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Notice

Notice of Request for Extension and Revision of a Currently Approved Information Collection

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice and request for comments.

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), this notice announces the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) intention to request an extension and revision to a currently approved generic information collection for marketing orders covering fruit crops.

DATES:

Comments on this notice must be received by June 1, 2004.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Contact Caroline C. Thorpe, Marketing Specialist, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, room 2525-S., Washington, DC 20250-6456; Tel: (202) 205-2829, Fax: (202) 720-5698, or E-mail: moab.docketclerk@usda.gov or http://www.regulations.gov.

Small businesses may request information on this notice by contacting Jay Guerber, Regulatory Fairness Representative, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., STOP 0237, room 2525-S, Washington, DC 20250-6456; telephone (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-5698, or E-mail: Jay.Guerber@usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Title: Marketing Orders for Fruit Crops.

OMB Number: 0581-0189.

Expiration Date of Approval: July 31, 2004. Start Printed Page 16515

Type of Request: Extension and Revision of a currently approved information collection.

Abstract: Marketing order programs provide an opportunity for producers of fresh fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, in specified production areas, to work together to solve marketing problems that cannot be solved individually. This notice covers the following marketing order program citations 7 CFR parts 905, 906, 915, 916, 917, 920, 922, 923, 924, 925, 927, 929, and 931. Order regulations help ensure adequate supplies of high quality product and adequate returns to producers. Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (Act), as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674) industries enter into marketing order programs. The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to oversee the order operations and issue regulations recommended by a committee of representatives from each commodity industry.

The information collection requirements in this request are essential to carry out the intent of the Act, to provide the respondents the type of service they request, and to administer the marketing order programs. Under the Act, orders may authorize the following: Production and marketing research, including paid advertising; volume regulations; reserves, including pools and producer allotments; container regulations; and quality control. Assessments are levied on handlers regulated under the marketing orders.

Several forms are required to be filed by USDA to enable its administration of each program. These include forms covering the selection process for industry members to serve on a marketing order's committee or board and ballots used in referenda to amend or continue marketing order programs.

Under Federal marketing orders, producers and handlers are nominated by their peers to serve as representatives on a committee or board which administers each program. Nominees must provide information on their qualifications to serve on the committee or board. Nominees are selected by the Secretary. Formal rulemaking amendments must be approved in referenda conducted by USDA and the Secretary. For the purposes of this action, ballots are considered information collections and are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act. If an order is amended, handlers are asked to sign an agreement indicating their willingness to abide by the provisions of the amended order.

Some forms are required to be filed with the committee or board. The orders and their rules and regulations authorize the respective commodities' committees and boards, the agencies responsible for local administration of the orders, to require handlers and producers to submit certain information. Much of the information is compiled in aggregate and provided to the respective industries to assist in marketing decisions. The committees and boards have developed forms as a means for persons to file required information relating to supplies, shipments, and dispositions of their respective commodities, and other information needed to effectively carry out the purpose of the Act and their respective orders, and these forms are utilized accordingly.

The forms covered under this information collection require the minimum information necessary to effectively carry out the requirements of the orders, and their use is necessary to fulfill the intent of the Act as expressed in the orders rules and regulations.

The information collected is used only by authorized employees of the committees and authorized representatives of the USDA, including AMS, Fruit and Vegetable Programs' regional and headquarter's staff. Authorized committee or board employees are the primary users of the information and AMS is the secondary user.

Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average .22 hours per response.

Respondents: Producers, handlers and processors.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 19,576.

Estimated Number of Responses: 38,058.

Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.96.

Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 8,579 hours.

Once this information collection is approved, OMB Control No. 0581-0177 Tart Cherries, will be merged into the Fruit Crops information collection package.

Comments: Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of the information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments should reference this docket number and the appropriate marketing order, and be mailed to the Docket Clerk, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. S.W., STOP 0237, room 2525-S, Washington, DC 20090-6456; Fax (202) 720-5698; or E-mail: moab.docketclerk@usda.gov or http://www.regulations.gov. Comments should reference the docket number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. All comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular USDA business hours at 1400 Independence Ave. SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC, room 2525-S, or can be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/​fv/​moab.html.

All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

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Dated: March 25, 2004.

A. J. Yates,

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 04-7039 Filed 3-29-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P