[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 234 (Thursday, December 5, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 73111-73112]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28869]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 73111]]


Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 970

[Doc. No. AO-FV-09-0138; AMS-FV-09-0029; FV09-970-1]

National Marketing Agreement Regulating Leafy Green Vegetables; 
Termination of Proceeding on Proposed Marketing Agreement

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Termination of proceeding.


SUMMARY: This action terminates a rulemaking proceeding that proposed 
to establish a marketing agreement (agreement) under the Agricultural 
Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (Act) to regulate the handling of fresh 
leafy green vegetables in the United States. The agreement that was 
proposed by members of the produce industry would have authorized the 
development and implementation of handling regulations (audit metrics) 
to reflect the United States Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Good 
Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Good Handling Practices (GHPs), and Good 
Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).

DATES: This termination is made on December 6, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Schmaedick, Marketing Order 
and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, P.O. 
Box 952, Moab, UT 84532; Telephone (202) 557-4783, Fax (435) 259-1502, 
or Email: [email protected], or Michelle P. Sharrow, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable 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: Prior documents in this proceeding include: 
Notice of Public Hearing issued on August 31, 2009, and published in 
the September 3, 2009, issue of the Federal Register (74 FR 45565); 
Notice of Additional Time for Public Hearing issued on September 18, 
2009, and published in the September 23, 2009, issue of the Federal 
Register (74 FR 48423); and Recommended Decision and Opportunity to 
File Written Exceptions issued on April 22, 2011, and published in the 
April 29, 2011, issue of the Federal Register (76 FR 24292). The 
hearings were held pursuant to the provisions of the Agricultural 
Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), and the 
applicable rules of practice and procedure governing the formulation of 
marketing agreements (7 CFR Part 900).
    This rulemaking action is governed by the provisions of sections 
556 and 557 of title 5 of the United States Code and is therefore 
excluded from the requirements of Executive Order 12866.

Preliminary Statement

    On June 10, 2009, a petition for rulemaking and request for public 
hearing on a proposed national marketing agreement for leafy green 
vegetables was submitted to AMS. The proposal was submitted by a group 
of producers, handlers, and interested persons representing a cross-
section of the national fresh and fresh-cut produce industry.
    The proposed agreement would have established a voluntary program 
that would have included mandatory compliance for its signatories under 
the authority of the Act. The agreement would have authorized the 
development and implementation of handling audit metrics consistent 
with the FDA's good production, handling, and manufacturing practices 
(GAPs, GHPs, and GMPs). Signatory handlers would have been required to 
only handle domestic and imported leafy green vegetables that met the 
audit requirements established under the agreement. The program would 
have been administered by a board appointed by the Secretary, would 
have operated under the oversight of AMS, and would have been financed 
by assessments collected from signatory first handlers. Proponents 
anticipated that the proposed agreement would help minimize the 
potential for microbial contamination in production and handling 
systems and improve consumer confidence in leafy green vegetables in 
the United States market.
    A Notice of Public Hearing was published in the Federal Register on 
September 3, 2009, and was followed by a Notice of Additional Time for 
Public Hearing, which was published in the Federal Register on 
September 23, 2009.
    The public hearing was held on: September 22 through 24, 2009, in 
Monterey, California; September 30 through October 1, 2009, in 
Jacksonville, Florida; October 6, 2009, in Columbus, Ohio; October 8, 
2009, in Denver, Colorado; October 14 and 15, 2009, in Yuma, Arizona; 
October 20, 2009, in Syracuse, New York; and October 22, 2009, in 
Charlotte, North Carolina. At the conclusion of the hearing, the 
Administrative Law Judge set January 12, 2010, as the due date for 
interested persons to file proposed findings and conclusions or written 
arguments based on the evidence received at the hearing. The 
Administrative Law Judge issued an order extending this deadline 
through January 27, 2010.
    A Recommended Decision and Opportunity to File Written Exceptions 
(recommended decision) was published in the Federal Register on April 
29, 2011. Exceptions to the recommended decision were due by July 28, 
2011. The recommended decision also announced AMS's intent to request 
approval of new information collection requirements to implement the 
agreement. Written comments on the proposed information collection 
requirements were also due by July 28, 2011. A total of 2,143 comments 
were received by USDA.
    In January 2013, FDA published two proposed rules, ``Standards for 
Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human 
Consumption'' (78 FR 3504) and ``Current Good Manufacturing Practice 
and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food'' 
(78 FR 3646), implementing sections of the Food Safety Modernization 
Act. This ongoing rulemaking may affect fundamental aspects of the 
proposed leafy green vegetable marketing agreement program. As a 
result, it is appropriate to terminate the leafy green vegetable 
marketing agreement rulemaking proceeding at this time.
    Termination of this proceeding will remove ex parte communication 
prohibitions and allow USDA to engage

[[Page 73112]]

fully with all interested parties to discuss and consider the evolving 
needs of the industry and consumers going forward. Based on the above, 
USDA is terminating this rulemaking proceeding.

Regulatory Flexibility Act and Paperwork Reduction Act

    As part of the proceedings conducted for this rulemaking, the 
provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) and the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1955 (Pub. L. 104-13) were considered. 
Because this action terminates the underlying rulemaking proceeding, 
the economic conditions of small entities are not changed as a result 
of this action, nor have any compliance requirements changed. Also, 
this action does not provide for any new or changed reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements. Accordingly, all supporting forms for the 
proposed program will be withdrawn.

Termination of Proceeding

    In view of the foregoing, it is hereby determined that the 
proceeding proposing a national marketing agreement for the regulation 
of leafy green vegetables should be and is hereby terminated.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 970

    Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 

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

    Dated: November 26, 2013.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-28869 Filed 12-4-13; 8:45 am]