The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced today that the public hearing on proposed amendments to the federal marketing order for California walnuts will be held April 19-20, 2022. AMS will conduct the hearing using the ZOOM audio-video conferencing platform to enable individuals to participate in the hearing remotely.
The California Walnut Board recommended proposed amendments that would eliminate mandatory inspection, certification, and processing of shelled walnuts; create a new mechanism for collecting handler assessments based on inshell walnuts; add authority to charge and apply interest for late payments; and remove volume control authority. In addition, the proposed amendments include several conforming changes necessary to implement the proposed changes to the marketing order.
As recommended by the board, the hearing will enable the agency to gather evidence on the above proposed amendments to the Walnut Marketing Order. USDA welcomes interested parties to participate in the hearing through their own computer without gathering at a central location.
To testify and present evidence to the presiding judge, individuals must register by April 12, 2022, by emailing USDA at either Andrew Hatch at Andrew.Hatch@usda.gov or Geronimo Quinones at Geronimo.Quinones@usda.gov.
Individuals are free to access the hearing by video through https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1609318451. To access the on-line hearing by telephone, participants may dial one of the following phone numbers: 669-254-5252 or 646-828-7666 or 669-216-1590 or 551-285-1373. USDA will publish additional information and login instructions in the Federal Register and on its website before the hearing.
The board locally administers the marketing order that maintains minimum grade and size regulations for walnuts grown in California. The marketing order also authorizes promotion, and research and development projects.
The board recommended amending the marketing order to streamline its efficiency to better meet current and future industry needs. The board has expressed a belief the proposed amendments would eliminate current redundancies in inspection, reduce costs and administrative burden to handlers and the board, and provide a cost savings to producers. Evidence presented at the hearing would enable USDA to determine whether to move forward with the board’s recommendation.
Authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, marketing orders are industry-driven programs that help producers and handlers achieve marketing success by leveraging their own funds to design and execute programs that they would not be able to do individually. AMS provides oversight to 28 fruit vegetable and specialty crops marketing orders and agreements, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.
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