The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is seeking comments on a proposed rule to change the boundaries of all the districts and add two importer seats to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

At least every five years, the Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan requires changes in the rule based on a review of watermelon production, the amount of assessments paid in each of the current districts and changes to the number of importer seats.

Under this realignment, each district would represent, on average, 16 percent of total U.S. production. The percentage of assessments paid by importers increased by 29 percent and the number of importers represented on the board would increase by two. Therefore, the composition of the board would consist of 37 members: 14 producers, 14 handlers, 8 importers, and 1 public member.

The following vacancies are created: one producer vacancy in District 2; one handler vacancy in District 3; one producer vacancy in District 7; and two importer vacancies.

A 30-day comment period is provided for public comment on the proposal. Comments must be received by June 6, 2011. Comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov; mailed to Research and Promotion Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Department of Agriculture, Stop 0244, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-0244; faxed to (202) 205-2800 or e-mailed to Jeanette.Palmer@ams.usda.gov.

Copies of the proposed rule may be requested from the same mailing address or by telephone at (888) 720-9917 during regular business hours. The proposed rule is also available at www.regulations.gov and on the AMS website at www.ams.usda.gov/FVPromotion.

AMS monitors the operations of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in accordance with the Watermelon Research and Promotion Act of 1985, the Board administers an industry-funded national research and promotion program to maintain and expand markets for watermelons.

More information about the research and promotion programs can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/fv/rpb.html.