[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 38 (Friday, February 26, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 9743-9744]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-04044]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 987

[Docket No. AMS-FV-15-0034; FV15-987-1 FIR]


Domestic Dates Produced or Packed in Riverside County, 
California; Decreased Assessment Rate

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Affirmation of interim rule as final rule.

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

SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final 
rule, without change, an interim rule that implemented a recommendation 
from the California Date Administrative Committee (committee) to 
decrease the assessment rate established for the 2015-16 and subsequent 
crop years from $0.20 to $0.10 per hundredweight of dates handled under 
the marketing order (order). The committee locally administers the 
marketing order and is comprised of producers and handlers of dates 
grown or packed in Riverside County, California. The interim rule to 
decrease the assessment rate was necessary to allow the Committee to 
reduce its financial reserve while still providing adequate funding to 
meet program expenses.

DATES: Effective February 29, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Terry Vawter, Senior Marketing 
Specialist, or Jeff Smutny, Regional Director, California Marketing 
Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops 
Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906, or 
Email: [email protected] or [email protected].
    Small businesses may obtain information on complying with this and 
other marketing order regulations by viewing a guide at the following 
Web site: http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/small-businesses; or by contacting Antoinette Carter, 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 rule is issued under Marketing 
Agreement and Order No. 987, both as amended (7 CFR part 987), 
regulating the handling of dates produced or packed in Riverside 
County, California, 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 Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.
    Under the order, Riverside County, California, date handlers are 
subject to assessments, which provide funds to administer the order. 
Assessment rates issued under the order are intended to be applicable 
to all assessable dates for the entire crop year and continue

[[Page 9744]]

indefinitely until amended, suspended, or terminated. The Committee's 
crop year begins on October 1, and ends on September 30.
    In an interim rule published in the Federal Register on October 28, 
2015, and effective on October 29, 2015 (80 FR 65886, Doc. No. AMS-FV-
15-0034, FV15-987-1 IR), Sec.  987.339 was amended by decreasing the 
assessment rate established for California dates for the 2015-16 and 
subsequent crop years from $0.20 to $0.10 per hundredweight of dates. 
The decrease in the per hundredweight assessment rate allows the 
Committee to reduce its financial reserve while still providing 
adequate funding to meet program expenses.

Final 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 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, 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 approximately 70 producers of dates in the production 
area and 11 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. 
The Small Business Administration defines small agricultural producers 
as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000, and small 
agricultural service firms as those whose annual receipts are less than 
$7,500,000. (13 CFR 121.201)
    According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 
data for the most-recently completed crop year (2014) shows that about 
3.54 tons, or 7,080 pounds, of dates were produced per acre. The 2014 
producer price published by NASS was $1,190 per ton. Thus, the value of 
date production per acre in 2014-15 averaged about $4,213 (3.54 tons 
times $1,190 per ton). At that average price, a producer would have to 
farm over 178 acres to receive an annual income from dates of $750,000 
($750,000 divided by $4,213 per acre equals 178.02 acres). According to 
committee staff, the majority of California date producers farm less 
than 178 acres. Thus, it can be concluded that the majority of date 
producers could be considered small entities. In addition, according to 
data from the committee staff, the majority of handlers of California 
dates have receipts of less than $7,500,000 and may also be considered 
small entities.
    This rule continues in effect the action that decreased the 
assessment rate established for the committee and collected from 
handlers for the 2015-16 and subsequent crop years from $0.20 to $0.10 
per hundredweight of dates. The committee unanimously recommended 2015-
16 expenditures of $59,250 and an assessment rate of $0.10 per 
hundredweight of dates, which is $0.10 lower than the rate previously 
in effect. Applying the $0.10 per hundredweight assessment rate to the 
estimated crop at 29,000,000 pounds (290,000 hundredweight) should 
provide $29,000 in assessment income. Thus, income derived from 
handler's assessments, along with other income and funds from the 
committee's authorized reserve, should be adequate funding to meet 
program expenses.
    This rule continues in effect the action that decreased the 
assessment obligation imposed on handlers. Assessments are applied 
uniformly on all handlers; however, decreasing the assessment rate 
reduces the burden on handlers.
    In addition, the committee's meeting was widely publicized 
throughout the California date industry, and all interested persons 
were invited to attend the meetings and encouraged to participate in 
committee deliberations on all issues. Like all committee meetings, the 
June 25, 2015, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both 
large and small, were able to express views on this issue.
    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 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
assigned OMB No. 0581-0178, ``Vegetable and Specialty Crop Marketing 
Orders.'' No changes in those requirements as a result of this action 
are necessary. Should any changes become necessary, they would be 
submitted to OMB for approval.
    This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on either small or large Riverside County, California, 
date 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.
    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this rule.
    Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or 
before December 28, 2015. No comments were received. Therefore, for 
reasons given in the interim rule, we are adopting the interim rule as 
a final rule, without change.
    To view the interim rule, go to: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=AMS-FV-15-0034-0001.
    This action also affirms information contained in the interim rule 
concerning Executive Orders 12866, 12988, 13175, and 13563; the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35); and the E-Gov Act (44 
U.S.C. 101).
    After consideration of all relevant material presented, it is found 
that finalizing the interim rule, without change, as published in the 
Federal Register (80 FR 65886, October 28, 2015) will tend to 
effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 987

    Dates, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

PART 987--DATES PRODUCED OR PACKED IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA 
[AMENDED]

0
Accordingly, the interim rule amending 7 CFR part 987, which was 
published at 80 FR 65886 on October 28, 2015, is adopted as a final 
rule, without change.

    Dated: February 22, 2016.
Elanor Starmer,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-04044 Filed 2-25-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P