Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Apricots Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Increased Assessment Rate, 638-640 [2019-28056]

Download as PDF 638 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 4 / Tuesday, January 7, 2020 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 922 [Doc. No. AMS–SC–19–0048; SC19–922–1 FR] Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Apricots Grown in Designated Counties in Washington; Increased Assessment Rate Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule implements a recommendation from the Washington Apricot Marketing Committee (Committee) to increase 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 February 6, 2020. 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 rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 922, as amended (7 CFR part 922), regulating the handling of apricots grown in designated counties of Washington. Part 922 (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 apricot 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 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Jan 06, 2020 Jkt 250001 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 apricot handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the Order are derived from such assessments. The assessment rate will be applicable to all assessable Washington apricots 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 provides authority for 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 Committee discussed the assessment rate in a public meeting where all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input. This final rule increases the assessment rate from $1.00 to $2.86 per ton of Washington apricots handled for the 2019–2020 and subsequent fiscal periods. The higher rate is necessary to fund the Committee’s 2019–2020 fiscal PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 period budgeted expenditures. Based on input received from growers at an annual meeting, the 2019 crop of Washington apricots is expected to be unusually low because of the effects of late season frost on budding orchard trees. The Committee believes that increasing the assessment rate will allow the Committee to fully fund its 2019–2020 budgeted expenses. The Committee held a well-publicized meeting May 8, 2019, at which 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 voted by email and unanimously recommended 2019–2020 fiscal period expenditures of $8,325 and an assessment rate of $2.86 per ton of apricots handled. The 2019– 2020 fiscal period budgeted expenses are unchanged from the prior year. The assessment rate of $2.86 is $1.86 higher than the $1.00 per ton rate currently in effect. The Committee recommended the assessment rate increase due to the anticipated reduced production level in 2019 resulting from a late season frost that damaged the crop. The 2018 crop was also smaller than the Committee had anticipated by 2,036 tons, which resulted in the Committee using more funds from its financial reserve than expected. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019–2020 fiscal period include $4,000 for program management contract services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $2,600 for annual audit and legal expenses, $1,300 for Committee travel and meeting expenses, and $425 for administrative expenses. In comparison, the aforementioned expense categories budgeted for the 2018–2019 fiscal period were the same amounts. The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by considering anticipated expenses, expected apricot sales, and the amount of funds available in the authorized reserve. Expected income derived from handler assessments of $9,438 (3,300 tons of apricots at $2.86 per ton), would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of $8,325 and contribute $1,113 to the Committee’s financial reserve. Funds in the reserve (estimated to be $7,211 at the beginning of the 2019–2020 fiscal period) would be kept within the maximum permitted by § 922.142(a) by not exceeding the expenses of approximately one fiscal period. The assessment rate established in this final rule will continue in effect E:\FR\FM\07JAR1.SGM 07JAR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 4 / Tuesday, January 7, 2020 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other available information. 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 so 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 315 growers and 13 handlers of apricots 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 of less than $1,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201). According to data from USDA’s Market News Service, the 2018 season average f.o.b. price for Washington apricots was approximately $25.07 per carton. The Committee reported that the industry shipped 3,964 tons for the season, which equals approximately 528,533 cartons (3,964 tons at an approximate 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 less than $30,000,000 ($25.07 times 528,533 VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Jan 06, 2020 Jkt 250001 equals $13,250,331 divided by 13 handlers equals $1,019,256 per handler). In addition, based on USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data, the weighted average grower price for the 2018 season was $1,330 per ton of apricots. Based on grower price, shipment data, and the total number of Washington apricot growers, and assuming a normal distribution, the average annual grower revenue is below $1,000,000 ($1,330 times 3,964 tons equals $5,272,120 divided by 315 growers equals $16,737 per grower). Thus, most growers and handlers of Washington apricots may be classified as small entities. This final rule increases the assessment rate collected from handlers for the 2019–2020 and subsequent fiscal periods from $1.00 to $2.86 per ton of Washington apricots handled. The Committee unanimously recommended 2019–2020 fiscal period expenditures of $8,325 and the $2.86 per ton assessment rate. The assessment rate of $2.86 is $1.86 higher than the rate for the 2018– 2019 fiscal period. The Committee estimates that the industry will handle 3,300 tons of fresh, Washington apricots during the 2019– 2020 fiscal period. Thus, the $2.86 per ton rate should provide $9,438 in assessment income. Income derived from handler assessments would be adequate to cover all budgeted expenses. In addition, the Committee anticipates adding $1,113 to its monetary reserve in the 2019–2020 fiscal period. The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019–2020 fiscal period include $4,000 for program management contract services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $2,600 for annual audit and legal expenses, $1,300 for Committee travel and meeting expenses, and $435 for administrative expenses. Those budgeted expenditures are unchanged from the previous fiscal period. The higher assessment rate is necessary to cover all the Committee’s 2019–2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures and replenish its financial reserve. The Committee has had to draw from its monetary reserve to partially fund program activities during previous fiscal periods. Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee considered maintaining the current assessment rate of $1.00 per ton. However, after grower input and discussions at its May 8, 2019, meeting, the anticipated crop was downgraded from 5,500 to 3,300 tons. This amount PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 639 of production at the current assessment level of $1.00 per ton would not have generated enough revenue to fund the Committee’s operations for the 2019– 2020 fiscal period and allow it to maintain an adequate financial reserve. Based on estimated shipments, the recommended assessment rate of $2.86 per ton of apricots should provide $9,438 in assessment income. The Committee determined assessment revenue will be adequate to cover all budgeted expenditures for the 2019– 2020 fiscal period and allow it to make a small contribution to 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 for the 2019–2020 season should be approximately $800–$1,600 per ton of Washington apricots. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for the 2019–2020 marketing year as a percentage of total grower revenue will be between 0.18 and 0.36 percent. This action increases the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. While assessments impose some additional costs on handlers, the costs are minimal and uniform on all handlers. Some of the additional costs may be passed on to growers. However, these costs would be offset by the benefits derived by the operation of the Order. The Committee’s meetings are widely publicized throughout the Washington apricot industry. All interested persons were invited to attend the meeting 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, AMS will submit them to OMB for approval. This final rule will not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Washington apricot handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically E:\FR\FM\07JAR1.SGM 07JAR1 640 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 4 / Tuesday, January 7, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 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 October 2, 2019 (84 FR 52384). Copies of the proposed rule were provided to all Washington apricot 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 November 1, 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 922 Apricots, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 922 is amended as follows: PART 922—APRICOTS GROWN IN DESIGNATED COUNTIES IN WASHINGTON 1. The authority citation for part 922 continues to read as follows: ■ khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674. 2. Section 922.235 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 922.235 Assessment rate. On and after April 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $2.86 per ton is established for Washington apricots handled in the production area. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Jan 06, 2020 Jkt 250001 Dated: December 20, 2019. Bruce Summers, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2019–28056 Filed 1–6–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA–2019–1103; Special Conditions No. 25–764–SC] Special Conditions: Airbus Defense and Space Model No. C–295 Airplane; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Batteries Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Final special conditions; request for comments. AGENCY: These special conditions are issued for the Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus) Model C–295 airplane. This airplane will have novel or unusual design features when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. The Airbus Model C–295 airplane will have nonrechargeable lithium battery installations. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards. DATES: This action is effective on Airbus on January 7, 2020. Send comments on or before February 21, 2020. ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by Docket No. FAA–2019–1103 using any of the following methods: • Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically. • Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M–30, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12–140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590–0001. • Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12–140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. • Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202–493–2251. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the docket website, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT’s complete Privacy Act Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477–19478). Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at http://www.regulations.gov/ at any time. Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or go to Docket Operations in Room W12–140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nazih Khaouly, Airplane and Flight Crew Interface Section, AIR–671, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 2200 South 216th Street, Des Moines, Washington 98198; telephone and fax 206–231–3160; email Nazih.Khaouly@faa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Emergency Locator Transmitters on Airplanes Operating in Alaska Section 1205 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 1996 requires the FAA to consider the extent to which Alaska is not served by transportation modes other than aviation and to establish appropriate regulatory distinctions when modifying airworthiness regulations that affect intrastate aviation in Alaska. In consideration of this requirement and the overall impact on safety, the FAA does not intend to require nonrechargeable lithium battery special conditions for design changes that only replace a 121.5 megahertz (MHz) emergency locator transmitter (ELT) with a 406 MHz ELT that meets Technical Standard Order C126b, or later revision, on transport airplanes operating only in Alaska. This will support our efforts of encouraging operators in Alaska to upgrade to a 406 MHz ELT. These ELTs provide significantly improved accuracy for lifesaving services to locate an accident site in Alaskan terrain. The FAA considers that the safety benefits from upgrading to a 406 MHz ELT for E:\FR\FM\07JAR1.SGM 07JAR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 4 (Tuesday, January 7, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 638-640]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-28056]



[[Page 638]]

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 922

[Doc. No. AMS-SC-19-0048; SC19-922-1 FR]


Marketing Order Regulating the Handling of Apricots Grown in 
Designated Counties in Washington; Increased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This final rule implements a recommendation from the 
Washington Apricot Marketing Committee (Committee) to increase 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 February 6, 2020.

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 rule is issued under Marketing Order No. 922, as 
amended (7 CFR part 922), regulating the handling of apricots grown in 
designated counties of Washington. Part 922 (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 apricot 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 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 apricot 
handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the Order are 
derived from such assessments. The assessment rate will be applicable 
to all assessable Washington apricots 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 provides authority for 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 Committee discussed the assessment rate in a 
public meeting where all directly affected persons have an opportunity 
to participate and provide input.
    This final rule increases the assessment rate from $1.00 to $2.86 
per ton of Washington apricots handled for the 2019-2020 and subsequent 
fiscal periods. The higher rate is necessary to fund the Committee's 
2019-2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures. Based on input received 
from growers at an annual meeting, the 2019 crop of Washington apricots 
is expected to be unusually low because of the effects of late season 
frost on budding orchard trees. The Committee believes that increasing 
the assessment rate will allow the Committee to fully fund its 2019-
2020 budgeted expenses.
    The Committee held a well-publicized meeting May 8, 2019, at which 
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 voted by email and unanimously recommended 2019-2020 
fiscal period expenditures of $8,325 and an assessment rate of $2.86 
per ton of apricots handled. The 2019-2020 fiscal period budgeted 
expenses are unchanged from the prior year. The assessment rate of 
$2.86 is $1.86 higher than the $1.00 per ton rate currently in effect.
    The Committee recommended the assessment rate increase due to the 
anticipated reduced production level in 2019 resulting from a late 
season frost that damaged the crop. The 2018 crop was also smaller than 
the Committee had anticipated by 2,036 tons, which resulted in the 
Committee using more funds from its financial reserve than expected.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-
2020 fiscal period include $4,000 for program management contract 
services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $2,600 for 
annual audit and legal expenses, $1,300 for Committee travel and 
meeting expenses, and $425 for administrative expenses. In comparison, 
the aforementioned expense categories budgeted for the 2018-2019 fiscal 
period were the same amounts.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
considering anticipated expenses, expected apricot sales, and the 
amount of funds available in the authorized reserve. Expected income 
derived from handler assessments of $9,438 (3,300 tons of apricots at 
$2.86 per ton), would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses of $8,325 
and contribute $1,113 to the Committee's financial reserve. Funds in 
the reserve (estimated to be $7,211 at the beginning of the 2019-2020 
fiscal period) would be kept within the maximum permitted by Sec.  
922.142(a) by not exceeding the expenses of approximately one fiscal 
period.
    The assessment rate established in this final rule will continue in 
effect

[[Page 639]]

indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon 
recommendation and information submitted by the Committee or other 
available information.
    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 so 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 315 growers and 13 handlers of apricots 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 of less than $1,000,000 (13 CFR 121.201).
    According to data from USDA's Market News Service, the 2018 season 
average f.o.b. price for Washington apricots was approximately $25.07 
per carton. The Committee reported that the industry shipped 3,964 tons 
for the season, which equals approximately 528,533 cartons (3,964 tons 
at an approximate 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 less than $30,000,000 ($25.07 times 
528,533 equals $13,250,331 divided by 13 handlers equals $1,019,256 per 
handler).
    In addition, based on USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 
data, the weighted average grower price for the 2018 season was $1,330 
per ton of apricots. Based on grower price, shipment data, and the 
total number of Washington apricot growers, and assuming a normal 
distribution, the average annual grower revenue is below $1,000,000 
($1,330 times 3,964 tons equals $5,272,120 divided by 315 growers 
equals $16,737 per grower). Thus, most growers and handlers of 
Washington apricots may be classified as small entities.
    This final rule increases the assessment rate collected from 
handlers for the 2019-2020 and subsequent fiscal periods from $1.00 to 
$2.86 per ton of Washington apricots handled. The Committee unanimously 
recommended 2019-2020 fiscal period expenditures of $8,325 and the 
$2.86 per ton assessment rate. The assessment rate of $2.86 is $1.86 
higher than the rate for the 2018-2019 fiscal period.
    The Committee estimates that the industry will handle 3,300 tons of 
fresh, Washington apricots during the 2019-2020 fiscal period. Thus, 
the $2.86 per ton rate should provide $9,438 in assessment income. 
Income derived from handler assessments would be adequate to cover all 
budgeted expenses. In addition, the Committee anticipates adding $1,113 
to its monetary reserve in the 2019-2020 fiscal period.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2019-
2020 fiscal period include $4,000 for program management contract 
services provided by the Washington State Fruit Commission, $2,600 for 
annual audit and legal expenses, $1,300 for Committee travel and 
meeting expenses, and $435 for administrative expenses. Those budgeted 
expenditures are unchanged from the previous fiscal period.
    The higher assessment rate is necessary to cover all the 
Committee's 2019-2020 fiscal period budgeted expenditures and replenish 
its financial reserve. The Committee has had to draw from its monetary 
reserve to partially fund program activities during previous fiscal 
periods.
    Prior to arriving at this budget and assessment rate, the Committee 
considered maintaining the current assessment rate of $1.00 per ton. 
However, after grower input and discussions at its May 8, 2019, 
meeting, the anticipated crop was downgraded from 5,500 to 3,300 tons. 
This amount of production at the current assessment level of $1.00 per 
ton would not have generated enough revenue to fund the Committee's 
operations for the 2019-2020 fiscal period and allow it to maintain an 
adequate financial reserve. Based on estimated shipments, the 
recommended assessment rate of $2.86 per ton of apricots should provide 
$9,438 in assessment income. The Committee determined assessment 
revenue will be adequate to cover all budgeted expenditures for the 
2019-2020 fiscal period and allow it to make a small contribution to 
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 
for the 2019-2020 season should be approximately $800-$1,600 per ton of 
Washington apricots. Therefore, the estimated assessment revenue for 
the 2019-2020 marketing year as a percentage of total grower revenue 
will be between 0.18 and 0.36 percent.
    This action increases the assessment obligation imposed on 
handlers. While assessments impose some additional costs on handlers, 
the costs are minimal and uniform on all handlers. Some of the 
additional costs may be passed on to growers. However, these costs 
would be offset by the benefits derived by the operation of the Order.
    The Committee's meetings are widely publicized throughout the 
Washington apricot industry. All interested persons were invited to 
attend the meeting 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, AMS will submit them 
to OMB for approval.
    This final rule will not impose any additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Washington apricot 
handlers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and 
forms are periodically

[[Page 640]]

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 October 2, 2019 (84 FR 52384). Copies of the proposed rule 
were provided to all Washington apricot 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 November 1, 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 922

    Apricots, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 922 is 
amended as follows:

PART 922--APRICOTS GROWN IN DESIGNATED COUNTIES IN WASHINGTON

0
1. The authority citation for part 922 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. Section 922.235 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  922.235  Assessment rate.

    On and after April 1, 2019, an assessment rate of $2.86 per ton is 
established for Washington apricots handled in the production area.

     Dated: December 20, 2019.
Bruce Summers,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-28056 Filed 1-6-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-02-P