Almonds Grown in California; Adjusted Kernel Weight Computation, 17506-17509 [2018-08249]

Download as PDF 17506 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 77 / Friday, April 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules the location and hours of the reading room are provided under the heading ADDRESSES at the beginning of this proposed rule.) Copies can also be obtained from Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS’ Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851–2483. APHIS will respond to any ICR-related comments in the final rule. All comments will also become a matter of public record. E-Government Act Compliance The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is committed to compliance with the EGovernment 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. For information pertinent to E-Government Act compliance related to this proposed rule, please contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS’ Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851– 2483. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 319 Coffee, Cotton, Fruits, Imports, Logs, Nursery stock, Plant diseases and pests, Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rice, Vegetables. Accordingly, we propose to amend 7 CFR part 319 as follows: PART 319—FOREIGN QUARANTINE NOTICES 1. The authority citation for part 319 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 450, 7701–7772, and 7781–7786; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 136a; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3. ■ 2. Add § 319.56–83 to read as follows: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS § 319.56–83 Ecuador. Fresh cape gooseberry from Fresh cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) fruit may be imported into the continental United States only under the conditions described in this section. These conditions are designed to prevent the introduction of Ceratitis capitata. (a) General requirements. (1) The national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Ecuador must provide an operational workplan to APHIS that details the activities that the NPPO of Ecuador will, subject to APHIS’ approval of the workplan, carry out to meet the requirements of this section. APHIS will be directly involved with the NPPO of Ecuador in monitoring and auditing implementation of the systems approach. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Apr 19, 2018 Jkt 244001 (2) The production site where the fruit is grown must be registered with the NPPO of Ecuador. (3) Harvested fresh cape gooseberry fruit must be placed in field cartons or containers that are marked to show the official identification of the production site. (4) All openings to the outside of the packinghouse where the fruit is packed must be covered by screening or by some other barrier that prevents pests from entering. The packinghouse must have double doors at the entrance to the facility and at the interior entrance to the area where the fresh cape gooseberry fruit is packed. (5) Each consignment of fresh cape gooseberry fruit must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of Ecuador that contains an additional declaration stating that the fruit in the consignment was produced in accordance with § 319.56–83. (b) Commercial consignments. The fresh cape gooseberry fruit may be imported in commercial consignments only. (c) To be eligible for importation, the fresh cape gooseberry fruit must either be produced and shipped under the systems approach described in paragraph (d) of this section or treated in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section. (d) Systems approach. The fresh cape gooseberry fruit may be imported without treatment if it is subject to a systems approach consisting of the following: (1) Low-prevalence production site certification. The fruit must originate from a registered production site within a low prevalence area for C. capitata that has been certified as such by the NPPO of Ecuador. (2) Fruit fly trapping. (i) Trapping for C. capitata must be conducted in the places of production in accordance with the operational workplan to demonstrate that those places are free of C. capitata. Specific trapping requirements must be included in the operational workplan. The NPPO of Ecuador must keep records of fruit fly detections for each trap and make the records available to APHIS upon request. (ii) All fruit flies trapped must be reported to APHIS immediately. Capture of C. capitata will result in immediate cancellation of exports from farms within 5 kilometer radius of the detection site. An additional 50 traps must be placed in the 5 square kilometer area surrounding the detection site. If a second detection is made within the detection areas within 30 days of a previous capture, eradication using a PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 bait spray agreed upon by APHIS and the NPPO of Ecuador must be initiated in the detection area. Treatment must continue for at least 2 months. Sites whose exports have been canceled under this paragraph will be eligible to export fruit to the United States only if the fruit is treated in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section. Exports may resume from the detection area in accordance with this paragraph (d) when APHIS and the NPPO of Ecuador agree the risk has been mitigated. (3) Phytosanitary inspection. After packing, the NPPO of Ecuador must visually inspect the fresh cape gooseberry fruit at a rate jointly approved by APHIS and the NPPO of Ecuador. Any fruit displaying evidence of pest presence must be cut open for further examination. Only in the case where at least one single live C. capitata is found, the consignment will not pass inspection. Any consignment that does not pass inspection may still be imported into the continental United States subject to treatment as provided in paragraph (e) of this section. (e) Treatment. The fresh cape gooseberry fruit may be imported into the continental United States without meeting the conditions of paragraph (d) of this section if the fruit is subject to cold treatment or irradiation treatment in accordance with part 305 of this chapter. If the irradiation treatment is completed in Ecuador, each consignment of fresh cape gooseberry fruit must be accompanied by documentation to validate foreign site preclearance inspection of the consignment. Done in Washington, DC, this 16th day of April 2018. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. [FR Doc. 2018–08251 Filed 4–19–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–34–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 981 [Doc. No. AMS–SC–17–0084; SC18–981–1 PR] Almonds Grown in California; Adjusted Kernel Weight Computation Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the Almond Board of California (Board) to SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\20APP1.SGM 20APP1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 77 / Friday, April 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules revise the adjusted kernel weight computation currently prescribed under the Marketing Order for almonds grown in California. In addition, this action would allow adjustments to the calculated percentages for foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum of the percentages for the specified measurements would equal 100 percent. DATES: Comments must be received by May 21, 2018. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this proposal. 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 proposal 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: Andrea Ricci, Marketing Specialist, or Jeffrey Smutny, 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: Andrea.Ricci@ams.usda.gov or Jeffrey.Smutny@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 proposed rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 981, as amended (7 CFR part 981), regulating the handling of almonds grown in California. Part 981 (referred to as the ‘‘Order’’) is effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Apr 19, 2018 Jkt 244001 of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601–674), hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘Act.’’ The Board locally administers the Order and is comprised of growers and handlers operating within California. 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’ ’’ (February 2, 2017). This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This proposed rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA’s ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling. This proposed rule invites comments on revisions to the adjusted kernel weight computation currently prescribed for almonds under the Order. This proposal would change the way adjusted kernel weight is expressed by requiring calculation of percentages for specified measurements to round the decimal to the nearest thousandth rather than the current hundredth. In addition, this proposed rule would allow adjustments to the calculated percentages for foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum of the percentages for the specified measurements would equal 100 percent. The Board unanimously recommended these changes at its December 4, 2017, meeting. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 17507 Section 981.42 provides authority for quality control regulations. Paragraph (a) of that section requires that each handler shall have the inspection agency determine the percentage of inedible kernels received by that handler and report such determination to the Board. Section 981.442(a)(1) prescribes that each handler shall have a representative sample drawn from each lot of any variety of incoming almonds that the handler receives. Section 981.442(a)(3) prescribes that each such sample shall be analyzed by or under surveillance of the Federal-State Inspection Service (or, when specifically designated, the Federal Inspection Service) to determine the kernel content and the portion of inedible kernels in the sample. The inspection agency prepares a report showing, among other things, the total adjusted kernel weight. This report is submitted by the inspection agency to the Board and the handler. Section 981.401(a) defines adjusted kernel weight. Section 981.401(b) provides examples of the computation that is used to determine adjusted kernel weight. This computation includes a calculation of percentages for specified measurements of edible kernels, inedible kernels, foreign material, and excess moisture. The table of examples contained in § 981.401(b) shows percentages rounded to the nearest tenth and the nearest hundredth decimal place. However, in practice, the calculated percentages are currently being rounded to the nearest hundredth decimal place. Currently, the inspection agency utilizes a computer-based database program that computes and totals the percentages for the specified measurements. As part of the program’s computation process, it automatically makes adjustments, when needed, so that the total of the percentages equals 100 percent. This program has been used for several years, and the industry is accustomed to receiving reports from the inspection agency that show the 100-percent summed total. In early 2017, the USDA inspection service began testing a new web-based program that will replace the computerbased program described above. During this testing, USDA discovered that, due to the rounding method used by the new program, the sum of the percentages occasionally did not equal 100 percent. It was further determined during testing that having the new program round the decimal to the nearest thousandth, rather than the nearest hundredth as currently provided in the Order, would produce more accurate results. E:\FR\FM\20APP1.SGM 20APP1 17508 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 77 / Friday, April 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS The new program could also make automatic minor adjustments to the percentage computations for foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum of the percentages would always equal 100 percent. This allowance for automatic adjustments of these specified measurements aligns with industry practice that has existed for many years. As a result of these test results, the Board determined that rounding the decimal to the nearest thousandth rather than the current hundredth would provide a more accurate computed percentage. In addition, allowing the program to make adjustments to the calculated percentages for foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels would align the requirements under the Order with current industry practices, ensuring the continuance of longstanding reporting practices and transparency in the program. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601–612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this proposed rule on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued pursuant to the Act, and 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 6,800 almond growers in the production area and approximately 100 almond handlers subject to regulation under the Order. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts of less than $7,500,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201). The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported in its most recent (2012) Agricultural Census that there were 6,841 almond farms in the production area (California), of which 6,204 had bearing acres. The following computation provides an estimate of the proportion of agricultural producers (farms) and agricultural service firms (handlers) that would be considered small under the SBA definitions. The NASS Census data indicates that out of the 6,204 California farms with VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Apr 19, 2018 Jkt 244001 bearing acres of almonds, 4,471 (72 percent) have fewer than 100 bearing acres. For the almond industry’s most recently reported crop year (2016), NASS reported an average yield of 2,280 pounds per acre and a season average grower price of $2.44 per pound. A 100acre farm with an average yield of 2,280 pounds per acre would produce about 228,000 pounds of almonds. At $2.44 per pound, that farm’s production would be valued at $556,320. The Census of Agriculture indicates that the majority of California’s almond farms are smaller than 100 acres; therefore, it could be concluded that the majority of growers had annual receipts from the sale of almonds in 2016–17 of less than $556,320, which is below the SBA threshold of $750,000. Thus, over 70 percent of California’s almond growers would be classified as small growers according to SBA’s definition. To estimate the proportion of almond handlers that would be considered small businesses, it was assumed that the unit value per shelled pound of almonds exported in a particular year could serve as a representative almond price at the handler level. A unit value for a commodity is the value of exports divided by the quantity. Data from the Global Agricultural Trade System database of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service showed that the value of almond exports from August 2016 to July 2017 (combining shelled and inshell almonds) was $4.072 billion. The quantity of almond exports over that time period was 1.406 billion pounds, combining shelled exports and the shelled equivalent of inshell exports. Dividing the export value by the quantity yields a unit value of $2.90 per pound. Subtracting this figure from the NASS 2016 estimate of season average grower price per pound ($2.44) yields $0.46 per pound as a representative grower-handler margin. Applying the $2.90 representative handler price per pound to 2016–17 handler shipment quantities provided by the Board showed that approximately 40 percent of California’s almond handlers shipped almonds valued under $7,500,000 during the 2016–17 crop year and would therefore be considered small handlers according to the SBA definition. This proposed rule would revise the adjusted kernel weight computation in § 981.401 by requiring calculation of the percentages for specified measurements to round the decimal to the nearest thousandth rather than the current hundredth. In addition, this action would allow adjustments to the calculated percentages for foreign PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum of the percentages for the specified measurements would equal 100 percent. Requiring rounding of the decimal to the nearest thousandth would provide for a more accurate computed percentage. In addition, allowing adjustments to the foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernel measurements would align the Order with current industry practices, ensuring the continuance of longstanding reporting practices and transparency in the program. Authority for this action is provided in § 981.42(a) of the Order. The Board recommended this action at a meeting on December 4, 2017. It is not anticipated that this action would impose additional costs on handlers or growers, regardless of size. The proposed changes are intended to align provisions of the Order with current industry practices. This proposed rule is not expected to change handler inspection costs, as handlers are currently required to have all lots inspected to determine kernel content. The Board considered alternatives to this action, including not changing the current computation procedures. Prior to this recommendation, the Board’s Almond Quality, Food Safety and Services Committee (Committee) reviewed the program, surveyed handlers, and determined that not changing the computation procedures to align with current industry practices would cause disruption in the industry. Therefore, the Committee unanimously recommended this action to the Board at a meeting on November 16, 2017. 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 are necessary in those requirements as a result of this action. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval. This proposed rule would not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large almond 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 E:\FR\FM\20APP1.SGM 20APP1 17509 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 77 / Friday, April 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules 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 proposed rule. Further, the Board’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the almond industry, and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Board deliberations. Like all Board meetings, the December 4, 2017, meeting was a public meeting, and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their views on this issue. Also, the Board has a number of appointed committees to review certain issues and make recommendations to the Board. The Committee met on November 16, 2017, and discussed this issue in detail. That meeting was also a public meeting, and both large and small entities were able to participate and express their views. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on this proposed rule, including the regulatory and information collection impacts of this action on small businesses. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/ 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 proposal. All written comments timely received will be considered before a final determination is made on this matter. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 981 Almonds, Marketing agreements, Nuts, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 981 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 981—ALMONDS GROWN IN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 981 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. In § 981.401, revise the table in paragraph (b) and add paragraph (c) to read as follows: ■ § 981.401 * Adjusted kernel weight. * * (b) * * * * * Computation No. 1 Computation No. 2 Deliveries with less than 95 percent kernels Deliveries with 95 percent or more kernels Percent of sample 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Actual gross weight of delivery .................................................................... Percent of edible kernel weight ................................................................... Less weight loss in processing 1 ................................................................. Less excess moisture of edible kernels (excess moisture × line 2) ........... Net percent shell out (line 2 ¥ lines 3 and 4) ............................................ Net edible kernels (line 5 × line 1) .............................................................. Percent of inedible kernels (from sample) .................................................. Less excess moisture of inedible kernels (excess moisture from sample × line 7) ........................................................................................................... 9. Net percent inedible kernels (line 7 ¥ line 8) ............................................. 10. Total inedible kernels (line 9 × line 1) ....................................................... 11. Adjusted kernel weight (line 6 + line 10) ................................................... 1 Only Percent of sample Weight (pounds) ........................ 53.000 1.000 1.060 50.940 ........................ 12.000 10,000 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 5,094 ........................ ........................ 84.000 0.000 1.680 82.320 ........................ 12.000 10,000 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 8,232 ........................ 0.240 11.760 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 1,176 6,270 0.240 11.760 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 1,176 9,408 applies to deliveries with less than 95 percent kernels. (c) Computation Adjustments. If applicable, adjustments shall be made by rounding such that the sample computation percentages total equals 100 percent. Rounding adjustments shall be made as follows: First adjust the foreign material percentage; if there is no foreign material in the sample, then adjust the excess moisture percentage; or if there is no foreign material or excess moisture in the sample, adjust the inedible kernels percentage. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Weight (pounds) Dated: April 16, 2018. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2018–08249 Filed 4–19–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Apr 19, 2018 Jkt 244001 FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION 11 CFR Chapter 113 [Notice 2018–07] Rulemaking Petition: Former Candidates’ Personal Use; Correction Federal Election Commission. Rulemaking Petition; Notification of Availability; Correction. AGENCY: ACTION: The Federal Election Commission published a Notification of Availability in the Federal Register on March 21, 2018 regarding a Petition for Rulemaking it received on February 5, 2018. The petition asked the Commission to revise and amend the existing rules concerning the personal use of campaign funds, specifically to clarify the application of those rules to former candidates and officeholders. The published document contained SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 errors in the ADDRESSES and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION captions. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Robert M. Knop, Assistant General Counsel, 1050 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20463, (202) 694–1650 or (800) 424–9530. CORRECTION: In the Federal Register of March 21, 2018, 83 FR 12283, in the ADDRESSES caption, in the first column, correct the first paragraph to read: ADDRESSES: All comments must be in writing. Commenters are encouraged to submit comments electronically via the Commission’s website at https:// sers.fec.gov/fosers/rulemaking.htm?pid= 2883684, which references REG 2018– 01. Alternatively, commenters may submit comments in paper form, addressed to the Federal Election Commission, Attn.: Robert M. Knop, Assistant General Counsel, 1050 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20463. E:\FR\FM\20APP1.SGM 20APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 77 (Friday, April 20, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 17506-17509]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-08249]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 981

[Doc. No. AMS-SC-17-0084; SC18-981-1 PR]


Almonds Grown in California; Adjusted Kernel Weight Computation

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the 
Almond Board of California (Board) to

[[Page 17507]]

revise the adjusted kernel weight computation currently prescribed 
under the Marketing Order for almonds grown in California. In addition, 
this action would allow adjustments to the calculated percentages for 
foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum 
of the percentages for the specified measurements would equal 100 
percent.

DATES: Comments must be received by May 21, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this proposal. 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 proposal 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: Andrea Ricci, Marketing Specialist, or 
Jeffrey Smutny, 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: 
[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 proposed rule is issued under 
Marketing Order No. 981, as amended (7 CFR part 981), regulating the 
handling of almonds grown in California. Part 981 (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 Board locally administers the Order and is comprised of 
growers and handlers operating within California.
    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' '' (February 2, 2017).
    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. This proposed rule is not intended to have 
retroactive effect.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the 
Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition 
stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation 
imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and 
request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A 
handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. 
After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides 
that the district court of the United States in any district in which 
the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of 
business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    This proposed rule invites comments on revisions to the adjusted 
kernel weight computation currently prescribed for almonds under the 
Order. This proposal would change the way adjusted kernel weight is 
expressed by requiring calculation of percentages for specified 
measurements to round the decimal to the nearest thousandth rather than 
the current hundredth. In addition, this proposed rule would allow 
adjustments to the calculated percentages for foreign material, excess 
moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum of the percentages for 
the specified measurements would equal 100 percent. The Board 
unanimously recommended these changes at its December 4, 2017, meeting.
    Section 981.42 provides authority for quality control regulations. 
Paragraph (a) of that section requires that each handler shall have the 
inspection agency determine the percentage of inedible kernels received 
by that handler and report such determination to the Board.
    Section 981.442(a)(1) prescribes that each handler shall have a 
representative sample drawn from each lot of any variety of incoming 
almonds that the handler receives. Section 981.442(a)(3) prescribes 
that each such sample shall be analyzed by or under surveillance of the 
Federal-State Inspection Service (or, when specifically designated, the 
Federal Inspection Service) to determine the kernel content and the 
portion of inedible kernels in the sample. The inspection agency 
prepares a report showing, among other things, the total adjusted 
kernel weight. This report is submitted by the inspection agency to the 
Board and the handler.
    Section 981.401(a) defines adjusted kernel weight. Section 
981.401(b) provides examples of the computation that is used to 
determine adjusted kernel weight. This computation includes a 
calculation of percentages for specified measurements of edible 
kernels, inedible kernels, foreign material, and excess moisture. The 
table of examples contained in Sec.  981.401(b) shows percentages 
rounded to the nearest tenth and the nearest hundredth decimal place. 
However, in practice, the calculated percentages are currently being 
rounded to the nearest hundredth decimal place.
    Currently, the inspection agency utilizes a computer-based database 
program that computes and totals the percentages for the specified 
measurements. As part of the program's computation process, it 
automatically makes adjustments, when needed, so that the total of the 
percentages equals 100 percent. This program has been used for several 
years, and the industry is accustomed to receiving reports from the 
inspection agency that show the 100-percent summed total.
    In early 2017, the USDA inspection service began testing a new web-
based program that will replace the computer-based program described 
above. During this testing, USDA discovered that, due to the rounding 
method used by the new program, the sum of the percentages occasionally 
did not equal 100 percent. It was further determined during testing 
that having the new program round the decimal to the nearest 
thousandth, rather than the nearest hundredth as currently provided in 
the Order, would produce more accurate results.

[[Page 17508]]

    The new program could also make automatic minor adjustments to the 
percentage computations for foreign material, excess moisture, or 
inedible kernels so that the sum of the percentages would always equal 
100 percent. This allowance for automatic adjustments of these 
specified measurements aligns with industry practice that has existed 
for many years.
    As a result of these test results, the Board determined that 
rounding the decimal to the nearest thousandth rather than the current 
hundredth would provide a more accurate computed percentage. In 
addition, allowing the program to make adjustments to the calculated 
percentages for foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels 
would align the requirements under the Order with current industry 
practices, ensuring the continuance of longstanding reporting practices 
and transparency in the program.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 
has considered the economic impact of this proposed rule on small 
entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will 
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued 
pursuant to the Act, and 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 6,800 almond growers in the production area 
and approximately 100 almond handlers subject to regulation under the 
Order. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small 
Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts of less 
than $7,500,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those 
having annual receipts of less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported in its 
most recent (2012) Agricultural Census that there were 6,841 almond 
farms in the production area (California), of which 6,204 had bearing 
acres. The following computation provides an estimate of the proportion 
of agricultural producers (farms) and agricultural service firms 
(handlers) that would be considered small under the SBA definitions.
    The NASS Census data indicates that out of the 6,204 California 
farms with bearing acres of almonds, 4,471 (72 percent) have fewer than 
100 bearing acres.
    For the almond industry's most recently reported crop year (2016), 
NASS reported an average yield of 2,280 pounds per acre and a season 
average grower price of $2.44 per pound. A 100-acre farm with an 
average yield of 2,280 pounds per acre would produce about 228,000 
pounds of almonds. At $2.44 per pound, that farm's production would be 
valued at $556,320. The Census of Agriculture indicates that the 
majority of California's almond farms are smaller than 100 acres; 
therefore, it could be concluded that the majority of growers had 
annual receipts from the sale of almonds in 2016-17 of less than 
$556,320, which is below the SBA threshold of $750,000. Thus, over 70 
percent of California's almond growers would be classified as small 
growers according to SBA's definition.
    To estimate the proportion of almond handlers that would be 
considered small businesses, it was assumed that the unit value per 
shelled pound of almonds exported in a particular year could serve as a 
representative almond price at the handler level. A unit value for a 
commodity is the value of exports divided by the quantity. Data from 
the Global Agricultural Trade System database of USDA's Foreign 
Agricultural Service showed that the value of almond exports from 
August 2016 to July 2017 (combining shelled and inshell almonds) was 
$4.072 billion. The quantity of almond exports over that time period 
was 1.406 billion pounds, combining shelled exports and the shelled 
equivalent of inshell exports. Dividing the export value by the 
quantity yields a unit value of $2.90 per pound. Subtracting this 
figure from the NASS 2016 estimate of season average grower price per 
pound ($2.44) yields $0.46 per pound as a representative grower-handler 
margin. Applying the $2.90 representative handler price per pound to 
2016-17 handler shipment quantities provided by the Board showed that 
approximately 40 percent of California's almond handlers shipped 
almonds valued under $7,500,000 during the 2016-17 crop year and would 
therefore be considered small handlers according to the SBA definition.
    This proposed rule would revise the adjusted kernel weight 
computation in Sec.  981.401 by requiring calculation of the 
percentages for specified measurements to round the decimal to the 
nearest thousandth rather than the current hundredth. In addition, this 
action would allow adjustments to the calculated percentages for 
foreign material, excess moisture, or inedible kernels so that the sum 
of the percentages for the specified measurements would equal 100 
percent. Requiring rounding of the decimal to the nearest thousandth 
would provide for a more accurate computed percentage. In addition, 
allowing adjustments to the foreign material, excess moisture, or 
inedible kernel measurements would align the Order with current 
industry practices, ensuring the continuance of longstanding reporting 
practices and transparency in the program. Authority for this action is 
provided in Sec.  981.42(a) of the Order. The Board recommended this 
action at a meeting on December 4, 2017.
    It is not anticipated that this action would impose additional 
costs on handlers or growers, regardless of size. The proposed changes 
are intended to align provisions of the Order with current industry 
practices. This proposed rule is not expected to change handler 
inspection costs, as handlers are currently required to have all lots 
inspected to determine kernel content.
    The Board considered alternatives to this action, including not 
changing the current computation procedures. Prior to this 
recommendation, the Board's Almond Quality, Food Safety and Services 
Committee (Committee) reviewed the program, surveyed handlers, and 
determined that not changing the computation procedures to align with 
current industry practices would cause disruption in the industry. 
Therefore, the Committee unanimously recommended this action to the 
Board at a meeting on November 16, 2017.
    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 are necessary in those requirements as 
a result of this action. Should any changes become necessary, they 
would be submitted to OMB for approval.
    This proposed rule would not impose any additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large almond 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

[[Page 17509]]

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 proposed rule.
    Further, the Board's meeting was widely publicized throughout the 
almond industry, and all interested persons were invited to attend the 
meeting and participate in Board deliberations. Like all Board 
meetings, the December 4, 2017, meeting was a public meeting, and all 
entities, both large and small, were able to express their views on 
this issue.
    Also, the Board has a number of appointed committees to review 
certain issues and make recommendations to the Board. The Committee met 
on November 16, 2017, and discussed this issue in detail. That meeting 
was also a public meeting, and both large and small entities were able 
to participate and express their views.
    Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on this 
proposed rule, including the regulatory and information collection 
impacts of this action on small businesses.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/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 proposal. All written comments timely received will be 
considered before a final determination is made on this matter.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 981

    Almonds, Marketing agreements, Nuts, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 981 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 981--ALMONDS GROWN IN CALIFORNIA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 981 continues to read as 
follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  981.401, revise the table in paragraph (b) and add 
paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  981.401  Adjusted kernel weight.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Computation No. 1               Computation No. 2
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Deliveries with less than 95    Deliveries with 95 percent or
                                                          percent kernels                  more kernels
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Percent of        Weight        Percent of        Weight
                                                      sample         (pounds)         sample         (pounds)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Actual gross weight of delivery..............  ..............          10,000  ..............          10,000
2. Percent of edible kernel weight..............          53.000  ..............          84.000  ..............
3. Less weight loss in processing \1\...........           1.000  ..............           0.000  ..............
4. Less excess moisture of edible kernels                  1.060  ..............           1.680  ..............
 (excess moisture x line 2).....................
5. Net percent shell out (line 2 - lines 3 and            50.940  ..............          82.320  ..............
 4).............................................
6. Net edible kernels (line 5 x line 1).........  ..............           5,094  ..............           8,232
7. Percent of inedible kernels (from sample)....          12.000  ..............          12.000  ..............
8. Less excess moisture of inedible kernels                0.240  ..............           0.240  ..............
 (excess moisture from sample x line 7).........
9. Net percent inedible kernels (line 7 - line            11.760  ..............          11.760  ..............
 8).............................................
10. Total inedible kernels (line 9 x line 1)....  ..............           1,176  ..............           1,176
11. Adjusted kernel weight (line 6 + line 10)...  ..............           6,270  ..............           9,408
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Only applies to deliveries with less than 95 percent kernels.

    (c) Computation Adjustments. If applicable, adjustments shall be 
made by rounding such that the sample computation percentages total 
equals 100 percent. Rounding adjustments shall be made as follows: 
First adjust the foreign material percentage; if there is no foreign 
material in the sample, then adjust the excess moisture percentage; or 
if there is no foreign material or excess moisture in the sample, 
adjust the inedible kernels percentage.

    Dated: April 16, 2018.
Bruce Summers,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-08249 Filed 4-19-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-02-P