Florida tomato growers and handlers face a higher marketing order assessment rate.

In a rule published July 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased the assessment paid to the Florida Tomato Committee from 2.75 cents per 25-pound carton of tomatoes to 3.7 cents per carton.

The assessment, first proposed in April, will become effective July 27 and will remain in effect indefinitely.

The Florida Tomato Committee requested the increase last year to meet budget needs after estimating a 2011-12 crop of 35 million cartons, down from 45 million cartons estimated the previous season. The committee’s budget in 2011-12 was estimated at $1.49 million, according to the USDA.

The USDA said major expenditures for the group in 2011-12 include $575,000 for education and promotion, $436,372 for salaries, $250,000 for research, and $64,000 for office space.

The agency said about 100 producers and 80 handlers of tomatoes are subject to the regulation.