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Oranges and Grapefruit Grown in Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas; Decreased Assessment Rate

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 13967

AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Affirmation of interim rule as final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that implemented a recommendation from the Texas Valley Citrus Committee (Committee) to decrease the assessment rate established for the 2015-16 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.11 to $0.08 per 7/10-bushel carton or equivalent of oranges and grapefruit handled under the marketing order (order). The Committee locally administers the order and is comprised of producers and handlers of oranges and grapefruit operating within the area of production. The interim rule decreased the assessment rate to more closely align assessment income to the lower budgeted expenses.

DATES:

Effective March 17, 2016.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Abigail Campos, Marketing Specialist, or Christian D. Nissen, Regional Director, Southeast Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (863) 324-3375, Fax: (863) 291-8614, or Email: Abigail.Campos@ams.usda.gov or Christian.Nissen@ams.usda.gov.

Small businesses may obtain information on complying with this and other marketing order regulations by viewing a guide at the following Web site: http://www.ams.usda.gov/​rules-regulations/​moa/​small-businesses; or by contacting Antoinette Carter, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: Antoinette.Carter@ams.usda.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This rule is issued under Marketing Agreement and Order No. 906, as amended (7 CFR part 906), regulating the handling of oranges and grapefruit grown in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, hereinafter referred to as the “order.” The order is 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 Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.

Under the order, orange and grapefruit handlers are subject to assessments, which provide funds to administer the order. Assessment rates issued under the order are intended to be applicable to all assessable oranges and grapefruit for the entire fiscal period, and continue indefinitely until amended, suspended, or terminated. The Committee's fiscal period begins on August 1, and ends on July 31.

In an interim rule published in the Federal Register on November 16, 2015, and effective on November 17, 2015, (80 FR 70669, Doc. No. AMS-FV-15-0035; FV15-906-1 IR), § 906.235 was amended by decreasing the assessment rate established for Texas citrus for the 2015-2016 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.11 to $0.08 per 7/10-bushel carton or equivalent handled. The decrease in the assessment rate more closely aligns assessment income to the lower budget.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), 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 businesses 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.

There are approximately 170 producers of oranges and grapefruit in the production area and 13 handlers subject to regulation under the marketing order. The Small Business Administration defines small agricultural producers as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000, and small agricultural service firms are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $7,500,000 (13 CFR 121.201).

According to Committee data and information from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the weighted average grower price for Texas citrus during the 2013-14 season was around $13.89 per box and total shipments were near 7.4 million boxes. Using the weighted average price and shipment information, and assuming a normal distribution, the majority of growers would have annual receipts of less than $750,000. In addition, based on available information, the majority of handlers have annual receipts of less than $7,500,000 and could be considered small businesses under SBA's definition. Thus, the majority of Texas citrus producers and handlers may be classified as small entities.

This rule continues in effect the action that decreased the assessment rate established for the Committee and collected from handlers for the 2015-16 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.11 to $0.08 per 7/10-bushel carton or equivalent of Texas citrus. The Committee unanimously recommended 2015-16 expenditures of $701,148 and an assessment rate of $0.08 per 7/10-bushel carton or equivalent handled. The assessment rate of $0.08 is $0.03 lower than the previous rate. The quantity of assessable oranges and grapefruit for the 2015-16 fiscal period is estimated at 8 million 7/10-bushel cartons or equivalent. Thus, the $0.08 rate should provide $640,000 in assessment income. Income derived from handler assessments along with interest income and funds from Committee's authorized reserve, will be adequate to cover budgeted expenses. Start Printed Page 13968The Committee considered its expenses and recommended decreasing the assessment rate to more closely align assessment income to the lower budget.

This rule continues in effect the action that decreased the assessment obligation imposed on handlers. Assessments are applied uniformly on all handlers and decreasing the assessment rate reduces the burden on handlers.

In addition, the Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout the Texas citrus industry and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the June 24, 2015, meeting was a public meeting and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on this issue.

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the order's information collection requirements have been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB No. 0581-0189 “Generic Fruit Crops.” No changes in those requirements as a result of this action are necessary. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval.

This action imposes no additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large Texas orange and grapefruit 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.

Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or before January 15, 2016. No comments were received. Therefore, for reasons given in the interim rule, we are adopting the interim rule as a final rule, without change.

To view the interim rule, go to: http://www.regulations.gov/​#!documentDetail;​D=​AMS-FV-15-0035-0001.

This action also affirms information contained in the interim rule concerning Executive Orders 12866, 12988, 13175, and 13563; the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35); and the E-Gov Act (44 U.S.C. 101).

After consideration of all relevant material presented, it is found that finalizing the interim rule, without change, as published in the Federal Register (80 FR 70669, November 16, 2015) will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 906

  • Grapefruit
  • Marketing agreements
  • Oranges
  • Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
End List of Subjects Start Part

PART 906—ORANGES AND GRAPEFRUIT GROWN IN LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY IN TEXAS

End Part Start Amendment Part

Accordingly, the interim rule amending 7 CFR part 906, which was published at 80 FR 70669 on November 16, 2015, is adopted as a final rule, without change.

End Amendment Part Start Signature

Dated: March 10, 2016.

Elanor Starmer,

Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2016-05841 Filed 3-15-16; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P