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Proposed Rule

Nectarines, Pears, and Peaches Grown in California; Continuance Referenda

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Referenda order.

SUMMARY:

This document directs that referenda be conducted among eligible growers of California nectarines, pears, and peaches to determine whether they favor continuance of the marketing orders regulating the handling of nectarines, pears, and peaches grown in the production area.

DATES:

The referenda will be conducted from January 6 through January 31, 2003. To vote in these referenda, growers must have been producing California nectarines, pears, and peaches during the period April 1 through November 30, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Copies of the marketing orders may be obtained from the office of the referenda agents at 2202 Monterey Street, Suite 102B, Fresno, California 93721, or the Office of the Docket Clerk, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kurt J. Kimmel or Terry Vawter, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Start Printed Page 77004Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2202 Monterey Street, Suite 102B, Fresno, California 93721; telephone (559) 487-5901; fax (559) 487-5906; or Kathleen Finn, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Stop 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; telephone (202) 720-2491; fax (202) 720-8938.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to Marketing Order No. 916 (7 CFR part 916) and Marketing Order No. 917 (7 CFR part 917), hereinafter referred to as the “orders,” and the applicable provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the “Act,” it is hereby directed that referenda be conducted to ascertain whether continuance of the orders is favored by growers. The referenda shall be conducted during the period January 6 through January 31, 2003, among California nectarine, pear, and peach growers in the production area. Only growers that were engaged in the production of California nectarines, pears, and peaches during the period of April 1 through November 30, 2002, may participate in the continuance referenda.

Although pears are included under the provisions of M.O. 917, those provisions have been suspended since April 1994. Since that time, the pear industry has been regulated by a State marketing order. If the results of the pear referendum do not favor continuance, the pear order will be terminated. Otherwise, this suspension will remain in effect unless the pear industry recommends reactivation of the federal program.

USDA has determined that continuance referenda are an effective means for determining whether growers favor continuation of marketing order programs. The USDA would consider termination of the orders if less than two-thirds of the growers voting in the referenda and growers of less than two-thirds of the volume of California nectarines, pears, and peaches represented in the referenda favor continuance. In evaluating the merits of continuance versus termination, the USDA will not only consider the results of the continuance referenda. The USDA will also consider all other relevant information concerning the operation of the orders and the relative benefits and disadvantages to growers, handlers, and consumers in order to determine whether continued operation of the orders would tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), the ballot materials used in the referenda herein ordered have been submitted to and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and have been assigned OMB No. 0581-0189 for nectarines, pears, and peaches. It has been estimated that it will take an average of 30 minutes for each of the approximately 2,130 growers of California nectarines, pears, and peaches to cast a ballot. Participation is voluntary. Ballots postmarked after January 31, 2003, will not be included in the vote tabulation.

Kurt J. Kimmel and Terry Vawter of the California Marketing Field Office, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, are hereby designated as the referenda agents of USDA to conduct such referenda. The procedure applicable to the referenda shall be the “Procedure for the Conduct of Referenda in Connection With Marketing Orders for Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts Pursuant to the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as Amended” (7 CFR part 900.400 et. seq).

Ballots will be mailed to all growers of record and may also be obtained from the referenda agents and from their appointees.

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List of Subjects

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

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Dated: December 9, 2002.

A. J. Yates,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 02-31582 Filed 12-13-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P