Skip to Content

Proposed Rule

Tart Cherries Grown in the States of Michigan, et al.; Increased Assessment Rates

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule would increase the assessment rate for cherries that are utilized in the production of tart cherry products other than juice, juice concentrate, or puree from $0.00175 to $0.0021 per pound. It also would increase the assessment rate for cherries utilized for juice, juice concentrate, or puree from $0.000875 to $0.00105 per pound. Both assessment rates were recommended by the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (Board) under Marketing Order No. 930 for the 2002-2003 and subsequent fiscal periods. The Board is responsible for local administration of the marketing order which regulates the handling of tart cherries grown in the production area. Authorization to assess tart cherry handlers enables the Board to incur expenses that are reasonable and necessary to administer the program. The fiscal period will begin July 1, 2002, and end June 30, 2003. The assessment rates would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.

DATES:

Comments must be received by July 10, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this action. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938, or e-mail: moabdocket.clerk@usda.gov. All comments should reference the docket number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours or can be viewed at: http://www.ams/​usda.gov/​fv/​moab.html.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Patricia A. Petrella or Kenneth G. Johnson, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, Suite 2A04, Unit 155, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD 20737, telephone: (301) 734-5243, or Fax: (301) 734-5275; or George Kelhart, Technical Advisor, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; telephone: (202) 720-2491, or Fax: (202) 720-8938.

Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jay Guerber, 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: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement and Order No. 930 (7 CFR part 930), regulating the handling of tart cherries grown in the States of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, 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 (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, tart cherry handlers are subject to assessments. Funds to administer the order are derived from such assessments. It is intended that the assessment rates as issued herein would be applicable to all assessable tart cherries beginning July 1, 2002, and continue until amended, suspended, or terminated. 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 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 would increase the assessment rate established for the Board for the 2002-2003 and subsequent fiscal periods for cherries that are utilized in the production of tart cherry products other than juice, juice concentrate, or puree from $0.00175 to $0.0021 per pound of cherries. The assessment rate for cherries utilized for juice, juice concentrate, or puree would be increased from $0.000875 to $0.00105 per pound.

The tart cherry marketing order provides authority for the Board, 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 Board are producers and handlers of tart cherries. They are familiar with the Board'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 rates. The assessment rates are formulated and discussed in a public meeting. Thus, all directly affected Start Printed Page 39638persons have an opportunity to participate and provide input.

For the 2001-2002 fiscal period, the Board recommended, and the Department approved, assessment rates that would continue in effect from fiscal period to fiscal period unless modified, suspended, or terminated by the USDA upon recommendation and information submitted by the Board or other information available to USDA.

Section 930.42(a) of the order authorizes a reserve sufficient to cover one year's operating expenses. The increased rates are expected to generate enough income to meet the Board's operating expenses in 2002-2003.

The Board met on January 24, 2002, and unanimously recommended 2002-2003 expenditures of $522,500. The Board also recommended an assessment rate of $0.0021 per pound of tart cherries utilized in the production of tart cherry products other than juice, juice concentrate, and puree products and an assessment rate of $0.00105 per pound for juice, juice concentrate, and puree products. In comparison, last year's budgeted expenditures were $442,500. The recommended assessment rates of $0.0021 and $0.00105 are higher than the current rates of $0.00175 and $0.000875, respectively. The Board recommended increased assessment rates to generate larger revenue to meet its expenses and keep its reserves at an acceptable level.

The order provides that when an assessment rate based on the number of pounds of tart cherries handled is established, it should provide for differences in relative market values for various cherry products. The discussion of this provision in the order's promulgation record indicates that proponents testified that cherries utilized in high value products such as frozen, canned, or dried cherries should be assessed one rate while cherries used to make low value products such as juice concentrate or puree should be assessed at one-half that rate.

The major expenditures recommended by the Board for the 2002-2003 fiscal period include $85,000 for meetings, $170,000 for compliance, $185,000 for personnel, $80,000 for office expenses, and $2,500 for industry educational efforts. Budgeted expenses for those items in 2001-2002 were $80,000 for meetings, $100,000 for compliance, $185,000 for personnel, $75,000 for office expenses, and $2,500 for industry educational efforts, respectively.

In deriving the recommended assessment rates, the Board determined assessable tart cherry production for the fiscal period at 260 million pounds. It further estimated that about 220 million pounds of the assessable poundage would be utilized in the production of high-valued products, like frozen, canned, or dried cherries, and that about 15 million pounds would be utilized in the production of low-valued products, like juice, juice concentrate, or puree. Potential assessment income from the high valued products would be approximately $462,000 (220 million pounds × $0.0021 per pound). The potential income from tart cherries utilized for juice, juice concentrate, or puree would be $15,750 (15 million pounds × $0.00105 per pound). No assessment income would be received by the Board on approximately 25 million pounds of the projected production of 260 million pounds of tart cherries. Cherries used for export and other diversion outlets are exempt from assessment obligations. Therefore, total assessment income for 2002-2003 is estimated at $477,750. This amount plus adequate funds in the reserve and interest income would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Funds in the reserve (approximately $233,000) would be kept within the approximately six months' operating expenses as recommended by the Board consistent with § 930.42(a).

The assessment rates established in this rule would continue in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated by USDA upon recommendation and other information submitted by the Board or other available information.

Although the assessment rates are effective for an indefinite period, the Board 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 rates. The dates and times of Board meetings are available from the Board or the USDA. Board meetings are open to the public and interested persons may express their views at these meetings. USDA would evaluate Board recommendations and other available information to determine whether modifications of the assessment rates are needed. Further rulemaking would be undertaken as necessary. The Board's 2002-2003 budget and those for subsequent fiscal periods would be reviewed and, as appropriate, approved by the USDA.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act and Effects on Small Businesses

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities and has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) allows AMS to certify that regulations do not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. However, as a matter of general policy, AMS's Fruit and Vegetable Programs (Programs) no longer opts for such certification, but rather performs regulatory flexibility analyses for any rulemaking that would generate the interest of a significant number of small entities. Performing such analyses shifts the Programs' efforts from determining whether regulatory flexibility analyses are required to the consideration of regulatory options and economic or regulatory impacts.

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 40 handlers of tart cherries who are subject to regulation under the order and approximately 900 producers of tart cherries in the regulated area. Small agricultural service firms have been defined by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts less than $5,000,000, and small agricultural producers are those whose annual receipts are less than $750,000. A majority of the tart cherry handlers and producers may be classified as small entities.

The Board unanimously recommended 2002-2003 expenditures of $522,500 and assessment rate increases from $0.00175 to $0.0021 per pound for cherries that are utilized in the production of tart cherry products other than juice, juice concentrate, or puree, and from $0.000875 to $0.00105 per pound for cherries utilized for juice, juice concentrate, or puree.

This rule would increase the assessment rate established for the Board and collected from handlers for the 2002-2003 and subsequent fiscal periods for cherries that are utilized in the production of tart cherry products other than juice, juice concentrate, or puree from $0.00175 to $0.0021 per pound, and the assessment rate for cherries utilized for juice, juice concentrate, or puree from $0.000875 to $0.00105 per pound. The Board unanimously recommended 2002-2003 expenditures of $522,500. The quantity of assessable tart cherries expected to be Start Printed Page 39639produced during the 2002-2003 crop year is estimated at 260 million pounds. Assessment income, based on this crop, along with interest income and reserves, would be adequate to cover budgeted expenses.

The major expenditures recommended by the Board for the 2002-2003 fiscal period include $85,000 for meetings, $170,000 for compliance, $185,000 for personnel, $80,000 for office expenses, and $2,500 for industry educational efforts. Budgeted expenses for those items in 2001-2002 were $80,000 for meetings, $100,000 for compliance, $185,000 for personnel, $75,000 for office expenses, and $2,500 for industry educational efforts, respectively.

The Board discussed the alternative of continuing the existing assessment rates, but concluded that would cause the amount in the operating reserve to be reduced to an unacceptable level.

The principal demand for tart cherries is in the form of processed products. Tart cherries are dried, frozen, canned, juiced, and pureed. Data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) states that during the period 1995/96 through 1999/00, approximately 91 percent of the U.S. tart cherry crop, or 280.5 million pounds, was processed annually. Of the 280.5 million pounds of tart cherries processed, 62 percent was frozen, 29 percent was canned, and 9 percent was utilized for juice.

Based on NASS data, acreage in the United States devoted to tart cherry production has been trending downward. In the ten-year period, 1987/88 through 1997/98, the tart cherry area decreased from 50,050 acres, to less than 40,000 acres. In 1999/00, approximately 90 percent of domestic tart cherry acreage was located in four States: Michigan, New York, Utah and Wisconsin. Michigan leads the nation in tart cherry acreage with 70 percent of the total. Michigan produces about 75 percent of the U.S. tart cherry crop each year. In 1999/00, tart cherry acreage in Michigan decreased to 28,100 acres from 28,400 acres the previous year.

In deriving the recommended assessment rates, the Board estimated assessable tart cherry production for the fiscal period at 260 million pounds. It further estimated that about 220 million pounds of the assessable poundage would be utilized in the production of high-valued products, like frozen, canned, or dried cherries, and that about 15 million pounds would be utilized in the production of low-valued products, like juice, juice concentrate, or puree. Potential assessment income from the high valued products would be approximately $462,000 (220 million pounds X $0.0021 per pound). The potential income from the tart cherries utilized for juice, juice concentrate, or puree would be $15,750 (15 million pounds X $0.00105 per pound). No assessment income would be received by the Board on approximately 25 million pounds of the projected production of 260 million pounds of tart cherries. Cherries used for export and other diversion outlets are exempt from assessment obligations. Therefore, total assessment income for 2002-2003 is estimated at $477,750. This amount plus adequate funds in the reserve and interest income should be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Funds in the reserve (approximately $233,000) will be kept within the approximately six months' operational expenses as recommended by the Board which would be consistent with the order (§ 930.42(a)).

While this action would impose additional costs on handlers, the costs are in the form of assessments which are applied uniformly. Some of the costs may also be passed on to producers. However, these costs are offset by the benefits derived from the operation of the marketing order. The Board's meeting was widely publicized throughout the tart cherry industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Board deliberations on all issues. Like all Board meetings, the January 24, 2002, 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 information on the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses.

This action would impose no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large tart cherry 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.

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/​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.

A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposed rule. Thirty days is deemed appropriate because: (1) The 2002-2003 fiscal period begins on July 1, 2002, and ends on June 30, 2003, and the marketing order requires that the rate of assessment for each fiscal period apply to all assessable tart cherries handled during such fiscal period; (2) the Board needs to have sufficient funds to pay its expenses which are incurred on a continuous basis; and (3) handlers are aware of this action which was unanimously recommended by the Board at a public meeting and is similar to other assessment rate actions issued in past years.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 930

End List of Subjects

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 930 is proposed to be amended as follows:

Start Part

PART 930—TART CHERRIES GROWN IN THE STATES OF MICHIGAN, NEW YORK, PENNSYLVANIA, OREGON, UTAH, WASHINGTON, AND WISCONSIN

1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 930 continues to read as follows:

Start Authority

Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601-674. 2. Section 930.200 is revised to read as follows:

End Authority
Handler assessment rate.

On and after July 1, 2002, the assessment rate imposed on handlers shall be $0.0021 per pound of cherries handled for tart cherries grown in the production area and utilized in the production of tart cherry products other than juice, juice concentrate, or puree. The assessment rate for juice, juice concentrate, and puree products shall be $0.00105 per pound.

Start Signature

Dated: June 4, 2002.

A.J. Yates,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 02-14405 Filed 6-7-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P