Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Sweet Cherries Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Decreased Assessment Rate, 65262-65265 [2019-25650]

Download as PDF 65262 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 229 / Wednesday, November 27, 2019 / Rules and Regulations v. In paragraph (c)(1)(iii), remove the phrase ‘‘section 11(d)’’ and add ‘‘section 12(d)’’ in its place; ■ vi. In paragraph (d) introductory text, remove the phrase ‘‘11(e).’’ and add ‘‘12(e).’’ in its place; ■ vii. In paragraph (d)(4), remove the phrase ‘‘sections 11(d)(2) and (3)’’ and add ‘‘sections 12(d)(2) and (3)’’ in its place; ■ viii. In paragraph (e)(2), remove the phrase ‘‘7(b)’’ and add ‘‘8(b)’’ in its place. The revision and additions read as follows: ■ § 457.113 Coarse grains crop insurance provisions. The Coarse Grains Crop Insurance Provisions for the 2020 and succeeding crop years are as follows: * * * * * 1. Definitions. * * * * * Following another crop (FAC). A cropping practice, as defined in the Special Provisions, in which a crop is planted following another crop. * * * * * Not following another crop (NFAC). A cropping practice, as defined in the Special Provisions, in which a crop is planted not following a crop. * * * * * 2. Unit Division. (a) In addition to the requirements of section 34(a) of the Basic Provisions, you may elect separate enterprise units for FAC or NFAC cropping practices if these cropping practices are allowed by the actuarial documents. If you elect enterprise units for these cropping practices, you may not elect enterprise or optional units by irrigation practices. (1) You may elect one enterprise unit for all FAC cropping practices, all NFAC cropping practices, or separate enterprise units for both, unless otherwise specified in the Special Provisions. For example: You may choose an enterprise unit for all FAC acreage (soybeans irrigated practice and non-irrigated practice) and an enterprise unit for all NFAC acreage (soybeans irrigated practice and non-irrigated practice). (2) You are only eligible if both FAC and NFAC cropping practices are allowed by the actuarial documents for each irrigation practice you use. If FAC and NFAC cropping practices are only allowed for the non-irrigated practice, separate enterprise units for FAC and NFAC cropping practices are not available if you use the irrigated practice; but if you use only nonirrigated FAC and NFAC cropping practices, separate enterprise units for VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:24 Nov 26, 2019 Jkt 250001 non-irrigated FAC and NFAC cropping practices are available. (3) You must separately meet the requirements in section 34(a)(4) for each enterprise unit. (4) If you elected separate enterprise units for both cropping practices and we discover you do not qualify for an enterprise unit for one or the other cropping practice and such discovery is made: (i) On or before the acreage reporting date, you may elect to insure all acreage of the crop in the county in one enterprise unit provided you meet the requirements in section 34(a)(4), or your unit division will be based on basic or optional units, whichever you report on your acreage report and qualify for; or (ii) At any time after the acreage reporting date, your unit structure will be one enterprise unit provided you meet the requirements in section 34(a)(4). Otherwise, we will assign the basic unit structure. (5) If you elected an enterprise unit on one cropping practice for FAC or NFAC and a different unit structure on the other cropping practice and we discover you do not qualify for an enterprise unit for the FAC or NFAC cropping practice and such discovery is made: (i) On or before the acreage reporting date, your unit division will be based on basic or optional units, whichever you report on your acreage report and qualify for; or (ii) At any time after the acreage reporting date, we will assign the basic unit structure. (b) Instead of establishing optional units as provided in section 34(c) of the Basic Provisions, if allowed by the actuarial documents, you may have separate optional units for the FAC cropping practice and the NFAC cropping practice. These optional units will be by section, section equivalent, or FSA FN and by the FAC cropping practice and the NFAC cropping practice. These optional units cannot be further divided by irrigated and nonirrigated acreage or by acreage insured under an organic farming practice. (c) If FAC or NFAC cropping practices are only available by written agreement, separate enterprise units or optional units for FAC or NFAC cropping practices are not available. * * * * * Martin Barbre, Manager, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. [FR Doc. 2019–25862 Filed 11–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–08–P PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 923 [Doc. No. AMS–SC–19–0049; SC19–923–1 FR] Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Sweet Cherries Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Decreased Assessment Rate Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule implements a recommendation from the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee (Committee) to decrease the assessment rate established for the 2019–2020 and subsequent fiscal periods. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated. DATES: Effective December 27, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dale Novotny, Marketing Specialist, or Gary Olson, Regional Director, Northwest Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (503) 326–2724, Fax: (503) 326–7440, or Email: dalej.novotny@ usda.gov or GaryD.Olson@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 final rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 923, as amended (7 CFR part 923), regulating the handling of sweet cherries grown in designated counties of Washington. Part 923 (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 sweet cherry growers and handlers operating within the area of production. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Orders 13563 and 13175. This final rule falls within a category of regulatory actions SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 229 / Wednesday, November 27, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 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 Order now in effect, Washington sweet cherry handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the marketing order are derived from such assessments. The assessment rate will be applicable to all assessable Washington sweet cherries for the 2019–2020 fiscal period, 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 a marketing order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the marketing order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the marketing order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the marketing 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. Committee members are familiar with the Committee’s needs and with the costs of goods and services in their local area and can 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 $0.25 to $0.20 per ton of Washington sweet cherries handled for the 2019–2020 and subsequent fiscal periods. The lower VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:24 Nov 26, 2019 Jkt 250001 rate is necessary to fund the Committee’s 2019–2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures while maintaining the Committee’s financial reserve fund at an amount not exceeding approximately one fiscal period’s operational expenses. Based on input received from growers at an annual meeting, the 2019 crop of Washington sweet cherries is expected to be similar in volume compared to the 2018 crop. The Committee believes that decreasing the continuing assessment rate will allow the Committee to fully fund its 2019–2020 budgeted expenses and maintain its financial reserve within the limits established in the Order. The Committee held a well-publicized meeting May 8, 2019, where all interested parties were encouraged to participate in the discussions. However, the Order’s quorum requirement was not met, and the Committee was not able to conduct official business. The following day, the Committee conducted the vote by email and, with a vote of 15–1, recommended 2019– 2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures of $56,250 and an assessment rate of $0.20 per ton of sweet cherries handled. In comparison, last year’s budgeted expenditures were $55,750. The assessment rate of $0.20 is $0.05 lower than the $0.25 per ton rate currently in effect. The Committee recommended the assessment rate decrease because of a normal size crop estimate and a financial reserve fund balance that was higher than the Committee believes is responsible. At the recommended assessment rate and budgeted expenditures, the Committee expects its financial reserve to be $55,093 at the end of the 2019–2020 fiscal period, which would be within the limits set in the Order. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019–2020 fiscal period include $25,000 for program management contract services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $7,250 for administrative expenses, $7,000 for regulation proceedings, $5,000 for data management, $5,000 for research, $4,000 for an annual audit, and $3,000 for travel. In comparison, these major expense categories budgeted for the 2018–2019 fiscal period were $25,000, $6,950, $7,000, $5,000, $5,000, $3,800, and $3,000, respectively. The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by considering anticipated expenses, expected sweet cherry sales, and the amount of funds available in the authorized reserve. Expected income derived from handler assessments of $40,000 (200,000 tons of sweet cherries PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 65263 at $0.20 per ton), plus $5 interest income and $16,245 from the reserve would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of $56,250. Funds from the reserve (estimated to be $71,338 at the beginning of the 2019–2020 fiscal period) will be used to supply part of the Committee’s 2019–2020 expenses in an effort to keep the reserve within the maximum permitted by § 923.142(a). The assessment rate established in this rule will continue in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other available information. Although this assessment rate will be in effect for an indefinite period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each fiscal period to recommend a budget of expenses and consider recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate Committee recommendations and other available information to determine whether modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking would be undertaken as necessary. The Committee’s budget for subsequent fiscal periods would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by USDA. Final Regulatory Flexibility Act 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 final 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 are unique in that they are brought about through group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf. There are approximately 1,450 growers and 37 handlers of sweet cherries in the regulated production area 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 $30,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1 65264 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 229 / Wednesday, November 27, 2019 / Rules and Regulations of less than $1,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201). According to data from USDA Market News, the 2018 season average f.o.b. price for Washington sweet cherries was approximately $35.14 per 15-pound carton. The Committee reported that the industry shipped 3,964 tons for the season, which equals approximately 27,394,133 cartons (204,456 tons at a net weight of 15 pounds per carton). Using the number of handlers, and assuming a normal distribution, most handlers would have average annual receipts of more than $30,000,000 ($35.14 times 27,394,133 cartons equals $962,629,845 divided by 37 handlers equals $26,017,022 per handler). In addition, based on USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data, the weighted average grower price for the 2018 season was $1,900 per ton of sweet cherries. Based on grower price, shipment data, and the total number of Washington sweet cherry growers, and assuming a normal distribution, the average annual grower revenue is below $1,000,000 ($1,900 times 205,456 tons equals $390,366,400 divided by 1,450 growers equals $269,218 per grower). Thus, most growers of Washington sweet cherries may be classified as small entities, but most of their handlers may be classified as large entities. This final rule decreases the assessment rate collected from handlers for the 2019–2020 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.25 to $0.20 per ton of Washington sweet cherries handled. The Committee recommended 2019– 2020 fiscal period expenditures of $56,250 and the $0.20 per ton assessment rate with an affirmative vote of 15–1. The one dissenting voter gave no reason for their opposition. The assessment rate of $0.20 is $0.05 lower than the rate for the 2018–2019 fiscal period. The Committee estimates that the industry will handle 200,000 tons of fresh, Washington sweet cherries during the 2019–2020 fiscal period. Thus, the $0.20 per ton rate should provide $40,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler assessments, along with $5 interest income and $16,245 from the reserve, will cover all budgeted expenses. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019–2020 fiscal period include $25,000 for program management contract services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $7,250 for administrative expenses, $7,000 for regulation proceedings, $5,000 for data management, $5,000 for research, $4,000 for an annual audit, and $3,000 for travel. In comparison, these major VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:24 Nov 26, 2019 Jkt 250001 expense categories budgeted for the 2018–2019 fiscal period were $25,000, $6,950, $7,000, $5,000, $5,000, $3,800, and $3,000, respectively. The lower assessment rate will cover most of the Committee’s 2019–2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures, with the remaining balance to come from the financial reserve. Decreasing the continuing assessment rate and using some funds from the reserve will allow the Committee to fully fund budgeted expenses and bring its financial reserve to a level that is compliant with the Order. Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee considered maintaining the current assessment rate of $0.25 per ton. However, after grower input and discussions at the May 8, 2019, meeting, the Committee projected the 2019 crop to be similar in volume to the previous year. This amount of production at the current assessment level of $0.25 per ton would generate enough assessment income to fund the Committee’s operations for the 2019–2020 fiscal period, but its financial reserve would be too high and not in compliance with the Order. Based on estimated shipments, the recommended assessment rate of $0.20 per ton of sweet cherries should provide $40,000 in assessment income. The Committee determined assessment revenue will be adequate to cover most of its budgeted expenditures for the 2019–2020 fiscal period, with the remaining balance coming from its financial reserve. Reserve funds will be kept within the amount authorized in the Order. A review of historical data and preliminary information pertaining to the upcoming fiscal period indicates that the average grower price range for the 2019–2020 season should be approximately $1,598–$3,081 per ton of Washington sweet cherries. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2019–2020 fiscal period as a percentage of total grower revenue would be between 0.007 and 0.013 percent. The Committee’s meetings are widely publicized throughout the Washington sweet cherry industry. All interested persons are invited to attend the meetings and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the May 8, 2019, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue. Interested persons were invited to submit comments on this rule, including the regulatory and information collection impacts of this action on small businesses. PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 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 OMB and assigned OMB No. 0581–0189, Fruit Crops. No changes in those requirements will be necessary because of this action. Should any changes become necessary, they will be submitted to OMB for approval. This final rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Washington sweet cherry 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 final 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 23, 2019 (84 PR 49682). Copies of the proposed rule were provided to all Washington sweet cherry handlers. The proposal was also made available through the internet by USDA and the Office of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending October 23, 2019, was provided for interested persons to respond to the proposal. No comments were received. Accordingly, no changes will be made to the rule as proposed. A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/ rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. After consideration of all relevant material presented, including the information and recommendation submitted by the Committee and other available information, it is hereby found that this rule will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 923 Marketing agreements, Fruits, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Cherries. E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 229 / Wednesday, November 27, 2019 / Rules and Regulations For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 923 is amended as follows: Program Development; Telephone: (202) 720–0089. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PART 923—MARKETING ORDER REGULATING THE HANDLING OF SWEET CHERRIES GROWN IN DESIGNATED COUNTIES IN WASHINGTON Background On April 12, 2019, FSIS proposed to amend its regulations to remove lists of foreign countries eligible to export meat, poultry, or processed egg products to the United States and, instead, maintain such lists on its website (84 FR 14894). The proposal noted that it did not include any changes to the criteria FSIS uses to evaluate whether a foreign country is eligible. The proposal also described how removing the lists from the regulations would affect FSIS’s process for implementing equivalence determinations. Instead of publishing proposed and final rules in the Federal Register, FSIS will now implement equivalence determinations through Federal Register notices with requests for public comment. FSIS will respond to public comments in any Federal Register notice that finalizes an equivalence determination. FSIS will also use this process when it is necessary to terminate the eligibility of a foreign country. This final rule will allow FSIS to convey more clearly information on countries’ equivalence status. Once the rule is in place, the list posted on the website will not conflict with any outdated information in the Federal Register. In addition to removing the lists from the regulations, the Agency proposed to amend six parts of 9 CFR Chapter III (310, 327, 381, 424, 557, 590) to remove references to the lists. After reviewing comments on the proposed rule, FSIS is finalizing it without changes, except for nonsubstantive changes, for clarity, to the regulatory language proposed for 9 CFR 327.2(b). Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. ■ 2. Revise 923.236 to read as follows: § 923.263 Assessment rate. On and after April 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $0.20 per ton is established for the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee. Dated: November 21, 2019. Bruce Summers, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2019–25650 Filed 11–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service 9 CFR Parts 310, 327, 381, 424, 557, and 590 [Docket No. FSIS–2018–0027] RIN 0583–AD72 Publication Method for Lists of Foreign Countries Eligible To Export Meat, Poultry, or Egg Products to the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is amending its regulations to remove lists of foreign countries eligible to export meat, poultry, and egg products to the United States. FSIS will maintain a single list of eligible foreign countries on its website. The criteria FSIS uses to evaluate whether a foreign country is eligible to export meat, poultry, or egg products has not changed. This rule will allow FSIS to more efficiently and clearly communicate equivalence determinations by maintaining a single list of exporting countries on its website, rather than maintaining one list on the website and outdated lists in the codified regulations. In addition, the Agency is amending it regulations to remove references to the lists. DATES: Effective December 27, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Terri Nintemann, Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy and SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:36 Nov 26, 2019 Jkt 250001 Responses to Comments FSIS received 15 comments, from 13 individuals, an industry association representing egg processors, and a consumer advocacy organization. The issues raised in the comments and the Agency responses are summarized below. Comments: FSIS received comments relating to the use of online lists. One individual questioned the use of online lists as potentially confusing or difficult to locate by stakeholders. Another recommended that FSIS ensure that the online lists are updated soon after determinations are finalized. The consumer advocacy organization believed that keeping equivalence determinations on FSIS’s website could invite hacking or mistakes and expressed concern that some PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 65265 individuals do not have access to the internet. Response: FSIS does not believe these concerns warrant reconsideration of the use of online lists. This rule’s amendments to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) direct readers to the web address where FSIS maintains the list, www.fsis.usda.gov/importlibrary. FSIS will additionally publish notice of equivalence determinations in the Federal Register and include links to these determinations in its Constituent Update, which is posted weekly on FSIS’s website. FSIS will ensure that its web content managers update the online lists shortly after any final determination is published in the Federal Register. FSIS’s website is protected to ensure that only authorized users may gain access or make changes. The system keeps track of past versions, which may be restored if needed. Therefore, no hacking event could permanently alter the entries on the lists. Comments: The industry group supported the proposed rule, but urged FSIS not to weaken its equivalence standards, reduce opportunities for public participation, or make any currently public aspects of the equivalence process non-public. It also urged FSIS to be more transparent in its investigations, audits, and determinations and ensure that the offices of the Under Secretary for Food Safety and the Secretary of Agriculture provide oversight for equivalence determinations. The consumer advocacy organization opposed the proposed rule as undermining the importance of equivalence determinations. Response: Under this final rule, FSIS is not changing its equivalence standards or opportunities for public comment. FSIS will continue to maintain the same level of transparency in these determinations by publishing its on-site audit reports and allowing for public comment on preliminary equivalence determinations. The offices of the Under Secretary for Food Safety and the Secretary of Agriculture currently review every preliminary and final equivalence determination made by FSIS and will continue to do so under this final rule. Comments: The industry group also recommended that FSIS create specific regulatory requirements establishing a comment period for Federal Register notices of equivalence determinations and a provision mandating that the Agency will respond to comments in the Federal Register. The consumer advocacy organization advocated for a 60-day comment period for all E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 229 (Wednesday, November 27, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 65262-65265]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-25650]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 923

[Doc. No. AMS-SC-19-0049; SC19-923-1 FR]


Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Sweet Cherries Grown 
in Designated Counties in Washington; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule implements a recommendation from the 
Washington Cherry Marketing Committee (Committee) to decrease the 
assessment rate established for the 2019-2020 and subsequent fiscal 
periods. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless 
modified, suspended, or terminated.

DATES: Effective December 27, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dale Novotny, Marketing Specialist, or 
Gary Olson, Regional Director, Northwest Marketing Field Office, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, 
USDA; Telephone: (503) 326-2724, Fax: (503) 326-7440, 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 final rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 
923, as amended (7 CFR part 923), regulating the handling of sweet 
cherries grown in designated counties of Washington. Part 923 (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 sweet cherry growers and handlers operating within 
the area of production.
    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Orders 13563 and 13175. This final rule 
falls within a category of regulatory actions

[[Page 65263]]

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'[thinsp]'' (February 2, 2017).
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the Order now in effect, Washington sweet cherry 
handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the marketing 
order are derived from such assessments. The assessment rate will be 
applicable to all assessable Washington sweet cherries for the 2019-
2020 fiscal period, 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 a marketing order may file with USDA a 
petition stating that the order, any provision of the marketing order, 
or any obligation imposed in connection with the marketing order is not 
in accordance with law and request a modification of the marketing 
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. Committee members are familiar with 
the Committee's needs and with the costs of goods and services in their 
local area and can 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 $0.25 to $0.20 
per ton of Washington sweet cherries handled for the 2019-2020 and 
subsequent fiscal periods. The lower rate is necessary to fund the 
Committee's 2019-2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures while 
maintaining the Committee's financial reserve fund at an amount not 
exceeding approximately one fiscal period's operational expenses. Based 
on input received from growers at an annual meeting, the 2019 crop of 
Washington sweet cherries is expected to be similar in volume compared 
to the 2018 crop. The Committee believes that decreasing the continuing 
assessment rate will allow the Committee to fully fund its 2019-2020 
budgeted expenses and maintain its financial reserve within the limits 
established in the Order.
    The Committee held a well-publicized meeting May 8, 2019, where all 
interested parties were encouraged to participate in the discussions. 
However, the Order's quorum requirement was not met, and the Committee 
was not able to conduct official business. The following day, the 
Committee conducted the vote by email and, with a vote of 15-1, 
recommended 2019-2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures of $56,250 
and an assessment rate of $0.20 per ton of sweet cherries handled. In 
comparison, last year's budgeted expenditures were $55,750. The 
assessment rate of $0.20 is $0.05 lower than the $0.25 per ton rate 
currently in effect. The Committee recommended the assessment rate 
decrease because of a normal size crop estimate and a financial reserve 
fund balance that was higher than the Committee believes is 
responsible. At the recommended assessment rate and budgeted 
expenditures, the Committee expects its financial reserve to be $55,093 
at the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal period, which would be within the 
limits set in the Order.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-
2020 fiscal period include $25,000 for program management contract 
services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $7,250 for 
administrative expenses, $7,000 for regulation proceedings, $5,000 for 
data management, $5,000 for research, $4,000 for an annual audit, and 
$3,000 for travel. In comparison, these major expense categories 
budgeted for the 2018-2019 fiscal period were $25,000, $6,950, $7,000, 
$5,000, $5,000, $3,800, and $3,000, respectively.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
considering anticipated expenses, expected sweet cherry sales, and the 
amount of funds available in the authorized reserve. Expected income 
derived from handler assessments of $40,000 (200,000 tons of sweet 
cherries at $0.20 per ton), plus $5 interest income and $16,245 from 
the reserve would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of $56,250. 
Funds from the reserve (estimated to be $71,338 at the beginning of the 
2019-2020 fiscal period) will be used to supply part of the Committee's 
2019-2020 expenses in an effort to keep the reserve within the maximum 
permitted by Sec.  923.142(a).
    The assessment rate established in this rule will continue in 
effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA 
upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other 
available information.
    Although this assessment rate will be in effect for an indefinite 
period, the Committee will continue to meet prior to or during each 
fiscal period to recommend a budget of expenses and consider 
recommendations for modification of the assessment rate. The dates and 
times of Committee meetings are available from the Committee or USDA. 
Committee meetings are open to the public and interested persons may 
express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate Committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking would 
be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's budget for subsequent 
fiscal periods would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by USDA.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Act

    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 final 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 are unique in that they are brought about through 
group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf.
    There are approximately 1,450 growers and 37 handlers of sweet 
cherries in the regulated production area 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 $30,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those 
having annual receipts

[[Page 65264]]

of less than $1,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to data from USDA Market News, the 2018 season average 
f.o.b. price for Washington sweet cherries was approximately $35.14 per 
15-pound carton. The Committee reported that the industry shipped 3,964 
tons for the season, which equals approximately 27,394,133 cartons 
(204,456 tons at a net weight of 15 pounds per carton). Using the 
number of handlers, and assuming a normal distribution, most handlers 
would have average annual receipts of more than $30,000,000 ($35.14 
times 27,394,133 cartons equals $962,629,845 divided by 37 handlers 
equals $26,017,022 per handler).
    In addition, based on USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 
data, the weighted average grower price for the 2018 season was $1,900 
per ton of sweet cherries. Based on grower price, shipment data, and 
the total number of Washington sweet cherry growers, and assuming a 
normal distribution, the average annual grower revenue is below 
$1,000,000 ($1,900 times 205,456 tons equals $390,366,400 divided by 
1,450 growers equals $269,218 per grower). Thus, most growers of 
Washington sweet cherries may be classified as small entities, but most 
of their handlers may be classified as large entities.
    This final rule decreases the assessment rate collected from 
handlers for the 2019-2020 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.25 to 
$0.20 per ton of Washington sweet cherries handled. The Committee 
recommended 2019-2020 fiscal period expenditures of $56,250 and the 
$0.20 per ton assessment rate with an affirmative vote of 15-1. The one 
dissenting voter gave no reason for their opposition. The assessment 
rate of $0.20 is $0.05 lower than the rate for the 2018-2019 fiscal 
period.
    The Committee estimates that the industry will handle 200,000 tons 
of fresh, Washington sweet cherries during the 2019-2020 fiscal period. 
Thus, the $0.20 per ton rate should provide $40,000 in assessment 
income. Income derived from handler assessments, along with $5 interest 
income and $16,245 from the reserve, will cover all budgeted expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-
2020 fiscal period include $25,000 for program management contract 
services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $7,250 for 
administrative expenses, $7,000 for regulation proceedings, $5,000 for 
data management, $5,000 for research, $4,000 for an annual audit, and 
$3,000 for travel. In comparison, these major expense categories 
budgeted for the 2018-2019 fiscal period were $25,000, $6,950, $7,000, 
$5,000, $5,000, $3,800, and $3,000, respectively.
    The lower assessment rate will cover most of the Committee's 2019-
2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures, with the remaining balance to 
come from the financial reserve. Decreasing the continuing assessment 
rate and using some funds from the reserve will allow the Committee to 
fully fund budgeted expenses and bring its financial reserve to a level 
that is compliant with the Order.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee 
considered maintaining the current assessment rate of $0.25 per ton. 
However, after grower input and discussions at the May 8, 2019, 
meeting, the Committee projected the 2019 crop to be similar in volume 
to the previous year. This amount of production at the current 
assessment level of $0.25 per ton would generate enough assessment 
income to fund the Committee's operations for the 2019-2020 fiscal 
period, but its financial reserve would be too high and not in 
compliance with the Order. Based on estimated shipments, the 
recommended assessment rate of $0.20 per ton of sweet cherries should 
provide $40,000 in assessment income. The Committee determined 
assessment revenue will be adequate to cover most of its budgeted 
expenditures for the 2019-2020 fiscal period, with the remaining 
balance coming from its financial reserve. Reserve funds will be kept 
within the amount authorized in the Order.
    A review of historical data and preliminary information pertaining 
to the upcoming fiscal period indicates that the average grower price 
range for the 2019-2020 season should be approximately $1,598-$3,081 
per ton of Washington sweet cherries. Therefore, the estimated 
assessment revenue for the 2019-2020 fiscal period as a percentage of 
total grower revenue would be between 0.007 and 0.013 percent.
    The Committee's meetings are widely publicized throughout the 
Washington sweet cherry industry. All interested persons are invited to 
attend the meetings and participate in Committee deliberations on all 
issues. Like all Committee meetings, the May 8, 2019, meeting was a 
public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to 
express views on this issue. Interested persons were invited to submit 
comments on this 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 the OMB and assigned OMB No. 0581-0189, Fruit 
Crops. No changes in those requirements will be necessary because of 
this action. Should any changes become necessary, they will be 
submitted to OMB for approval.
    This final rule will not impose any additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Washington sweet 
cherry 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 
final 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 23, 2019 (84 PR 49682). Copies of the proposed 
rule were provided to all Washington sweet cherry handlers. The 
proposal was also made available through the internet by USDA and the 
Office of the Federal Register. A 30-day comment period ending October 
23, 2019, was provided for interested persons to respond to the 
proposal. No comments were received. Accordingly, no changes will be 
made to the rule as proposed.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Richard Lower at the 
previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section.
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, including 
the information and recommendation submitted by the Committee and other 
available information, it is hereby found that this rule will tend to 
effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 923

    Marketing agreements, Fruits, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Cherries.


[[Page 65265]]


    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 923 is 
amended as follows:

PART 923--MARKETING ORDER REGULATING THE HANDLING OF SWEET CHERRIES 
GROWN IN DESIGNATED COUNTIES IN WASHINGTON

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


0
 2. Revise 923.236 to read as follows:


Sec.  923.263  Assessment rate.

    On and after April 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $0.20 per ton is 
established for the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee.

    Dated: November 21, 2019.
Bruce Summers,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-25650 Filed 11-26-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P