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Citrus Canker; Quarantined Areas

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Interim rule and request for comments.

SUMMARY:

We are amending the citrus canker regulations by removing a portion of Manatee County, FL, from the list of quarantined areas. The regulations require that an area be free from citrus canker for a period of at least 2 years before it may be removed from the list of quarantined areas. Surveys have shown that the Duette area of Manatee County, FL, has been free of citrus canker since February 4, 2000. This action removes restrictions on the interstate movement of regulated articles from that portion of Manatee County, FL.

DATES:

This interim rule is effective May 8, 2002. We will consider all comments we receive that are postmarked, delivered, or e-mailed by July 8, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by postal mail/commercial delivery or by e-mail. If you use postal mail/commercial delivery, please send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to: Docket No. 02-029-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. 02-029-1. If you use e-mail, address your comment to regulations@aphis.usda.gov. Your comment must be contained in the body of your message; do not send attached files. Please include your name and address in your message and “Docket No. 02-029-1” on the subject line.

You may read any comments that we receive on this docket in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.

APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/​ppd/​rad/​webrepor.html.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Stephen Poe, Operations Officer, Surveillance and Emergency Programs Planning and Coordination, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 134, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 734-8899.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Citrus canker is a plant disease that affects plants and plant parts, including fresh fruit, of citrus and citrus relatives (Family Rutaceae). Citrus canker can cause defoliation and other serious damage to the leaves and twigs of susceptible plants. It can also cause lesions on the fruit of infected plants, which render the fruit unmarketable, Start Printed Page 30770and cause infected fruit to drop from the trees before reaching maturity. The aggressive A (Asiatic) strain of citrus canker can infect susceptible plants rapidly and lead to extensive economic losses in commercial citrus-producing areas.

The regulations to prevent the interstate spread of citrus canker are contained in 7 CFR 301.75-1 through 301.75-16 (referred to below as the regulations). The regulations restrict the interstate movement of regulated articles from and through areas quarantined because of citrus canker and provide for the designation of survey areas around quarantined areas. Survey areas undergo close monitoring by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and State inspectors for citrus canker and serve as buffer zones against the disease.

Under § 301.75-4(c) of the regulations, any State or portion of a State where an infestation is detected will be designated as a quarantined area and will retain that designation until the area has been free from citrus canker for 2 years. A 41-square-mile area in the eastern part of Manatee County, FL, has been free of citrus canker since February 4, 2000, and has thus met the requirement for declaration of eradication—that an area be free from citrus canker for a period of at least 2 years. This area, which has been known as the Duette quarantined area, is described as, “That portion of the county bounded by a line drawn as follows: Beginning at the northwest corner of sec. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, T. 33 S., R. 21 E.; then east along sec. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, T. 33 S., R. 21 E., to sec. 12, T. 33 S., R. 21 E.; then south along sec. 12, T. 33 S., R. 21 E., to sec. 18, 19, 30, and 31, T. 33 S., R. 22 E.; then east along sec. 18, 19, 30, and 31, T. 33 S., R. 22 E., to sec. 6, T. 34 S., R. 22 E.; then south along sec. 6, T. 34 S., R. 22 E., to sec. 7, T. 34 S., R. 22 E.; then west along sec. 7, T. 34 S., R. 22 E., to sec. 12, 11, 10, and 9, T. 34 S., R. 21 E.; then south along sec. 12, 11, 10, and 9, T. 34 S., R. 21 E., to sec. 8 and 5, T. 34 S., R. 21 E.; then north along sec. 8 and 5, T. 34 S., R. 21 E., to sec. 31, 29, 20, 17, and 8, T. 33 S., R. 21 E.; then north along sec. 31, 29, 20, 17, and 8, T. 33 S., R. 12 E., to the point of beginning.”

Regular and complete surveys have been conducted on an approximately monthly basis since the infestation was first detected, including that time from the destruction of the last infected tree on February 4, 2000, to the present. Surveys have been conducted of all citrus trees located in both commercial groves and at residential properties. In addition, any wild citrus that was observed in the area has also been surveyed.

Although not required as a condition of declaring eradication in an area, in this case all abandoned citrus orchards in the area have also been removed. Abandoned citrus groves present a challenge in conducting surveys, and thus the removal of these groves increases our confidence that citrus canker is no longer present in this area.

Therefore, we are amending the citrus canker regulations by removing the Duette area in Manatee County, FL, from the list of quarantined areas in § 301.75-4(a). This action removes restrictions on the interstate movement of regulated articles from and through the Duette area of Manatee County, FL.

Immediate Action

Immediate action is warranted to remove restrictions on the interstate movement of regulated articles from and through the portion of Manatee County, FL, that we are removing from the list of quarantined areas based on its freedom from citrus canker for a period of at least 2 years. Under these circumstances, the Administrator has determined that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are contrary to the public interest and that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553 for making this action effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

We will consider comments we receive during the comment period for this interim rule (see DATES above). After the comment period closes, we will publish another document in the Federal Register. The document will include a discussion of any comments we receive and any amendments we are making to the rule as a result of the comments.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. For this action, the Office of Management and Budget has waived its review process required by Executive Order 12866.

We are amending the citrus canker regulations by removing a portion of the quarantined area in Manatee County, FL, from the list of quarantined areas. The regulations require that an area be free from citrus canker for a period of at least 2 years before it may be removed from the list of quarantined areas. Surveys have shown that the 41-square-mile Duette quarantined area in eastern Manatee County, FL, has been free of citrus canker since February 4, 2000. This action removes restrictions on the interstate movement of regulated articles from the Duette area of Manatee County, FL.

The area to be removed from quarantine, totaling 41 square miles or 26,240 acres, represents a relatively small portion of citrus production in Manatee County. Even if the area consisted entirely of citrus acreage, which it does not, the 26,240 acres would be equivalent to approximately 3 percent of Florida's total citrus acreage. The table below shows statistics for Manatee County after trees were removed to limit the spread of citrus canker.

Boxes of citrus produced in 2000-2001 seasonTotal acres January 2000Total number of trees January 2000
All Round Oranges7,791,00021,2362,631,200
All Grapefruit400,0001,197111,900
Specialty Fruit151,00082198,300
All Citrus8,342,00023,2542,841,400
 Source: Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, “Citrus Summary 2000-01,” January 2002.

Most of the citrus producers in and around the Duette quarantined area would qualify as small businesses under Small Business Administration (SBA) guidelines. The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires that the Agency specifically consider the economic impact on small entities associated with rule changes. The SBA defines a firm engaged in agriculture as “small” if it has less than $750,000 in annual receipts.

This interim rule will not impose any costs on affected citrus producers and should offer them some benefits. Citrus Start Printed Page 30771producers in the Duette area will have the option of replanting trees in the previously quarantined area and have greater choice of where to market their fruit.

The benefits of releasing the Duette area from quarantine restrictions are likely to be small, however. How much of the newly unrestricted area will be replanted in citrus is unknown. In general, citrus prices have been soft, so it is uncertain whether a large portion of the acreage will be replanted in citrus in the short run. Of course, it takes several years for citrus trees to become productive, so any decision to replant will have to be based on the grower's perception of the market conditions for citrus several years in the future. Taking these factors into account, we anticipate that producer incomes or expenses are unlikely to be affected in a significant way.

Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12372

This program/activity is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance under No. 10.025 and is subject to Executive Order 12372, which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials. (See 7 CFR part 3015, subpart V.)

Executive Order 12988

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule contains no new information collection or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 301

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Accordingly, we are amending

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PART 301—DOMESTIC QUARANTINE NOTICES

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1. The authority citation for part 301 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 166, 7711, 7712, 7714, 7731, 7735, 7751, 7752, 7753, and 7754; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.

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Section 301.75-15 also issued under Sec. 204, Title II,

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[Amended]
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2. In § 301.75-4, paragraph (a), in the entry for Manatee County, the second paragraph is removed.

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Done in Washington, DC, this 2nd day of May, 2002.

Peter Fernandez,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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[FR Doc. 02-11459 Filed 5-7-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-34-P