Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.
This rule will revise the administrative rules and regulations of the Federal marketing order for California walnuts (order) regarding reports of interhandler transfers of walnuts. The order regulates the handling of walnuts grown in California and is administered locally by the Walnut Marketing Board (Board). Currently, handlers report to the Board transfers of walnuts between handlers on monthly shipment reports. This rule will require handlers to report such interhandler transfers on a separate form. This action will facilitate program administration by providing the Board with more accurate and complete information on transfers and shipments.
August 1, 2000.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Maureen T. Pello, Marketing Specialist, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 2202 Monterey Street, Suite 102B, Fresno, California 93721; telephone: (559) 487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906; or George Kelhart, Technical Advisor, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, room 2525-S, Washington, DC 20090-6456; telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-5698.
Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, room 2525-S, Washington, DC 20090-6456; telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-5698, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement and Order No. 984, both as amended (7 CFR part 984), regulating the handling of walnuts grown in California, hereinafter referred to as the “order.” The marketing agreement and order are 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 (Department) is issuing this rule in conformance with Executive Order 12866.
This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule.
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 the Secretary 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 the Secretary 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 the Secretary'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 will revise the order's administrative rules and regulations regarding reports of interhandler transfers of walnuts. Currently, handlers report to the Board transfers of walnuts between handlers on monthly shipment reports. This rule will require handlers to report such interhandler transfers on a separate form. This action will facilitate program administration by providing the Board with more accurate and complete information on transfers and shipments. This action was unanimously recommended by the Board at a meeting on February 18, 2000.
Section 984.76 of the order provides authority for the Board, with the approval of the Secretary, to require handlers to furnish reports and information to the Board as needed to enable the Board to perform its duties under the order. The Board meets during the season to make decisions on various programs authorized under the order. These programs include quality control (minimum grade and size requirements for both inshell and shelled walnuts placed into channels of commerce), volume regulation, and projects regarding production research, and marketing research and development.
Section 984.59 of the order provides authority for handlers to transfer walnuts between handlers. Paragraph (a) of that section states that inshell walnuts may be sold or delivered by one handler to another for packing or shelling within California. In such cases, the receiving handler assumes marketing order obligations with respect to the transferred walnuts, including assessment and inspection requirements. Paragraph (b) of § 984.59 pertains to transfers of walnuts when volume regulation is in effect. Specifically, handlers may, for purposes of meeting their reserve obligation, acquire walnuts from other handlers. In such cases, the buying handler assumes marketing order obligations with respect to the transferred walnuts, including assessment, reserve, and inspection requirements. Paragraph (c) of § 984.59 Start Printed Page 39285provides that, with the exceptions stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) of § 984.59, whenever transfers of walnuts are made between handlers, the first handler thereof shall assume all marketing order obligations pertaining to the walnuts.
Currently, handlers are required to report interhandler transfers on monthly shipment reports, WMB Form No. 6. However, the monthly shipment reports do not require handlers to indicate the date the walnuts were transferred, and whether the transferred walnuts were certified by the Dried Fruit Association (DFA). DFA is the agency designated under the order to provide inspection services for handlers. Also, the reports do not indicate the date the walnuts were received by the handler accepting the walnuts, or include a confirmation by the accepting handler that such walnuts were received. This information on transfers is useful to the Board as it reconciles handler shipments and inventories.
The Board recommended that a new form be developed specific to interhandler transfers. A handler who transfers walnuts to another handler will have to complete and submit WMB Form No. 8 to the Board within 10-calendar days following the transfer. The report will contain the following information: (1) The date of the transfer; (2) the net weight, in pounds, of the walnuts transferred; (3) whether such walnuts were certified by the DFA; (4) whether such walnuts were inshell or shelled; (5) the name and address of the transferring handler; and (6) the name and address of the receiving handler. The transferring handler will be required to send two copies of the report to the receiving handler at the same time the transferring handler will submit the report to the Board. The receiving handler will then certify, on one copy of the report, that he or she received the walnuts. The receiving handler will then submit the report to the Board within 10-calendar days after the walnuts, or copies of the report, are received, whichever is later. Transfers of reserve walnuts during periods of volume regulation will continue to be reported on WMB Form No. 17.
This rule will provide the Board with more accurate and complete information regarding handler transfers and shipments of walnuts, thereby facilitating program administration. Accordingly, a new § 984.459 will be added to the order's administrative rules and regulations.
Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 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 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. Thus, both statutes have small entity orientation and compatibility.
There are approximately 5,000 producers of walnuts in the production area and approximately 50 handlers subject to regulation under the order. Small agricultural producers are defined by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts of less than $500,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $5,000,000.
During the 1998-99 season, as a percentage, 24 percent of the handlers shipped over 2.6 million kernelweight pounds of walnuts, and 76 percent of the handlers shipped under 2.6 million kernelweight pounds of walnuts. Based on an average price of $1.88 per kernelweight pound at the point of first sale, the majority of handlers of California walnuts may be classified as small entities, excluding receipts from other sources.
This final rule will add a new § 984.459 to the order's administrative rules and regulations which requires handlers to report transfers of walnuts between handlers on a separate form. Currently, interhandler transfers are reported on handlers' monthly shipment reports. This action will facilitate program administration by providing the Board with more accurate and complete information on transfers and shipments. Authority for requiring handlers to submit this information to the Board is provided in §§ 984.59 and 984.76 of the order.
Regarding the impact of this action on affected entities, this rule will impose a minimal, additional reporting burden on handlers who transfer walnuts. Handlers who transfer walnuts are already reporting transfers to the Board on monthly shipment reports. This action will require such handlers to report transfers on a separate form. Board staff estimates that there are about 25 interhandler transfers per year (20 total during the months of October, November, and December, and 0-1 during the other 9 months). This action is designed to provide the Board with more accurate and complete information on shipments and transfers which will facilitate program administration.
Regarding alternatives to the recommended action, the Board and industry members discussed at the Board's February 18, 2000, meeting different time frames for the submission of the separate, interhandler transfer report. A 5-day time frame was considered whereby transferring handlers would submit their report to the Board within 5 days of the transfer, and the receiving handler would submit their report within 5 days of receiving the walnuts. However, the Board believed that 5 days was too short a time frame for handlers, and recommended the 10-day time frame.
This action will impose some additional reporting and recordkeeping burden on handlers. As previously mentioned, it is estimated that there are about 25 interhandler transfers per year. It will take handlers about 10 minutes to complete the new form for a total industry burden of about 4 hours per year. With interhandler transfers no longer on monthly shipment reports, the burden for handlers to complete the monthly shipment report will be reduced from 15 to 10 minutes per report, or from a total of 3 to 2 hours per year. Thus, the total annual increase in burden for the industry is estimated at 3 hours. The revised shipment report and the new, interhandler transfer report have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control No. 0581-0178. As with other similar marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. The Department has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this rule.
In addition, the Board's meeting on February 18, 2000, where this action was deliberated was a public meeting widely publicized throughout the walnut industry. All interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in the Board's deliberations.
A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal Register on April 5, 2000 (65 FR 17809). Copies of the rule were mailed to all handlers, Board members, and alternate members. The rule was also made available through the Internet by the Office of the Federal Register. A 60-day comment period ending June 5, 2000, was provided to allow interested persons to respond to the proposal. No comments were received.
A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop Start Printed Page 39286marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/fv/moab.html. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jay Guerber at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.
After consideration of all relevant matter presented, including the information and recommendation submitted by the Board and other available information, it is found that this rule, as hereinafter set forth, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act.Start List of Subjects
List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 984End List of Subjects Start Amendment Part
For the reasons set forth in the preamble,End Amendment Part Start Part
PART 984—WALNUTS GROWN IN CALIFORNIAEnd Part Start Amendment Part
1. The authority citation forEnd Amendment Part Start Amendment Part
2. A new § 984.459 is added to read as follows:End Amendment Part
(a) Any handler who transfers walnuts to another handler within the State of California shall submit to the Board, not later than 10 calendar days following such transfer, a report showing the following:
(1) The date of transfer;
(2) The net weight, in pounds, of the walnuts transferred;
(3) Whether such walnuts were certified by the inspection service;
(4) Whether such walnuts were inshell or shelled;
(5) The name and address of the transferring handler; and
(6) The name and address of the receiving handler.
(b) The transferring handler shall send two copies of the report to the receiving handler at the time the report is submitted to the Board. The receiving handler shall certify, on one copy of the report, to the receipt of such walnuts and submit it to the Board within 10 calendar days after the walnuts, or copies of such report, have been received, whichever is later.
Dated: June 16, 2000.
Robert C. Keeney,
Deputy Administrator, Fruit and Vegetable Programs.
[FR Doc. 00-16016 Filed 6-23-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P