[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 63 (Friday, April 1, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 18001-18003]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-7753]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2011 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 18001]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 946

[Doc. No. AMS-FV-11-0012; FV11-946-2 IR]


Irish Potatoes Grown in Washington; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
State of Washington Potato Committee (Committee) for the 2011-2012 and 
subsequent fiscal periods from $0.0035 to $0.003 per hundredweight of 
potatoes handled. The Committee locally administers the marketing order 
which regulates the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Washington. 
Assessments upon Washington potato handlers are used by the Committee 
to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The fiscal 
period begins July 1 and ends June 30. The assessment rate will remain 
in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.

DATES: Effective April 2, 2011. Comments received by May 31, 2011, will 
be considered prior to issuance of a final rule.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this rule. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, 
Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. Comments should reference the document number and 
the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will 
be available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk 
during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this rule 
will be included in the record and will be made available to the 
public. Please be advised that the identity of the individuals or 
entities submitting the comments will be made public on the Internet at 
the address provided above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Teresa Hutchinson or Gary D. Olson, 
Northwest Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration 
Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (503) 326-
2724, Fax: (503) 326-7440, or E-mail: Teresa.Hutchinson@ams.usda.gov or 
GaryD.Olson@ams.usda.gov.
    Small businesses may request information on complying with this 
regulation by contacting Antoinette Carter, Marketing Order 
Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 
Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; 
Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or E-mail: 
Antoinette.Carter@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under Marketing Order 
No. 946, as amended (7 CFR part 946), regulating the handling of Irish 
potatoes grown in Washington, hereinafter referred to as the ``order.'' 
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 Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this rule in 
conformance with Executive Order 12866.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. Under the marketing order now in effect, Washington 
potato handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the 
order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the 
assessment rate as issued herein will be applicable to all assessable 
potatoes beginning July 1, 2011, and continue until amended, suspended, 
or terminated.
    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted 
before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the 
Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition 
stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation 
imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and 
request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. Such 
handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. 
After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides 
that the district court of the United States in any district in which 
the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of 
business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, 
provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of 
the entry of the ruling.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee for the 2011-2012 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.0035 
to $0.003 per hundredweight of potatoes handled.
    The Washington potato marketing 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. The members of the Committee are producers and handlers of 
Washington potatoes. They are familiar with the Committee's needs and 
with the costs for goods and services in their local area and are thus 
in a position to formulate an appropriate budget and assessment rate. 
The assessment rate is formulated and discussed in a public meeting. 
Thus, all directly affected persons have an opportunity to participate 
and provide input.
    For the 2005-2006 and subsequent fiscal periods, the Committee 
recommended, and USDA approved, an assessment rate that would continue 
in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period unless modified, 
suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and information 
submitted by the Committee or other information available to USDA.
    The Committee met on January 26, 2011, and unanimously recommended 
2011-2012 expenditures of $40,050 and an assessment rate of $0.003 per 
hundredweight of potatoes. In comparison, last year's budgeted 
expenditures were $39,950. The assessment rate of $0.003 is $0.0005 
lower than the rate currently in effect. This action will allow the 
Committee to reduce its financial reserve while still

[[Page 18002]]

providing adequate funding to meet program expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2011-
2012 fiscal period include $20,000 for surveillance inspection 
(compliance activity), $4,800 for a management agreement with the 
Washington State Potato Commission, $3,000 for committee expenses, and 
$3,000 for office expenses. These budgeted expenses are the same as 
those approved for the 2010-2011 fiscal period.
    The assessment rate recommended by the Committee was derived by 
multiplying anticipated shipments of Washington potatoes by various 
assessment rates. Applying the $0.003 per hundredweight assessment rate 
to the Committee's 10,000,000 hundredweight crop estimate should 
provide $30,000 in assessment income. Thus, income derived from handler 
assessments and interest ($500) plus $9,550 from the Committee's 
monetary reserve would be adequate to cover the recommended $40,050 
budget for 2011-2012. Funds in the reserve were $68,213 as of June 30, 
2010. The Committee estimates that $4,450 will be deducted from the 
reserve to cover budgeted expenses for 2010-2011. Thus, the Committee 
estimates a reserve of $63,763 on June 30, 2011, which would be within 
the maximum permitted by the order of approximately two fiscal period's 
operational expenses (Sec.  946.42).
    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 is effective 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 will evaluate Committee 
recommendations and other available information to determine whether 
modification of the assessment rate is needed. Further rulemaking will 
be undertaken as necessary. The Committee's 2011-2012 budget and those 
for subsequent fiscal periods will be reviewed and, as appropriate, 
approved by USDA.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 
has considered the economic impact of this rule on small entities. 
Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis.
    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of 
business subject to such actions in order that small businesses will 
not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued 
pursuant to the Act, and the rules issued thereunder, are unique in 
that they are brought about through group action of essentially small 
entities acting on their own behalf.
    There are 43 handlers of Washington potatoes subject to regulation 
under the order and approximately 267 producers in the regulated 
production area. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the 
Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual 
receipts of less than $7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are 
defined as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000.
    During the 2009-2010 marketing year, the Committee reports that 
9,765,131 hundredweight of Washington potatoes were shipped into the 
fresh market. Based on average f.o.b. prices estimated by the USDA's 
Economic Research Service and Committee data on individual handler 
shipments, the Committee estimates that 42, or approximately 98 percent 
of the handlers, had annual receipts of less than $7,000,000.
    In addition, based on information provided by the National 
Agricultural Statistics Service, the average producer price for 
Washington potatoes for 2010 was $7.55 per hundredweight. The average 
gross annual revenue for the 267 Washington potato producers is 
therefore calculated to be approximately $276,130. In view of the 
foregoing, the majority of Washington potato producers and handlers may 
be classified as small entities.
    This rule decreases the assessment rate established for the 
Committee and collected from handlers for the 2011-2012 and subsequent 
fiscal periods from $0.0035 to $0.003 per hundredweight of potatoes. 
The Committee unanimously recommended 2011-2012 expenditures of $40,050 
and an assessment rate of $0.003 per hundredweight. The assessment rate 
of $0.003 is $0.0005 lower than the previous rate. This action will 
allow the Committee to reduce its financial reserve while still 
providing adequate funding to meet program expenses.
    The quantity of assessable potatoes for the 2011-2012 fiscal period 
is estimated at 10,000,000 hundredweight. Thus, the $0.003 rate should 
provide $30,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler 
assessments, along with interest income and funds from the Committee's 
authorized reserve, will be adequate to cover budgeted expenses.
    The major expenditures recommended by the Committee for the 2011-
2012 year include $20,000 for surveillance inspection (compliance 
activity), $4,800 for a management agreement with the Washington State 
Potato Commission, $3,000 for committee expense, and $3,000 for office 
expense. These budgeted expenses are the same as those approved for the 
2010-2011 fiscal period.
    The Committee discussed alternatives to this rule, including 
alternative expenditure levels, but determined that the recommended 
expenses were reasonable and necessary to adequately cover program 
operations. Lower assessment rates were considered, but not recommended 
because they would reduce the financial reserve more than desired.
    A review of historical information and preliminary information 
pertaining to the upcoming fiscal period indicates that the grower 
price for the 2011-2012 fiscal period could range between $7.40 and 
$7.55 per hundredweight of potatoes. Therefore, the estimated 
assessment revenue for the 2011-2012 fiscal period as a percentage of 
total grower revenue could range between 0.0405 and 0.0397 percent.
    This action decreases the assessment obligation imposed on 
handlers. Assessments are applied uniformly on all handlers, and some 
of the costs may be passed on to producers. However, decreasing the 
assessment rate reduces the burden on handlers, and may reduce the 
burden on producers.
    In addition, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized 
throughout the Washington potato industry and all interested persons 
were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee 
deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the January 
26, 2011, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and 
small, were able to express views on this issue. Finally, interested 
persons are invited to submit comments on this interim rule, including 
the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small 
businesses.
    This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements

[[Page 18003]]

on either small or large Washington potato handlers. As with all 
Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically 
reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry 
and public sector agencies.
    AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote 
the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide 
increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information 
and services, and for other purposes.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and 
specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions 
about the compliance guide should be sent to Antoinette Carter 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, as 
hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of 
the Act.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, it is also found and determined upon good 
cause that it is impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public 
interest to give preliminary notice prior to putting this rule into 
effect, and that good cause exists for not postponing the effective 
date of this rule until 30 days after publication in the Federal 
Register because: (1) The 2011-2012 fiscal period begins on July 1, 
2011, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for 
each fiscal period apply to all assessable potatoes handled during such 
fiscal period; (2) this action decreases the assessment rate for 
assessable potatoes beginning with the 2011-2012 fiscal period; (3) 
handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended by 
the Committee at a public meeting and is similar to other assessment 
rate actions issued in past years; and (4) this interim rule provides a 
60-day comment period, and all comments timely received will be 
considered prior to finalization of this rule.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 946

    Marketing agreements, Potatoes, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 946 is 
amended as follows:

PART 946--IRISH POTATOES GROWN IN WASHINGTON

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 946 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
2. Section 946.248 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  946.248  Assessment rate.

    On and after July 1, 2011, an assessment rate of $0.003 per 
hundredweight is established for Washington potatoes.

    Dated: March 28, 2011.
David R. Shipman,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-7753 Filed 3-31-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P