(1) Existing law prohibits a person from acting on behalf of a processor to contract for or solicit a farm product from a producer of the farm product, or to negotiate the purchase of a farm product on behalf of a processor, and from acting as a processor or a cash buying processor, unless the person has first obtained a license from the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, as specified. Existing law requires a person engaged in the business of buying, receiving on consignment, soliciting for sale on commission, or negotiating the sale of farm products from a licensee or producer for resale to be licensed by the secretary. Existing law requires each applicant for a license to pay to the Department of Food and Agriculture a fee in accordance with a fee schedule for each kind of license that contains specified tiers determined by the annual dollar volume of business based on farm product values.
This bill would raise those license fees by specified amounts and add another tier to the fee schedule for each kind of license.
(2) Existing law requires that revenues from the above-described fees adequately cover the costs to fully administer and operate the licensing program in an effective and efficient manner. Under existing law, the fees provided in the fee schedule for each kind of license are the maximum fees the department is authorized to charge. Existing law authorizes the secretary to fix those fees at a lesser amount, and to adjust those fees, if the secretary finds that the cost of administering the licensing program can be defrayed with those below-maximum fees.
The bill would instead authorize the secretary to undertake those actions if the secretary finds that the cost of administering the applicable licensing program must be adjusted for the sustainability of the program.
(3) Existing law authorizes the secretary to appoint an advisory committee of producers and licensees to provide guidance in establishing those fees for each kind of license or to rely on input from any similar advisory committee already assembled by the secretary.
The bill would delete those provisions and instead establish the Market Enforcement Advisory Committee in the department to advise the secretary and make recommendations on, among other things, all matters pertaining to the above-described licensing programs, including setting the appropriate fees for those programs. The bill would require that the advisory board consist of 12 voting members, appointed by the secretary, including a balanced representation of growers, processors, and produce dealers, as provided, and that the term for each member be 3 years. The bill would require the committee to follow specified rules for a meeting held by teleconference.
(4) Existing law authorizes an aggrieved grower or licensee under provisions relating to both processors of farm products and produce dealers, with a complaint not subject to certain federal laws, to seek resolution of the complaint by filing a complaint with the department, as provided, and paying a $100 filing fee.
This bill would raise the filing fees under the provisions relating to processors of farm products and the provisions relating to produce dealers by imposing a graduated fee schedule, with a maximum of $500, depending on the amount due alleged in the complaint.
(5) Existing law requires all of the above-described fees to be deposited into the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund, which is continuously appropriated, as prescribed.
By increasing the amount of existing fees, the revenue from which is continuously appropriated, the bill would make an appropriation. The bill would also make an appropriation by authorizing continuously appropriated moneys derived from specified licenses to be used for purposes of the Market Enforcement Advisory Committee.
(6) Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.
This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

Statutes affected:
SB1270: 55601 FAC
02/15/24 - Introduced: 55601 FAC
03/18/24 - Amended Senate: 221 FAC, 55433 FAC, 55722.5 FAC, 55861 FAC, 55861.5 FAC, 56133 FAC, 56382.5 FAC, 56571 FAC, 56571.5 FAC, 55601 FAC
SB 1270: 55601 FAC