WSR 97-02-098

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

[Filed January 2, 1997, 11:08 a.m.]

Supplemental Notice to WSR 96-23-034.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 96-09-090.

Title of Rule: Rules relating to standards for asparagus, chapter 16-409 WAC.

Purpose: Improve the marketing of fresh asparagus by upgrading the Washington consumer pack grade standards.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: Chapter 15.17 RCW.

Statute Being Implemented: Chapter 15.17 RCW.

Summary: See Explanation of Rule below.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Bob Gonzales, P.O. Box 2560, Olympia, WA 98504-2560, (360) 902-1832; Implementation and Enforcement: Jim Quigley, P.O. Box 2560, Olympia, WA 98504-2560, (360) 902-1833.

Name of Proponent: Washington Asparagus Commission, J. Michael Harker, Administrator, public.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: The purpose of the rule is to upgrade the existing Washington consumer pack grade requirements for stalks to be fairly well trimmed, fairly uniform in length, and at least eighty-five percent of the stalk to be green in color. The rule proposal is to improve and enhance the marketing of fresh Washington asparagus by providing consumers with an improved, uniform product. The effect of this proposal will not have a significant impact on the packing process for this grade. The existing process involves cutting of the stalks, with the field cutter continually checking to insure that the amount of green color is maintained for each stalk. The proposal would require additional checks; (1) each stalk to be fairly well trimmed (at least one-third of the butt of the stalk is smoothly trimmed in a plane approximately parallel to the bottom of the container), (2) fairly uniform in length (stalks within a container shall not vary more than one and one-half inches in length). If the grower packs to the proposed grade in the field, the grower would need to instruct and educate the field cutters of the requirements for this grade. The proposal would involve additional time, both in the harvesting and packing process. The Washington consumer pack grade is primarily marketed in-state; and this proposal will enable the in-state consumer to purchase a more uniform quality product. According to industry input, this proposal may assist in deterring a perception on the part of in-state consumers that quality asparagus is only made available to out-of-state and export markets.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: This proposal changes the existing Washington consumer pack grade by requiring stalks of asparagus packed to be fairly well trimmed, fairly uniform in length, and at least eighty-five percent of the stalk to be green in color. Currently, asparagus cut and packed have no trim requirements of the stalks, stalks may be packed in random lengths in the container, and the stalks are allowed 1-1/2 inches of white color.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. As stated above, the proposal does not have a significant impact on the packing process for this grade. Since the current process involves the cutting of asparagus stalks and packing of the product, cutters will need to be advised of the new requirements and to pack the containers so the stalks are fairly uniform in length.

Section 201, chapter 403, Laws of 1995, does not apply to this rule adoption. The Washington State Department of Agriculture is not a listed agency in section 201.

Hearing Location: On February 5, 1997, at 1:00 p.m., TRAC, Road 68, Exit #9, Pasco, WA 99301; and on February 6, 1997, at 1:00 p.m., Agricultural Service Center, 2015 South First Street, Yakima, WA 98903.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Cathy Jensen by January 31, 1996 [1997], TDD (360) 902-1996, or (360) 902-1976.

Submit Written Comments to: Jim Quigley, Program Manager, Washington State Department of Agriculture Commodity Inspection Division, P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, WA 98504-2560, FAX (360) 902-2085, by February 6, 1997.

Date of Intended Adoption: February 17, 1996 [1997].

January 2, 1997

William E. Brookreson

Assistant Director

AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending Order 6008, filed 12/17/96)

WAC 16-409-020 Washington standards -- Grades. (1) Washington extra fancy shall consist of:

(a) Clean, fresh stalks of asparagus, fairly uniform in length, well trimmed, fairly straight, not wilted, and which are free from decay and damage caused by spreading or broken tips, dirt, disease, insects, or mechanical or other means. Stalks shall have at least eighty-five percent green color.

(b) Stalks within individual containers shall meet one of the following designated sizes: Jumbo, large, or standard.

(2) Washington extra fancy tips shall consist of:

(a) Clean, fresh stalks of asparagus, fairly uniform in length, well trimmed, fairly straight, not wilted, and which are free from decay and damage caused by spreading or broken tips, dirt, disease, insects, or mechanical or other means. Stalks shall be all green.

(b) Stalks within the individual containers shall meet one of the following designated sizes: Jumbo, large, standard, or small.

(3) Washington fancy shall consist of:

(a) Clean, fresh stalks of asparagus, fairly uniform in length, fairly well trimmed, not wilted and not badly misshapen, and which are free from decay and serious damage caused by spreading or broken tips, dirt, disease, insects, mechanical or other means. Stalks shall have at least eighty-five percent green color.

(b) Each stalk shall have a diameter of not less than four-sixteenths inch.

(4) Washington consumer pack shall consist of:

(a) Clean, fresh stalks of asparagus ((and may be of random length)), fairly uniform in length, fairly well trimmed, which are fairly straight, not wilted and which are free from decay and damage caused by spreading or broken tips, dirt, disease, insects, mechanical or other means. Stalks shall ((show not more than one and one-half inches of white)) have at least eighty-five percent green color.

(b) Each stalk shall have a diameter of not less than four-sixteenths inch.

(5) Culls.

(a) Asparagus which is not graded in conformity with Washington extra fancy, Washington extra fancy tips, Washington fancy, Washington consumer pack, or U.S. No. 1, or U.S. No. 2 shall be designated as "culls."

(b) Culls shall not be marketed if more than ten percent by count of the stalks show white in excess of two inches.

(6) Any lot of fresh asparagus, including "culls" marketed within the state of Washington, shall have not more than ten percent of stalks with white in excess of two inches, nor more than ten percent of stalks which are less than four-sixteenths inch in diameter.

[Statutory Authority: Chapter 15.17 RCW. 97-01-081 (Order 6008), 16-409-020, filed 12/17/96, effective 1/17/97; 85-07-028 (Order 1848), 16-409-020, filed 3/15/85; 83-06-049 (Order 1787), 16-409-020, filed 3/1/83; Order 795, Regulation 2(1), (2), effective 2/16/60.]

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