The Vermont Statutes Online
- Subchapter 001: General Provisions
§ 250. Legislative declaration
It is hereby declared that the inability of individual producers to develop new and larger markets for agricultural commodities results in an unreasonable and unnecessary economic waste of the agricultural wealth of this State. These conditions and the accompanying waste jeopardize the future continued production of adequate food supplies for the people of this and other states. These conditions vitally concern the health, safety, and general welfare of the people in this State. It is therefore declared the legislative purpose and the policy of this State:
(1) to enable agricultural producers of this State, with the aid of the State, to more effectively correlate the marketing of their agricultural commodities with market demands;
(2) to establish orderly, efficient, and equitable marketing of agricultural commodities;
(3) to provide methods and means for the development of new and larger markets for agricultural commodities produced in Vermont;
(4) to eliminate or reduce the economic waste in the marketing of agricultural commodities; and
(5) to eliminate unjust impairment of the purchasing power of the agricultural producers of this State. (Added 1983, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1993, No. 73, § 1, eff. June 10, 1993.)
§ 251. Definitions
For the purposes of this chapter:
(1) "Agricultural commodity" means any agricultural commodity, including: apples, horticultural crops, fruits and vegetables, poultry, maple syrup, Christmas trees, livestock, and honey, either in their natural state or as processed by the producer. The term does not include milk, timber, or timber products, other than Christmas trees.
(2) "Producer" means any individual, partnership, corporation, or other business entity engaged within this State in the business of producing an agricultural commodity or causing an agricultural commodity to be produced for any market. The term shall only apply to persons who are not exempt under a marketing rule which gives special consideration to exemptions for small producers.
(3) "Handler" means any person engaged in the operation of packing, grading, selling, offering for sale, or marketing any marketable agricultural commodities, who as owner, agent, or otherwise ships or causes an agricultural commodity to be shipped.
(4) "Processor" means any person engaged within this State in processing, or in the operation of receiving, grading, packing, canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting, distilling, extracting, preserving, grinding, crushing, or in any other way preserving or changing the form of agricultural commodities for the purpose of marketing this commodity, but shall not include a person engaged in manufacturing a different product from an agricultural commodity.
(5) "Distributor" means any person engaged within this State in selling, offering for sale, marketing, or distributing agricultural commodities which he or she has purchased or acquired from a producer or other person or which he or she is marketing on behalf of a producer or other person, whether as owner, agent, employee, broker, or otherwise, but shall not include a retailer, except a retailer who purchases or acquires from, or handles on behalf of, any producer or other person an agricultural commodity subject to regulation by the marketing agreement or order covering the commodity.
(6) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets or his or her designee.
(7) "Marketing rule" means a rule issued by the Board or commission pursuant to this chapter prescribing rules governing the marketing for processing, the distribution, the sale of, or the handling in any manner of any agricultural commodity sold in this State during any specified period.
(8) "Wholesale" means the act of selling to retail vendors, commission merchants, producers, wholesalers, handlers, processors, distributors, institutional users, or commercial users mainly for resale or business use.
(9) "Board" means the Vermont Apple Marketing Board established by section 252 of this title.
(10) "Bushel" means 40 pounds.
(11) "Commodity marketing board" or "marketing board" means any agricultural commodity marketing board established under section 253a of this title. (Added 1983, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1985, No. 41, § 1, eff. May 11, 1985; 1993, No. 73, § 1, eff. June 10, 1993; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)
- Subchapter 002: Vermont Apple Marketing Board
§§ 252, 253. Repealed. 2013, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.
- Subchapter 003: Agricultural Commodity Marketing Boards
§ 253a. Vermont agricultural commodity marketing boards
(a) The Secretary may at his or her initiative, or upon receipt of a petition from producers of a particular agricultural commodity, propose a marketing rule. Any petition shall be signed by at least 100 of the producers who would be affected by the rule, or at least 25 percent of all the producers of the commodity in question, whichever is less.
(b) After determining that a valid petition has been filed, the Secretary shall prepare and mail a proposed marketing rule. After an opportunity for a hearing, the Secretary shall conduct a referendum of the affected producers. The marketing rule shall be approved by at least 51 percent of the eligible producers who participate in the referendum before it may be promulgated.
(c) Any marketing rule established under this section shall create a commodity marketing board, to be appointed by the Secretary. This board shall be made up of persons nominated by producers of the affected agricultural commodity and a representative of the Secretary. The rule shall establish the number of members of the commodity marketing board, not to exceed seven, and shall provide for their terms of office. Commission members shall be reimbursed in the same manner as members of the board.
(d) Any marketing rule established under this section may contain all the same terms and conditions as a rule established under section 253 of this title. Any commodity marketing board established under this section shall have all the same powers and duties as the Apple Marketing Board, with respect to the affected commodity.
(e) Once a marketing rule has been established, it can be amended or terminated at any time by the applicable commodity marketing board after approval by 51 percent of the voting eligible producers. In addition, 25 percent or more of the eligible producers may petition to have a marketing rule amended or terminated, after approval of not less than 51 percent of producers participating in a referendum vote. (Added 1993, No. 73, § 1, eff. June 10, 1993; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)
- Subchapter 004: Administration
§ 254. Authority of the Secretary
(a) The Secretary shall conduct any referenda held under this chapter and shall be the final arbiter of referenda results. He or she shall be responsible for the administration of any marketing rules, provided that funding is available.
(b) The Secretary, with the prior approval of the Board or commission at the time of the first filing under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, may make and adopt such rules as may be necessary to effectuate the provisions and intent of this chapter and to enforce the provision of any marketing rule, all of which shall have the effect of law. No other approval of the Board or commission shall be necessary with respect to the adoption of rules. Rulemaking shall be commenced only after approval in a referendum by the affected producers.
(c) The Secretary shall prepare a budget, subject to the approval of the applicable board or commission, for the administration and operating costs and expenses, including advertising and sales promotion or other programs and research when required in any marketing rule, and to provide for the collection of necessary fees to defray costs and expenses. The budget shall provide that the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets be reimbursed for its actual costs of administering the program, but the reimbursement shall not exceed five percent of the total funds collected under the marketing rule.
(d) The Secretary may institute an action as may appear necessary to enforce compliance with any provision of this chapter. The application may be made to the Superior Court in the county in which the producer resides or has his or her place of business.
(e) The Secretary may bring a civil action against any producer who is delinquent in making payments required by a marketing rule. In connection with the civil action, the Secretary may seek and enforce a writ of attachment against property of the delinquent producer.
(f) All information required by a marketing order shall be provided in an accurate and timely manner. Any person who knowingly provides false or incomplete information to the Apple Marketing Board or to a commodity marketing board shall be subject to the provisions of 13 V.S.A. § 3016, regardless of whether there was an intent to defraud.
(g) The Secretary may inspect the records of any person who produces a commodity that is the subject of a marketing rule in order to determine whether that person is subject to the marketing rule. He or she may also audit the financial records of producers subject to a marketing rule. The Secretary shall have the authority to issue subpoenas to producers, handlers, processors, and distributors to gain information necessary to carry out the purposes of a marketing order.
(h) All production data and financial information relating to an individual producer shall be kept confidential by the Secretary and the Apple Marketing Board, or commodity marketing board, except for use in a collection action and for other law enforcement purposes. Compilations of data relative to groups of individuals may be made public. (Added 1983, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1993, No. 73, § 1, eff. June 10, 1993; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)
§ 255. Eligibility of producers; conduct of referendum
(a) Only persons who verify pursuant to this section that they are producers shall be eligible to vote in a referendum. The Secretary shall prepare a list of all persons believed to be producers. At least 28 days prior to the referendum, he or she shall mail to each person on the list a notice of the referendum, and a statement on which each person may verify that he or she is a producer within the meaning of this chapter. The Secretary shall also cause to be published the notice and verification statement in two newspapers of general circulation throughout the State on the same day for two successive weeks, the last date of publication to be at least 28 days prior to the date of the referendum. The notice shall also state that no producer shall be eligible to vote unless he or she returns the verification statement to the Secretary postmarked at least 10 days prior to the date of the referendum. A referendum shall not be considered invalid because a producer is unknown to the Secretary or does not receive notification.
(b) Upon receipt of signed verifications, the Secretary shall forthwith mail ballots to all producers who have verified their eligibility to vote. Those producers shall mark their ballots and return them to the Secretary either by hand no later than 10 days after the referendum date or by mail postmarked no later than 10 days after the referendum date.
(c) The Secretary shall count the ballots and release the results to the public.
(d) The results of any referendum shall bind all producers regardless of whether they voted, or were eligible to vote, in the referendum. The results shall also bind persons who become producers thereafter.
(e) Prior to the issuance, amendment, or termination of any marketing rule, the Secretary may require the applicant to deposit with the Agency an amount determined by the Secretary to defray the expense of conducting the referendum. The funds shall be managed as provided by section 256 of this title. If the proposed market rule action is approved in a referendum, the Secretary shall return any unexpended monies collected to the applicant. (Added 1985, No. 41, § 3, eff. May 11, 1985; amended 1993, No. 73, § 1, eff. June 10, 1993; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)
§ 256. Marketing Rule Fund
(a) A special administrative fund, to be known as the Marketing Rule Fund, is created for the purpose of holding monies collected by the Secretary under this chapter. The fund shall be organized and managed in accordance with 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5 (special funds). Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 588(3), interest earned by the Fund shall be credited to and retained by the Fund and annually carried forward as part of the Fund balance.
(b) Any monies remaining in the Fund at the close of a marketing season may, at the discretion of the applicable board, be refunded on a pro rata basis to all producers from whom the money was collected.
(c) Upon the termination of any marketing rule, the Secretary shall refund on a pro rata basis to all applicable producers any monies remaining and not required to defray the cost of operating the marketing rule, except when the cost of administering the refund would exceed the monies available. (Added 1993, No. 73, § 1, eff. June 10, 1993; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)