Texas. The proposed amendment would reduce the size of the South Texas Onion Committee (Committee) and make conforming and clarifying amendments as needed. The amendment would adjust the number of handlers and producers on the Committee to reflect a decrease in the number of onion producers and handlers in recent years. DATES: Comments must be received by April 30, 2018. 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, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237; Fax: (202) 720–8938; or internet: https://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the document number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: https:// www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this 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: Geronimo Quinones, Marketing Specialist, or Julie Santoboni, Rulemaking Branch Chief, Marketing SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01MRP1.SGM 01MRP1 amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 41 / Thursday, March 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules 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: Geronimo.Quinones@ams.usda.gov or Julie.Santoboni@ams.usda.gov. Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Richard Lower, 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: Richard.Lower@ams.usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, proposes an amendment to regulations issued to carry out a marketing order as defined in 7 CFR 900.2(j). This proposal is issued under Marketing Order No. 959, as amended (7 CFR part 959), regulating the handling of onions grown in south Texas. Part 959 (referred to as 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 Committee locally administers the Marketing Order and is comprised of onion producers and handlers operating within the area of production. Section 608c(17) of the Act and the applicable rules of practice and procedure governing the formulation of marketing agreements and orders (7 CFR part 900) authorizes amendment of the Order through this informal rulemaking action. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will consider comments received in response to this proposed rule, and based on all the information available, will determine if the Order amendment is warranted. If AMS determines amendment of the Order is warranted, a subsequent proposed rule and notice of referendum would be issued and producers would be allowed to vote for or against the proposed Order amendment. AMS would then issue a final rule effectuating any amendments approved by producers in the referendum. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this proposed rule in conformance with Executive Orders 13563 and 13175. This action falls within a category of regulatory actions that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) exempted from Executive Order 12866 review. Additionally, because this proposed rule does not meet the definition of a significant regulatory action it does not trigger the requirements contained in Executive VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Feb 28, 2018 Jkt 244001 Order 13771. See OMB’s Memorandum titled ‘‘Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order of January 30, 2017, titled ‘Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs’ ’’ (February 2, 2017). This proposal has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. This rule shall not be deemed to preclude, preempt, or supersede any State program covering onions grown in south Texas. 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 no later than 20 days after the date of entry of the ruling. Section 1504 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) (Pub. L. 110–246) amended section 8c(17) of the Act, which in turn required the addition of supplemental rules of practice to 7 CFR part 900 (73 FR 49307; August 21, 2008). The amendment of section 8c(17) of the Act and additional supplemental rules of practice authorize the use of informal rulemaking (5 U.S.C. 553) to amend Federal fruit, vegetable, and nut marketing agreements and orders. USDA may use informal rulemaking to amend marketing orders based on the nature and complexity of the proposed amendments, the potential regulatory and economic impacts on affected entities, and any other relevant matters. AMS has considered these factors and has determined that the amendment proposed is not unduly complex and the nature of the proposed amendment is appropriate for utilizing the informal rulemaking process to amend the Order. A discussion of the potential regulatory and economic impacts on affected entities is discussed later in the ‘‘Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis’’ section of this proposed rule. The proposed amendment was unanimously recommended by the Committee following deliberations at a public meeting held on June 7, 2017. PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 8805 The proposal would amend the Order by reducing the size of the Committee from 34 to 26 members. The change would remove one voting producer and handler member, and one alternate producer and handler member from each of the two districts. Proposal—Reduce Committee Size Section 959.22 provides that the Committee consists of seventeen members, ten of whom shall be producers and seven of whom shall be handlers. For each member of the Committee there shall be an alternate. This proposal would amend § 959.22 by reducing the size of the Committee from 34 to 26 members. The Committee size is based on membership per district. The Order initially established five districts, which were reestablished as two districts in § 959.110. Section 959.111 reapportioned the 34 Committee members between the two districts so that District 1 was comprised of 20 members and alternates and District 1 was comprised of 14 members and alternates. However, due to contractions in the size of the industry, the Committee has had difficulties finding nominees to fill positions on the Committee. The change would remove one voting producer and handler member, and one alternate producer and handler member from each of the two districts (eight members total). Conforming and clarifying changes would also be made to §§ 959.24, 959.26, 959.32, and §§ 959.110 and 959.111 would be removed. This proposed action is necessary to adjust the number of handlers and producers on the Committee to reflect industry consolidation. There has been a decrease in the number of onion producers and handlers over the past 15 years. The current structure of the Committee requires 34 members, with half the members elected on biennial terms. Many seats remain vacant, as finding sufficient members to nominate has been challenging. Having a smaller size committee would enable it to fulfill membership and quorum requirements, thereby ensuring a more efficient and orderly flow of business. For the reasons stated above, it is proposed that § 959.22 be modified to reduce the size of the Committee from 34 to 26 members. Conforming and clarifying changes would also be made to §§ 959.24, 959.26, 959.32, and §§ 959.110 and 959.111 would be removed. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) E:\FR\FM\01MRP1.SGM 01MRP1 amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS 8806 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 41 / Thursday, March 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules (5 U.S.C. 601–612), 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 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 30 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration as those having annual receipts less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $7,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201). Based on information from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the weighted grower price for South Texas onions during the 2015–16 season was approximately $12.30 per 50-pound equivalent. Furthermore, according to Committee data, total shipments were approximately three million 50-pound equivalents for the 2015–16 season with a total 2015–16 crop value estimated at $37 million. Dividing the crop value by the estimated number of producers (60) yields an estimated average receipt per producer of $617,000. This is below the $750,000 SBA definition of small producers. The average handler price for South Texas onions during the 2015–16 season was approximately $14.05 per 50-pound equivalent. Multiplying the average handler price by shipment information of 3 million 50-pound equivalent results in an estimated handler-level value of $42 million. Dividing this figure by the number of handlers (30) yields an estimated average annual handler receipts of $1.4 million, which is below the SBA definition of small agricultural service firms. Assuming a normal distribution, the majority of producers and handlers of South Texas onions may be classified as small entities. The amendment proposed by the Committee would reduce the size of the Committee from 34 to 26 members under the Order. The reduction would remove one voting producer and handler member, and one alternate producer and handler member from each of the two districts. The Committee’s proposed amendment was unanimously VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Feb 28, 2018 Jkt 244001 recommended at a meeting on June 7, 2017. If this proposal is approved in referendum, there would be no direct financial effects on producers or handlers. Over the past 15 years there has been a 31-percent decrease in the number of onion producers, and a 34percent decrease in the number of handlers in the production area. Many seats on the Committee remain vacant, as it has been challenging to find sufficient nominees. Having a smaller size Committee would enable it to fulfill membership and quorum requirements, thereby ensuring a more efficient and orderly flow of business. The Committee believes this change will serve the needs of the Committee and the industry. No economic impact is expected if the amendment is approved because it would not establish any regulatory requirements on handlers, nor does it contain any assessment or funding implications. There would be no change in financial costs, reporting, or recordkeeping requirements if this proposal is approved. Alternatives to this proposal, including making no changes at this time, were considered. However, the Committee believes that given reductions in the size of the industry, a smaller Committee size is necessary in order to ensure its ability to locally administer the program. Reducing the size of the Committee would enable it to fulfill membership and quorum requirements, thereby ensuring a more efficient and orderly flow of business. Paperwork Reduction Act 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 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 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 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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. The Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the South Texas onion production area. All interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and encouraged to participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 7, 2017, meeting was public, and all entities, both large and small, were encouraged to express their views on the proposal. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on the proposed amendment to the Order, including comments on the regulatory and information collection impacts of this action on small businesses. Following analysis of any comments received on the amendment proposed in this proposed rule, AMS will evaluate all available information and determine whether to proceed. If appropriate, a proposed rule and notice of referendum would be issued, and producers would be provided the opportunity to vote for or against the proposed amendment. Information about the referendum, including dates and voter eligibility requirements, would be published in a future issue of the Federal Register. A final rule would then be issued to effectuate any amendment favored by producers participating in the referendum. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/ rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. General Findings The findings hereinafter set forth are supplementary to the findings and determinations which were previously made in connection with the issuance of Marketing Order 959; and all said previous findings and determinations are hereby ratified and affirmed, except insofar as such findings and determinations may be in conflict with the findings and determinations set forth herein. 1. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended and all of the terms and conditions thereof, would tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act; 2. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended regulates the E:\FR\FM\01MRP1.SGM 01MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 41 / Thursday, March 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules handling of onions grown in South Texas and is applicable only to persons in the respective classes of commercial and industrial activity specified in the Marketing Order; 3. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended is limited in application to the smallest regional production area which is practicable, consistent with carrying out the declared policy of the Act, and the issuance of several marketing orders applicable to subdivisions of the production area would not effectively carry out the declared policy of the Act; 4. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended prescribes, insofar as practicable, such different terms applicable to different parts of the production area as are necessary to give due recognition to the differences in the production and marketing of onions produced or packed in the production area; and 5. All handling of onions produced or packed in the production area as defined in Marketing Order 959 is in the current of interstate or foreign commerce or directly burdens, obstructs, or affects such commerce. A 60-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposal. Any comments received on the amendment proposed in this proposed rule will be analyzed, and if AMS determines to proceed based on all the information presented, a producer referendum would be conducted to determine producer support for the proposed amendment. If appropriate, a final rule would then be issued to effectuate the amendment favored by producers participating in the referendum. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 959 Onions, Marketing agreements, 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 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 959 continues to read as follows: amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS Establishment and membership. The South Texas Onion Committee, consisting of thirteen members, eight of whom shall be producers and five of whom shall be handlers, is hereby established. For each member of the Committee there shall be an alternate. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Feb 28, 2018 Jkt 244001 § 959.24 [Docket No. FAA–2018–0117; Product Identifier 2017–NM–104–AD] Districts. To determine a basis for selecting Committee members, the following districts of the production area are hereby established: District No. 1: (Coastal Bend-Lower Valley) The Counties of Victoria, Calhoun, Goliad, Refugio, Bee, Live Oak, San Patricio, Aransas, Jim Wells, Nueces, Kleberg, Brooks, Kenedy, Duval, McMullen, Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy in the State of Texas. District No. 2: (Laredo-Winter Garden) The Counties of Zapata, Webb, Jim Hogg De Witt, Wilson, Atascosa, Karnes Val Verde, Frio, Kinney, Uvalde, Medina, Maverick, Zavala, Dimmit, and La Salle in the State of Texas. ■ 4. Revise 959.26 to read as follows: § 959.26 Selection. The Secretary shall select members and respective alternates from districts established pursuant to § 959.24 or § 959.25. Selections shall be as follows: District No. 1: five producer members and alternates; three handler members and alternates. District No. 2: three producer members and alternates; two handler members and alternates. ■ 5. Revise 959.32 paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 959.32 Procedure. (a) Nine members of the Committee shall be necessary to constitute a quorum. Seven concurring votes, or two-thirds of the votes cast, whichever is greater, shall be required to pass any motion or approve any Committee action. At assembled meetings all votes shall be cast in person. * * * * * [Removed and 6. Remove and reserve §§ 959.110 and 959.111. 2. Revise 925.22 to read as follows: § 925.22 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. ■ Producer members and alternates shall not have a proprietary interest in or be employees of a handler organization. ■ 3. Revise 959.24 to read as follows: §§ 959.110 and 959.111 Reserved] ■ 8807 Dated: February 23, 2018. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2018–04076 Filed 2–28–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 RIN 2120–AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Dassault Aviation Airplanes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). AGENCY: We propose to supersede Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2017–01– 07, which applies to all Dassault Aviation Model FAN JET FALCON airplanes, FAN JET FALCON SERIES C, D, E, F, and G airplanes; Model MYSTERE–FALCON 200 airplanes; Model MYSTERE–FALCON 20–C5, 20– D5, 20–E5, and 20–F5 airplanes; and MYSTERE–FALCON 50 airplanes. AD 2017–01–07 requires a functional test or check of the main entry door closure and warning system, and applicable door closing inspections, adjustments, operational tests, and corrective actions if necessary. Since we issued AD 2017– 01–07, we have determined that the required actions must be repetitively performed to ensure continued safety. This proposed AD would require repetitive door closing inspections, adjustments, operational tests, and corrective actions if necessary. We are proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products. DATES: We must receive comments on this proposed AD by April 16, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Fax: 202–493–2251. • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. • Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. For service information identified in this NPRM, contact Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation, Teterboro Airport, P.O. Box 2000, South Hackensack, NJ 07606; telephone: 201–440–6700; internet: https://www.dassaultfalcon.com. You may view this referenced service SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01MRP1.SGM 01MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 41 (Thursday, March 1, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 8804-8807]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-04076]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 959

[AMS-SC-17-0067; SC17-959-4]


Onions Grown in South Texas; Proposed Amendment to Marketing 
Order 959

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: This proposed rule invites comments on a proposed amendment to 
Marketing Order No. 959, which regulates the handling of onions grown 
in south Texas. The proposed amendment would reduce the size of the 
South Texas Onion Committee (Committee) and make conforming and 
clarifying amendments as needed. The amendment would adjust the number 
of handlers and producers on the Committee to reflect a decrease in the 
number of onion producers and handlers in recent years.

DATES: Comments must be received by April 30, 2018.

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, Specialty Crops Program, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or internet: https://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the document number 
and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and 
will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the 
Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: https://www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this 
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: Geronimo Quinones, Marketing 
Specialist, or Julie Santoboni, Rulemaking Branch Chief, Marketing

[[Page 8805]]

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: 
[email protected] or [email protected].
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Richard Lower, 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: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, 
proposes an amendment to regulations issued to carry out a marketing 
order as defined in 7 CFR 900.2(j). This proposal is issued under 
Marketing Order No. 959, as amended (7 CFR part 959), regulating the 
handling of onions grown in south Texas. Part 959 (referred to as 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 Committee locally administers the Marketing Order and is 
comprised of onion producers and handlers operating within the area of 
production.
    Section 608c(17) of the Act and the applicable rules of practice 
and procedure governing the formulation of marketing agreements and 
orders (7 CFR part 900) authorizes amendment of the Order through this 
informal rulemaking action. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 
will consider comments received in response to this proposed rule, and 
based on all the information available, will determine if the Order 
amendment is warranted. If AMS determines amendment of the Order is 
warranted, a subsequent proposed rule and notice of referendum would be 
issued and producers would be allowed to vote for or against the 
proposed Order amendment. AMS would then issue a final rule 
effectuating any amendments approved by producers in the referendum.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this proposed rule 
in conformance with Executive Orders 13563 and 13175. This action falls 
within a category of regulatory actions that the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) exempted from Executive Order 12866 review. 
Additionally, because this proposed rule does not meet the definition 
of a significant regulatory action it does not trigger the requirements 
contained in Executive Order 13771. See OMB's Memorandum titled 
``Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order of 
January 30, 2017, titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling 
Regulatory Costs'[thinsp]'' (February 2, 2017).
    This proposal has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
This rule shall not be deemed to preclude, preempt, or supersede any 
State program covering onions grown in south Texas.
    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 no later than 20 days after the date of 
entry of the ruling.
    Section 1504 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 
(2008 Farm Bill) (Pub. L. 110-246) amended section 8c(17) of the Act, 
which in turn required the addition of supplemental rules of practice 
to 7 CFR part 900 (73 FR 49307; August 21, 2008). The amendment of 
section 8c(17) of the Act and additional supplemental rules of practice 
authorize the use of informal rulemaking (5 U.S.C. 553) to amend 
Federal fruit, vegetable, and nut marketing agreements and orders. USDA 
may use informal rulemaking to amend marketing orders based on the 
nature and complexity of the proposed amendments, the potential 
regulatory and economic impacts on affected entities, and any other 
relevant matters.
    AMS has considered these factors and has determined that the 
amendment proposed is not unduly complex and the nature of the proposed 
amendment is appropriate for utilizing the informal rulemaking process 
to amend the Order. A discussion of the potential regulatory and 
economic impacts on affected entities is discussed later in the 
``Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis'' section of this proposed 
rule.
    The proposed amendment was unanimously recommended by the Committee 
following deliberations at a public meeting held on June 7, 2017. The 
proposal would amend the Order by reducing the size of the Committee 
from 34 to 26 members. The change would remove one voting producer and 
handler member, and one alternate producer and handler member from each 
of the two districts.

Proposal--Reduce Committee Size

    Section 959.22 provides that the Committee consists of seventeen 
members, ten of whom shall be producers and seven of whom shall be 
handlers. For each member of the Committee there shall be an alternate.
    This proposal would amend Sec.  959.22 by reducing the size of the 
Committee from 34 to 26 members. The Committee size is based on 
membership per district. The Order initially established five 
districts, which were reestablished as two districts in Sec.  959.110. 
Section 959.111 reapportioned the 34 Committee members between the two 
districts so that District 1 was comprised of 20 members and alternates 
and District 1 was comprised of 14 members and alternates. However, due 
to contractions in the size of the industry, the Committee has had 
difficulties finding nominees to fill positions on the Committee. The 
change would remove one voting producer and handler member, and one 
alternate producer and handler member from each of the two districts 
(eight members total). Conforming and clarifying changes would also be 
made to Sec. Sec.  959.24, 959.26, 959.32, and Sec. Sec.  959.110 and 
959.111 would be removed.
    This proposed action is necessary to adjust the number of handlers 
and producers on the Committee to reflect industry consolidation. There 
has been a decrease in the number of onion producers and handlers over 
the past 15 years. The current structure of the Committee requires 34 
members, with half the members elected on biennial terms. Many seats 
remain vacant, as finding sufficient members to nominate has been 
challenging. Having a smaller size committee would enable it to fulfill 
membership and quorum requirements, thereby ensuring a more efficient 
and orderly flow of business.
    For the reasons stated above, it is proposed that Sec.  959.22 be 
modified to reduce the size of the Committee from 34 to 26 members. 
Conforming and clarifying changes would also be made to Sec. Sec.  
959.24, 959.26, 959.32, and Sec. Sec.  959.110 and 959.111 would be 
removed.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA)

[[Page 8806]]

(5 U.S.C. 601-612), 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 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 30 handlers subject to regulation under the 
marketing order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small 
Business Administration as those having annual receipts less than 
$750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those 
whose annual receipts are less than $7,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    Based on information from the National Agricultural Statistics 
Service, the weighted grower price for South Texas onions during the 
2015-16 season was approximately $12.30 per 50-pound equivalent. 
Furthermore, according to Committee data, total shipments were 
approximately three million 50-pound equivalents for the 2015-16 season 
with a total 2015-16 crop value estimated at $37 million. Dividing the 
crop value by the estimated number of producers (60) yields an 
estimated average receipt per producer of $617,000. This is below the 
$750,000 SBA definition of small producers. The average handler price 
for South Texas onions during the 2015-16 season was approximately 
$14.05 per 50-pound equivalent. Multiplying the average handler price 
by shipment information of 3 million 50-pound equivalent results in an 
estimated handler-level value of $42 million. Dividing this figure by 
the number of handlers (30) yields an estimated average annual handler 
receipts of $1.4 million, which is below the SBA definition of small 
agricultural service firms. Assuming a normal distribution, the 
majority of producers and handlers of South Texas onions may be 
classified as small entities.
    The amendment proposed by the Committee would reduce the size of 
the Committee from 34 to 26 members under the Order. The reduction 
would remove one voting producer and handler member, and one alternate 
producer and handler member from each of the two districts.
    The Committee's proposed amendment was unanimously recommended at a 
meeting on June 7, 2017. If this proposal is approved in referendum, 
there would be no direct financial effects on producers or handlers. 
Over the past 15 years there has been a 31-percent decrease in the 
number of onion producers, and a 34-percent decrease in the number of 
handlers in the production area. Many seats on the Committee remain 
vacant, as it has been challenging to find sufficient nominees. Having 
a smaller size Committee would enable it to fulfill membership and 
quorum requirements, thereby ensuring a more efficient and orderly flow 
of business.
    The Committee believes this change will serve the needs of the 
Committee and the industry. No economic impact is expected if the 
amendment is approved because it would not establish any regulatory 
requirements on handlers, nor does it contain any assessment or funding 
implications. There would be no change in financial costs, reporting, 
or recordkeeping requirements if this proposal is approved.
    Alternatives to this proposal, including making no changes at this 
time, were considered. However, the Committee believes that given 
reductions in the size of the industry, a smaller Committee size is 
necessary in order to ensure its ability to locally administer the 
program. Reducing the size of the Committee would enable it to fulfill 
membership and quorum requirements, thereby ensuring a more efficient 
and orderly flow of business.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    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 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 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.
    The Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout the South 
Texas onion production area. All interested persons were invited to 
attend the meeting and encouraged to participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 7, 
2017, meeting was public, and all entities, both large and small, were 
encouraged to express their views on the proposal.
    Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on the 
proposed amendment to the Order, including comments on the regulatory 
and information collection impacts of this action on small businesses.
    Following analysis of any comments received on the amendment 
proposed in this proposed rule, AMS will evaluate all available 
information and determine whether to proceed. If appropriate, a 
proposed rule and notice of referendum would be issued, and producers 
would be provided the opportunity to vote for or against the proposed 
amendment. Information about the referendum, including dates and voter 
eligibility requirements, would be published in a future issue of the 
Federal Register. A final rule would then be issued to effectuate any 
amendment favored by producers participating in the referendum.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the 
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section.

General Findings

    The findings hereinafter set forth are supplementary to the 
findings and determinations which were previously made in connection 
with the issuance of Marketing Order 959; and all said previous 
findings and determinations are hereby ratified and affirmed, except 
insofar as such findings and determinations may be in conflict with the 
findings and determinations set forth herein.
    1. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended and all of 
the terms and conditions thereof, would tend to effectuate the declared 
policy of the Act;
    2. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended regulates 
the

[[Page 8807]]

handling of onions grown in South Texas and is applicable only to 
persons in the respective classes of commercial and industrial activity 
specified in the Marketing Order;
    3. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended is limited 
in application to the smallest regional production area which is 
practicable, consistent with carrying out the declared policy of the 
Act, and the issuance of several marketing orders applicable to 
subdivisions of the production area would not effectively carry out the 
declared policy of the Act;
    4. Marketing Order 959 as hereby proposed to be amended prescribes, 
insofar as practicable, such different terms applicable to different 
parts of the production area as are necessary to give due recognition 
to the differences in the production and marketing of onions produced 
or packed in the production area; and
    5. All handling of onions produced or packed in the production area 
as defined in Marketing Order 959 is in the current of interstate or 
foreign commerce or directly burdens, obstructs, or affects such 
commerce.
    A 60-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to 
respond to this proposal. Any comments received on the amendment 
proposed in this proposed rule will be analyzed, and if AMS determines 
to proceed based on all the information presented, a producer 
referendum would be conducted to determine producer support for the 
proposed amendment. If appropriate, a final rule would then be issued 
to effectuate the amendment favored by producers participating in the 
referendum.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 959

    Onions, Marketing agreements, 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. Revise 925.22 to read as follows:


Sec.  925.22  Establishment and membership.

    The South Texas Onion Committee, consisting of thirteen members, 
eight of whom shall be producers and five of whom shall be handlers, is 
hereby established. For each member of the Committee there shall be an 
alternate. Producer members and alternates shall not have a proprietary 
interest in or be employees of a handler organization.
0
3. Revise 959.24 to read as follows:


Sec.  959.24  Districts.

    To determine a basis for selecting Committee members, the following 
districts of the production area are hereby established:
    District No. 1: (Coastal Bend-Lower Valley) The Counties of 
Victoria, Calhoun, Goliad, Refugio, Bee, Live Oak, San Patricio, 
Aransas, Jim Wells, Nueces, Kleberg, Brooks, Kenedy, Duval, McMullen, 
Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy in the State of Texas.
    District No. 2: (Laredo-Winter Garden) The Counties of Zapata, 
Webb, Jim Hogg De Witt, Wilson, Atascosa, Karnes Val Verde, Frio, 
Kinney, Uvalde, Medina, Maverick, Zavala, Dimmit, and La Salle in the 
State of Texas.
0
4. Revise 959.26 to read as follows:


Sec.  959.26  Selection.

    The Secretary shall select members and respective alternates from 
districts established pursuant to Sec.  959.24 or Sec.  959.25. 
Selections shall be as follows:
    District No. 1: five producer members and alternates; three handler 
members and alternates.
    District No. 2: three producer members and alternates; two handler 
members and alternates.
0
5. Revise 959.32 paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  959.32  Procedure.

    (a) Nine members of the Committee shall be necessary to constitute 
a quorum. Seven concurring votes, or two-thirds of the votes cast, 
whichever is greater, shall be required to pass any motion or approve 
any Committee action. At assembled meetings all votes shall be cast in 
person.
* * * * *


Sec. Sec.  959.110 and 959.111  [Removed and Reserved]

0
6. Remove and reserve Sec. Sec.  959.110 and 959.111.

    Dated: February 23, 2018.
Bruce Summers,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-04076 Filed 2-28-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P