[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 43 (Friday, March 4, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11939-11940]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4808]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 1218

[Document Number AMS-FV-10-0006]


Blueberry Promotion, Research, and Information Order; Section 610 
Review

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Confirmation of regulations.

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SUMMARY: This document summarizes the results of an Agricultural 
Marketing Service (AMS) review of the Blueberry Promotion, Research, 
and Information Order (Order) under the criteria contained in Section 
610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Based upon its review, AMS 
concluded that there is a continued need for the order.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons may obtain a copy of the review on the 
Internet at: http://www.regulations.gov or requests for copies can be 
sent to the Docket Clerk, Research and Promotion Branch, Fruit and 
Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, (Department) Room 0632-S, Stop 0244, 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-0244; facsimile: (202) 205-2800 or 
electronic mail: Jeanette.Palmer@ams.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeanette Palmer, Marketing Specialist, 
Research and Promotion Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 
Stop 0244, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 0632-S, Washington, DC 
20250-0244; telephone: (888) 720-9917; facsimile: (202) 205-2800; or 
electronic mail: Jeanette.Palmer@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Blueberry Promotion, Research and 
Information Order (7 CFR part 1218) is authorized under the Commodity 
Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (Act) [7 U.S.C. 7411-
7425].
    The Order became effective on August 16, 2000 [65 FR 43961]. The 
Order is administered by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (Council) 
with oversight by the Department of Agriculture (Department). The 
program is funded by assessments on highbush (cultivated) blueberries 
grown in and imported into the United States. Producers and importers 
pay the assessment. The producer assessment is remitted by first 
handlers, and the importer assessment is remitted by the U.S. Customs 
and Border Protection. Producers and importers who produce or import 
less than 2,000 pounds of highbush blueberries annually are exempt from 
the program. The purpose of the Order is to finance a coordinated 
program of promotion, research, and information to maintain and expand 
the market for fresh and processed cultivated blueberries in the United 
States and abroad.
    The Council is composed of 16 members as follows: 10 producers (one 
from each of four regions and one from each of the top six producing 
states); 3 importers; 1 exporter from a foreign production area; 1 
handler; and 1 public member. Each member has an alternate. The members 
and alternates are appointed to the Council by the Secretary of 
Agriculture and serve a term of 3 years.
    There are approximately 2,000 producers, 200 first handlers, 50 
importers, and 4 exporters who are subject to the provisions of the 
Order. The majority of the blueberry producers covered by the Order may 
be classified as small entities. Most importers, first handlers, and 
exporters would not be classified as small businesses.
    AMS published in the Federal Register on March 24, 2006 [71 FR 
14827], its plan to review certain regulations, including the Blueberry 
Order under criteria contained in section 610 of the RFA [5 U.S.C. 601-
612]. Because many AMS regulations impact small entities, AMS decided, 
as a matter of policy, to review certain regulations which, although 
they may not meet the threshold requirement under section 610 of the 
RFA, warrant review.
    AMS published a notice of review and request for written comments 
in the Federal Register on February 23, 2010 [75 FR 7986]. Twenty 
comments were received by the April 26, 2010, deadline.
    The review was undertaken to determine whether the Order should be 
continued without change, amended, or rescinded (consistent with the 
objectives of the Act) to minimize the impacts on small entities. AMS 
considered the following factors: (1) The continued need for the Order; 
(2) comments received from the public concerning the Order; (3) the 
complexity of the Order; (4) the extent

[[Page 11940]]

to which the Order overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other 
Federal rules, and, to the extent feasible, with State and local 
regulations; and (5) the length of time since the Order has been 
evaluated or the degree to which technology, economic conditions, or 
other factors have changed in the area affected by the Order.
    Based on its review, the Department has concluded that there is a 
continued need for the Order. According to the Council's World 
Blueberry Acreage and Production Report, highbush blueberry acreage in 
North America increased from 71,075 acres in 2005 to an estimated 
95,607 acres in 2008, a 35 percent increase in just three years. The 
United States share of this total increased from 56,665 acres in 2005 
to 74,992 acres in 2008, a 32 percent increase. Highbush blueberry 
production volume is expected to increase significantly in the coming 
years.
    Regarding the nature of complaints or comments received from the 
public concerning the Order, as previously mentioned twenty comments 
were received. They are discussed in the following paragraphs. One 
commenter opposed the program stating that government funds should not 
be used to market blueberries. However, the blueberry program is funded 
by producers and importers of blueberries. The program is developed by 
the industry to expand the markets for blueberries in the United 
States.
    Nineteen commenters supported the program and considered it to be 
effective in promoting blueberries. All the commenters stated that the 
program is needed to increase blueberry consumption due to increase 
blueberry production.
    One commenter stated that investing in promotion now to build a 
future is necessary even in poor economic conditions. Twelve commenters 
in favor of the program stated that further research of blueberries is 
needed to stay competitive in a global industry. Six commenters stated 
the program is needed to develop health claims for blueberries.
    One commenter who supports the program stated that the ability for 
growers from different production areas to work together in an effort 
to increase consumption through product research and marketing programs 
has proven effective for many other crops.
    Ten commenters stated that the assessment dollars are collected 
fairly from all U.S. production and imports and the Council utilizes 
the funds in a cost effective manner.
    AMS provides Federal oversight of the blueberry program. The Order 
is not unduly complex, and AMS has not identified any Federal rules, or 
State and local regulations that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
the Order. Over the years, regulatory changes have been made to address 
industry operation changes and to improve program administration.
    Regarding evaluations of the program or the degree to which 
technology, economic conditions, or other factors have changed in the 
area affected by the Order, section 512 (a)(6) of the Act and section 
1218.55 of the Order require the Council to evaluate the program and to 
comply with the independent evaluation provision of the Federal 
Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (FAIR) [7 U.S.C. 7201]. 
The goal of these evaluations is to assure that the Order and the 
regulations implemented under it fit the needs of the industry and are 
consistent with the Act. The Council conducted an evaluation of the 
program under the FAIR in 2006. This evaluation, ``An Economic Analysis 
of Domestic Market Impacts of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council,'' 
concluded that the promotional spending by the Council clearly had a 
positive effect on demand. The next evaluation is scheduled to be 
conducted late in 2011.
    Based upon its review, AMS has determined that the Order should be 
continued. AMS plans to continue working with the blueberry industry in 
maintaining an effective program.

    Dated: February 25, 2011.
David R. Shipman,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-4808 Filed 3-3-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P