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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of December 10, 2019

Title 7Subtitle BChapter ISubchapter D → Part 81


Title 7: Agriculture


PART 81—PRUNE/DRIED PLUM DIVERSION PROGRAM


Contents
§81.1   Applicability.
§81.2   Administration.
§81.3   Definitions.
§81.4   Length of program.
§81.5   General requirements.
§81.6   Rate of payment; total payments.
§81.7   Eligibility for payment.
§81.8   Application and approval for participation.
§81.9   Inspection and certification of diversion.
§81.10   Claim for payment.
§81.11   Compliance with program provisions.
§81.12   Inspection of premises.
§81.13   Records and accounts.
§81.14   Offset, assignment, and prompt payment.
§81.15   Appeals.
§81.16   Refunds; joint and several liability.
§81.17   Death, incompetency, or disappearance.

Authority: 7 U.S.C. 612c.

Source: 67 FR 11391, Mar. 14, 2002, unless otherwise noted.

§81.1   Applicability.

Pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, as amended (7 U.S.C. 612c) (Section 32), the Secretary of Agriculture will make payment to California producers who divert prune/plums by removing trees on which the fruit is produced in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth herein.

§81.2   Administration.

The program will be administered under the direction and supervision of the Deputy Administrator, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and will be implemented by the Prune Marketing Committee (Committee). The Committee, or its authorized representatives, does not have authority to modify or waive any of the provisions of this subpart. Such power shall rest solely with the Administrator of AMS, or delegatee. The Administator or delegatee, in the Administrator's or delegatee's sole discretion can modify deadlines or other conditions, as needed or appropriate to serve the goals of the program. In all cases, payments under this part are subject to the availability of funds.

§81.3   Definitions.

(a) Administrator means the Administrator of AMS.

(b) AMS means the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(c) Application means “Application for Prune Tree Removal Program.”

(d) Committee means the Prune Marketing Committee established by the Secretary of Agriculture to locally administer Federal Marketing Order No. 993 (7 CFR Part 993), regulating the handling of dried prunes produced in California.

(e) Diversion means the removal of prune-plum trees after approval of applications by the Committee through June 30, 2002.

(f) Producer means an individual, partnership, association, or corporation in the State of California who grows prune/plums that are dehydrated into dried plums for market.

(g) Removal means that the prune-plum trees are no longer standing and capable of producing a crop, and the roots of the trees have been removed. The producer can accomplish removal by any means the producer desires. Grafting another type of tree to the rootstock remaining after removing the prune/plum tree would not qualify as removal under this program.

§81.4   Length of program.

Producers diverting prune/plums by removing prune-plum trees must complete the diversion no later than June 30, 2002.

§81.5   General requirements.

(a) To be eligible for this program, the trees to be removed must have yielded at least 1.5 tons of dried prune/plums per net-planted acre during the 1999 or 2000 crop year. A net-planted acre is the actual acreage planted with prune-plum trees. Abandoned orchards and dead trees will not qualify. In new orchards diverted, qualifying trees must be at least 5 years of age (6th leaf), contain at least two scaffolds, and be capable of producing at least 1.5 tons per net-planted acre. The block of trees for removal must be easily definable by separations from other blocks and contain at least 1,000 eligible trees or comprise an entire orchard.

(b) Any grower participating in this program must agree not to replant prune-plum trees on the land cleared under this program through June 30, 2004. Participants bear responsibility for ensuring that trees are not replanted, whether by themselves, or by successors to the land, or by others, until after June 30, 2004. If trees are replanted before June 30, 2004, by any persons, participants must refund any USDA payment, with interest, made in connection with this tree removal program.

§81.6   Rate of payment; total payments.

(a) The rate of payment for each eligible prune-plum tree removed will be $8.50 per tree.

(b) Payment under paragraph (a) of this section will be made after tree removal has been verified by the staff of the Committee.

(c) The $8.50 per tree payment shall be the total payment. USDA will make no other payment with respect to such removals. The producer will be responsible for arranging, requesting, and paying for the tree removal in the specified orchard blocks or orchard(s), as the case may be.

(d) Total payments under this program are limited to no more than $17,000,000. No additional expenditures shall be made, unless the Administrator or delegatee in their sole and exclusive discretion shall, in writing, declare otherwise.

§81.7   Eligibility for payment.

(a) If total applications for payment do not exceed $17,000,000, less administration costs, payments will be made under this program to any eligible producer of prune/plums who complies with the requirements in §81.8 and all other terms and conditions in this part.

(b) If applications for participation in the program authorized by this part exceed $17,000,000, less administration costs, the Committee will approve the applications (subject to the requirements in §81.8) in the order in which the completed applications are received in the Committee office up to the funding limit of $17,000,000, less administration costs, for the program. Any additional applications will be denied.

(c) The Administrator or his delegatee may set other conditions for payment, in addition to those provided for in this part, to the extent necessary to accomplish the goals of the program.

§81.8   Application and approval for participation.

(a) Applications will be reviewed for program compliance and approved or disapproved by Committee office personnel.

(b) Applications for participation in the Prune-Plum Diversion Program can be obtained from the Committee office at 3841 North Freeway Boulevard, Suite 120, Sacramento, California 95834; telephone (916) 565-6235.

(c) Any producer desiring to participate in the prune-plum diversion program must have filed an application with the Committee by January 31, 2002. The application shall be accompanied by a copy of any two of the following four documents: Plat Map from the County Hall of Records; Irrigation Tax Bill; County Property Tax Bill; or any other documents containing an Assessor's Parcel Number. Such application shall include at least the following information:

(1) The name, address, telephone number and tax identification number/social security number of the producer;

(2) The location and size of the production unit to be diverted;

(3) The prune/plum production from the orchard or portion of the orchard to be diverted during the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons;

(4) A statement that all persons with an equity interest in the prune/plums in the production unit to be diverted consent to the filing of the application. That is, the statement must show that the applicant has clear title to the property in question, and/or as needed, the statement must show an agreement to participate in the tree removal program from all lien or mortgage holders, and/or land owners, lessors, or similar parties with an interest in the property to the extent demanded by AMS or to the extent that such persons could object to the tree removal. However, obtaining such assent shall be the responsibility of the applicant who shall alone bear any responsibilities which may extend to third parties;

(5) A statement that the applicant agrees to comply with all of the regulations established for the prune/plum diversion program;

(6) A certification that the information contained in the application is true and correct;

(7) The year that the unit of prune/plums was planted;

(8) An identification of the handler(s) who received the prune/plums from the producer in the last two years.

(d) After the Committee receives the producer applications, it shall review them to determine whether all the required information has been provided and that the information appears reliable.

(e) As previously indicated, if the number of trees to be removed in such applications, multiplied by $8.50 per tree, exceeds the amount of funds available for the diversion program, each grower's application will be considered in the order in which they are received at the Committee office. AMS may reject any application for any reason, and its decisions are final.

(f) After the application reviews and confirmation of eligible trees are completed, the Committee shall notify the applicant, in writing, as to whether or not the application has been approved and the number of trees approved for payment after removal. If an application is not approved, the notification shall specify the reason(s) for disapproval. AMS shall be the final arbiter of which applications may be approved or rejected, and the final arbiter of any appeal.

§81.9   Inspection and certification of diversion.

When the removal of the prune-plum trees is complete, the producer(s) will notify the Committee on a form provided by the Committee. The Committee will certify that the trees approved for removal from the block or orchard, as the case may be, have been removed, and notify AMS.

§81.10   Claim for payment.

(a) To obtain payment for the trees removed, the producer must submit to the Committee by June 30, 2002, a completed form provided by the Committee. Such form shall include the Committee's certification that the qualifying trees from the blocks or orchards have been removed. If all other conditions for payment are met, AMS will then issue a check to the producer in the amount of $8.50 per eligible tree removed.

(b) [Reserved]

§81.11   Compliance with program provisions.

If USDA on its own, or on the advice of the Committee, determines that any provision of this part have not been complied with by the producer, the producer will not be entitled to diversion payments in connection with tree removal. If a producer does not comply with the terms of this part, including the requirement specified in §81.5(b), the producer must refund, with interest, any USDA payment made in connection with such tree removal, and will also be liable to USDA for any other damages incurred as a result of such failure. The Committee or USDA may deny any producer the right to participate in this program or the right to receive or retain payments in connection with any diversion previously made under this program, or both, if the Committee or USDA determines that:

(a) The producer has failed to properly remove the prune/plum trees from the applicable block or the whole orchard regardless of whether such failure was caused directly by the producer or by any other person or persons;

(b) The producer has not acted in good faith in connection with any activity under this program; or

(c) The producer has failed to discharge fully any obligation assumed by, or charged to, him or her under this program.

§81.12   Inspection of premises.

The producer must permit authorized representatives of USDA or the Committee, at any reasonable time, to have access to their premises to inspect and examine the orchard block where trees were removed and records pertaining to the orchard to determine compliance with the provisions of this part.

§81.13   Records and accounts.

(a) The producers participating in this program must keep accurate records and accounts showing the details relative to the prune/plum tree removal, including the contract entered into with the firm or person removing the trees, as well as the invoices.

(b) The producers must permit authorized representatives of USDA, the Committee, and the General Accounting Office, or their delegatees, at any reasonable time to inspect, examine, and make copies of such records and accounts to determine compliance with provisions of this part. Such records and accounts must be retained for two years after the date of payment to the producer under the program, or for two years after the date of any audit of records by USDA, whichever is later. Any destruction of records by the producer at any time will be at the risk of the producer when there is reason to know, believe, or suspect that matters may be or could be in dispute or remain in dispute.

§81.14   Offset, assignment, and prompt payment.

(a) Any payment or portion thereof due any person under this part shall be allowed without regard to questions of title under State law, and without regard to any claim or lien against the crop proceeds thereof in favor of the producer or any other creditors except agencies of the U.S. Government.

(b) Payments which are earned by a producer under this program may be assigned in the same manner as allowed under the provisions of 7 CFR part 1404.

(c) Prompt payment interest from AMS will not be applicable.

§81.15   Appeals.

Any producer who is dissatisfied with a determination made pursuant to this part may make a request for reconsideration or appeal of such determination. The Deputy Administrator of Fruit and Vegetable Programs shall establish the procedure for such appeals.

§81.16   Refunds; joint and several liability.

(a) In the event there is a failure to comply with any term, requirement, or condition for payment arising under the application of this part, and if any refund of a payment to AMS shall otherwise become due in connection with the application of this part, all payments made under this part to any producer shall be refunded to AMS together with interest.

(b) All producers signing an application for payment as having an interest in such payment shall be jointly and severally liable for any refund, including related charges, that is determined to be due for any reason under the terms and conditions of the application of this part.

(c) Interest shall be applicable to refunds required of any producer under this part if AMS determines that payments or other assistance were provided to a producer who was not eligible for such assistance. Such interest shall be charged at the rate of interest that the United States Treasury charges the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for funds, as of the date AMS made benefits available. Such interest shall accrue from the date of repayment or the date interest increases as determined in accordance with applicable regulations. AMS may waive the accrual of interest if AMS was at fault for the overpayment.

(d) Interest allowable in favor of AMS in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section may be waived when there was no intentional noncompliance on the part of the producer, as determined by AMS. Such decision to waive or not waive the interest shall be at the discretion of the Administrator or delegatee.

(e) Late payment interest shall be assessed on all refunds in accordance with the provisions of, and subject to the rates prescribed for those claims which are addressed in 7 CFR part 792.

(f) Producers must refund to AMS any excess payments, as determined by AMS, with respect to such application.

(g) In the event that a benefit under this part was provided as the result of erroneous information provided by the producer, or was erroneously or improperly paid for any other reason, the benefit must be repaid with any applicable interest.

§81.17   Death, incompetency, or disappearance.

In the case of death, incompetency, disappearance, or dissolution of a prune/plum producer that is eligible to receive benefits in accordance with this part, such person or persons who would, under 7 CFR part 707 be eligible for payments and benefits covered by that part, may receive the tree-removal benefits otherwise due the actual producer.

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