Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate, 64969-64971 [2019-25660]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 228 / Tuesday, November 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations were received regarding the initial regulatory flexibility analysis. 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. 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, 2018, 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 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. A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal Register on July 12, 2019 (84 FR 33182). Copies of the proposed rule were provided to Board members and California almond handlers. Additionally, the proposed rule was made available through the internet by USDA and the Office of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending August 12, 2019, was provided to allow interested persons to respond to the proposal. No comments were received. Accordingly, USDA will make no changes to the rule as proposed. AMS submitted a request to OMB for approval to modify three existing forms and create one new form in relation to the accepted user program. Once approved, the new information collection will be merged with the forms currently approved under OMB No. 0581–0178 Vegetable and Specialty Crops. This process for seeking approval of information collection requirements complies with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). Should additional changes become necessary, AMS will submit them to OMB for approval. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/ rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. After consideration of all relevant matter presented, including the VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Nov 25, 2019 Jkt 250001 information and recommendation submitted by the Board and other available information, it is hereby found that this rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act. 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 amended as follows: reported by the inspection agency on Form ABC 8 and the weight of the lot reported on the public weighmaster weight certificate exceeds 2.0 percent. * * * * * Dated: November 21, 2019. Bruce Summers, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2019–25661 Filed 11–25–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PART 981—ALMONDS GROWN IN CALIFORNIA Agricultural Marketing Service 1. The authority citation for part 981 continues to read as follows: 7 CFR Part 993 ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 64969 [Doc. No. AMS–SC–19–0056; SC19–993–1 FR] 2. In § 981.442, revise paragraph (a)(7) to read as follows: Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate § 981.442 AGENCY: ■ Quality control. (a) * * * (7) Accepted Users. An accepted user’s eligibility shall be subject to the following criteria: (i) Annual completion of an application with the Board for accepted user status; (ii) Annual submission of a business data sheet to the Board; (iii) Annual submission of an Accepted User Plan (Form ABC 30) to the Board by July 31 of each year; (iv) The accurate and prompt submission of Form ABC 8, Part B, to the Board for each lot of almonds received. Each lot of inedible almonds received must be documented by a public weighmaster weight certificate issued at the request of the accepted user at the time of receipt of the lot. Weighmaster weight certificates must be submitted to the Board within 10 business days of issuance; (v) Disposal of inedible almond material within 6 months of receipt; and (vi) Disposal of inedible almond material received with no transfer of the material between accepted users. (vii) The Board may deny or revoke accepted user status at any time if the applicant or accepted user fails to meet the terms and conditions of § 981.442, or if the applicant or accepted user fails to meet the terms and conditions set forth in the accepted user application (Form ABC 34). (viii) The eligibility of accepted users shall be reviewed annually by the Board. Handlers will not receive credit towards their disposition obligations pursuant to paragraph (a)(4) of this section for inedible lots where the difference between the weight of the lot PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. This final rule implements a recommendation from the Prune Marketing Committee (Committee) to decrease the assessment rate established for the 2019–20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled under the Marketing Order 993. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Effective December 26, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Stobbe, Marketing Specialist, or Terry Vawter, Regional Director, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 538– 1674, Fax: (559) 487–5906, or Email: Maria.Stobbe@usda.gov or Terry.Vawter@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@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, amends regulations issued to carry out a marketing order as defined in 7 CFR 900.2(j). This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement and Order No. 993, as amended (7 CFR part 993), regulating the handling of dried prunes SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\26NOR1.SGM 26NOR1 64970 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 228 / Tuesday, November 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations produced in California. Part 993 (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 Order and is comprised of producers and handlers of dried prunes operating within the production area, and a public member. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this 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 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 rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Under the provisions of the Order now in effect, California dried prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the Order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rate will be applicable to all assessable dried prunes beginning on August 1, 2019, and continue until amended, suspended, or terminated. The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. Such handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA’s ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling. The Order authorizes the Committee, with the approval of USDA, to formulate an annual budget of expenses and collect assessments from handlers to administer the program. The members are familiar with the Committee’s needs VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Nov 25, 2019 Jkt 250001 and with costs of goods and services in their local area and are thus in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in a public meeting where all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input. This final rule decreases the assessment rate from $0.28, the rate that was established for the 2013–14 and subsequent crop years, to $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled for the 2019–20 and subsequent crop years. The Committee met on June 20, 2019, and unanimously recommended 2019– 20 crop year expenditures of $24,500 and an assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes. In comparison, last year’s budgeted expenditures were $20,470. The assessment rate of $0.25 is $0.03 lower than the rate currently in effect. The Committee recommended decreasing the assessment rate to reflect an anticipated larger crop size, which is expected to result in assessment revenue being greater than their anticipated expenses. Of the total $24,500 budgeted for the 2019–20 crop year, major expenditures recommended by the Committee include $13,300 for personnel, and $11,200 for operating expenses. In comparison, budgeted expenses for these items in 2018–19 were $10,490, and $9,980, respectively. The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by considering anticipated expenses and expected shipments of 110,000 tons of salable dried prunes. Income derived from handler assessments is estimated to be $27,500 (110,000 × $0.25), along with interest income, should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of $24,500. The assessment rate established in this final rule would continue in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other available information. Although this assessment rate will be effective for an indefinite period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA will evaluate Committee recommendations and other available information to determine whether PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will be undertaken as necessary. The Committee’s 2019–20 crop year budget and those for subsequent crop years would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by USDA. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601–612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this proposed rule on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final regulatory flexibility analysis. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued pursuant to the Act, and 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 800 producers of dried prunes in the production area and 20 handlers subject to regulation under the Order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts less than $1,000,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $30,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201). According to Committee data, the average price for California dried prunes during the 2017–18 season was approximately $1,980 per ton with a total production of 105,000 tons. Using the average price and shipment information, the number of handlers (20), and assuming a normal distribution, the majority of handlers would have average annual receipts of greater than $30,000,000. Thus, the majority of California dried prune handlers may be classified as large business entities. In addition, and assuming a normal distribution, dividing the average prune crop value for 2017 reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of $206,084,000, by the number of producers (800) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of about $257,605. Based on the foregoing, the majority of producers of California dried prunes may be classified as small entities. This final rule decreases the assessment rate collected from handlers for the 2019–20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to $0.25 per ton of salable California dried prunes. The E:\FR\FM\26NOR1.SGM 26NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 228 / Tuesday, November 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Committee unanimously recommended 2019–20 expenditures of $24,500 and an assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled. The assessment rate of $0.25 is $0.03 lower than the rate currently in effect. The quantity of assessable dried prunes for the 2019–20 crop year is estimated at 110,000 tons. Thus, the $0.25 rate should provide $27,500 in assessment income (110,000 × $0.25). Income derived from handler assessments, along with interest income, would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019–20 crop year include $13,300 for personnel, and $11,200 for operating expenses. In comparison, budgeted expenses for these items in 2018–19 were $10,490, and $9,980, respectively. The Committee recommended decreasing the assessment rate given the increase in crop size and the associated revenue would be sufficient to fund their proposed 2019–20 crop year expenses. Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee considered information from various sources, such as the Committee’s Executive Committee and NASS. Alternative expenditure levels were discussed by the Executive Committee, who reviewed the relative value of various activities to the prune industry. This committee determined that all program activities were adequately funded and; thus, no alternate expenditure levels were deemed appropriate. Additionally, maintaining the current assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of salable dried prunes was discussed. However, sufficient funds would be generated at the larger crop size ($27,500), even if assessed at the lower assessment rate. The rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes may exceed their anticipated expenses by $3,000, thereby providing a contingency funds for unexpected expenses. Based on these discussions and estimated shipments, the assessment rate of $0.25 should provide $27,500 in assessment income. The Committee determined that assessment revenue, and interest income, should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses for the 2019–20 crop year. A review of historical information and preliminary information pertaining to the upcoming crop year indicates that the average grower price for the 2019– 20 crop year should be approximately $2,000 per ton of salable dried prunes. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2019–20 crop year as a percentage of total grower revenue would be about 0.01 percent. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Nov 25, 2019 Jkt 250001 This final rule decreases 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 reduces the burden on handlers and may also reduce the burden on producers. The Committee’s meeting was widely publicized throughout the California prune industry. All interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 20, 2019, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the Order’s information collection requirements have been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB No. 0581–0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. No changes in those requirements as a result of this action are necessary. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval. This final rule imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large California prune handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. As noted in the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this final rule. AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes. A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2019 (84 FR 49963). Copies of the proposed rule were provided to the California prune handlers. Finally, the proposal was made available through the internet by USDA and the Office of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending on October 24, 2019, was provided for interested persons to respond to this proposal. No comments were received; and, thus, no changes were made to the proposed rule. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64971 be viewed at: http://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. After consideration of all relevant material, including information and recommendation submitted by the Committee and other available information, it is hereby found that this final rule will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the act. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993 Marketing agreements, Plum, Prunes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is amended as follows: PART 993—DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 993.347 Assessment rate. On and after August 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes. Dated: November 21, 2019. Bruce Summers, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2019–25660 Filed 11–25–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Foreign Agricultural Service 7 CFR Part 1599 RIN 0551–AA93 McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule with request for comments. AGENCY: The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is revising the regulations governing the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) Program to add provisions related to the local and regional procurement of commodities under the program, and to SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\26NOR1.SGM 26NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 228 (Tuesday, November 26, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64969-64971]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-25660]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 993

[Doc. No. AMS-SC-19-0056; SC19-993-1 FR]


Dried Prunes Produced in California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This final rule implements a recommendation from the Prune 
Marketing Committee (Committee) to decrease the assessment rate 
established for the 2019-20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to 
$0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled under the Marketing Order 
993. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless 
modified, suspended, or terminated.

DATES: Effective December 26, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Stobbe, Marketing Specialist, or 
Terry Vawter, Regional Director, California Marketing Field Office, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, 
USDA; Telephone: (559) 538-1674, 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, 
amends regulations issued to carry out a marketing order as defined in 
7 CFR 900.2(j). This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement and Order 
No. 993, as amended (7 CFR part 993), regulating the handling of dried 
prunes

[[Page 64970]]

produced in California. Part 993 (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 Order and is comprised of producers 
and handlers of dried prunes operating within the production area, and 
a public member.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this 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 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 rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the provisions of the Order now in effect, 
California dried prune handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to 
administer the Order are derived from such assessments. It is intended 
that the assessment rate will be applicable to all assessable dried 
prunes beginning on August 1, 2019, and continue until amended, 
suspended, or terminated.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the 
Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition 
stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation 
imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and 
request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. Such 
handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. 
After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides 
that the district court of the United States in any district in which 
the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of 
business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    The Order authorizes the Committee, with the approval of USDA, to 
formulate an annual budget of expenses and collect assessments from 
handlers to administer the program. The members are familiar with the 
Committee's needs and with costs of goods and services in their local 
area and are thus in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and 
assessment rate. The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in a 
public meeting where all directly affected persons have an opportunity 
to participate and provide input.
    This final rule decreases the assessment rate from $0.28, the rate 
that was established for the 2013-14 and subsequent crop years, to 
$0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled for the 2019-20 and 
subsequent crop years.
    The Committee met on June 20, 2019, and unanimously recommended 
2019-20 crop year expenditures of $24,500 and an assessment rate of 
$0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes. In comparison, last year's 
budgeted expenditures were $20,470. The assessment rate of $0.25 is 
$0.03 lower than the rate currently in effect. The Committee 
recommended decreasing the assessment rate to reflect an anticipated 
larger crop size, which is expected to result in assessment revenue 
being greater than their anticipated expenses.
    Of the total $24,500 budgeted for the 2019-20 crop year, major 
expenditures recommended by the Committee include $13,300 for 
personnel, and $11,200 for operating expenses. In comparison, budgeted 
expenses for these items in 2018-19 were $10,490, and $9,980, 
respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
considering anticipated expenses and expected shipments of 110,000 tons 
of salable dried prunes. Income derived from handler assessments is 
estimated to be $27,500 (110,000 x $0.25), along with interest income, 
should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of $24,500.
    The assessment rate established in this final rule would continue 
in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by 
USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or 
other available information.
    Although this assessment rate will be effective for an indefinite 
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
crop year to recommend a budget of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and 
times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. 
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may 
express their views at these meetings. USDA will evaluate Committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will 
be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's 2019-20 crop year budget 
and those for subsequent crop years would be reviewed and, as 
appropriate, approved by USDA.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 
has considered the economic impact of this proposed rule on small 
entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final regulatory 
flexibility analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will 
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued 
pursuant to the Act, and 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 800 producers of dried prunes in the 
production area and 20 handlers subject to regulation under the Order. 
Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts less than 
$1,000,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those 
whose annual receipts are less than $30,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to Committee data, the average price for California dried 
prunes during the 2017-18 season was approximately $1,980 per ton with 
a total production of 105,000 tons. Using the average price and 
shipment information, the number of handlers (20), and assuming a 
normal distribution, the majority of handlers would have average annual 
receipts of greater than $30,000,000. Thus, the majority of California 
dried prune handlers may be classified as large business entities.
    In addition, and assuming a normal distribution, dividing the 
average prune crop value for 2017 reported by the National Agricultural 
Statistics Service (NASS) of $206,084,000, by the number of producers 
(800) yields an average annual producer revenue estimate of about 
$257,605. Based on the foregoing, the majority of producers of 
California dried prunes may be classified as small entities.
    This final rule decreases the assessment rate collected from 
handlers for the 2019-20 and subsequent crop years from $0.28 to $0.25 
per ton of salable California dried prunes. The

[[Page 64971]]

Committee unanimously recommended 2019-20 expenditures of $24,500 and 
an assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried prunes handled. 
The assessment rate of $0.25 is $0.03 lower than the rate currently in 
effect. The quantity of assessable dried prunes for the 2019-20 crop 
year is estimated at 110,000 tons. Thus, the $0.25 rate should provide 
$27,500 in assessment income (110,000 x $0.25). Income derived from 
handler assessments, along with interest income, would be adequate to 
cover budgeted expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-20 
crop year include $13,300 for personnel, and $11,200 for operating 
expenses. In comparison, budgeted expenses for these items in 2018-19 
were $10,490, and $9,980, respectively.
    The Committee recommended decreasing the assessment rate given the 
increase in crop size and the associated revenue would be sufficient to 
fund their proposed 2019-20 crop year expenses.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee 
considered information from various sources, such as the Committee's 
Executive Committee and NASS. Alternative expenditure levels were 
discussed by the Executive Committee, who reviewed the relative value 
of various activities to the prune industry. This committee determined 
that all program activities were adequately funded and; thus, no 
alternate expenditure levels were deemed appropriate. Additionally, 
maintaining the current assessment rate of $0.28 per ton of salable 
dried prunes was discussed. However, sufficient funds would be 
generated at the larger crop size ($27,500), even if assessed at the 
lower assessment rate. The rate of $0.25 per ton of salable dried 
prunes may exceed their anticipated expenses by $3,000, thereby 
providing a contingency funds for unexpected expenses.
    Based on these discussions and estimated shipments, the assessment 
rate of $0.25 should provide $27,500 in assessment income. The 
Committee determined that assessment revenue, and interest income, 
should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses for the 2019-20 crop 
year.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information 
pertaining to the upcoming crop year indicates that the average grower 
price for the 2019-20 crop year should be approximately $2,000 per ton 
of salable dried prunes. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue 
for the 2019-20 crop year as a percentage of total grower revenue would 
be about 0.01 percent.
    This final rule decreases 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 reduces the burden on handlers and may also reduce the 
burden on producers.
    The Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout the 
California prune industry. All interested persons were invited to 
attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all 
issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 20, 2019, meeting was a 
public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to 
express views on this issue.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35), the Order's information collection requirements have been 
previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
assigned OMB No. 0581-0178, Vegetable and Specialty Crops. No changes 
in those requirements as a result of this action are necessary. Should 
any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for 
approval.
    This final rule imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large California prune handlers. As 
with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are 
periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and 
duplication by industry and public sector agencies. As noted in the 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis, USDA has not identified any 
relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this 
final rule.
    AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote 
the use of the internet and other information technologies to provide 
increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information 
and services, and for other purposes.
    A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal 
Register on September 24, 2019 (84 FR 49963). Copies of the proposed 
rule were provided to the California prune handlers. Finally, the 
proposal was made available through the internet by USDA and the Office 
of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending on October 24, 
2019, was provided for interested persons to respond to this proposal. 
No comments were received; and, thus, no changes were made to the 
proposed rule.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the 
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section.
    After consideration of all relevant material, including information 
and recommendation submitted by the Committee and other available 
information, it is hereby found that this final rule will tend to 
effectuate the declared policy of the act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 993

    Marketing agreements, Plum, Prunes, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 993 is 
amended as follows:

PART 993--DRIED PRUNES PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 993 continues to read as 
follows:

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


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2. Section 993.347 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  993.347  Assessment rate.

    On and after August 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $0.25 per ton of 
salable dried prunes is established for California dried prunes.

    Dated: November 21, 2019.
Bruce Summers,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-25660 Filed 11-25-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P