1997 Regular Session
To: Agriculture; Finance
By: Senator(s) Thames
Senate Bill 3190
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE AGRICULTURAL COMMERCIALIZATION PROGRAM TO BE ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROMOTING THE DEVELOPMENT AND EXPANSION OF VALUE-ADDED AGRIBUSINESSES IN THIS STATE; TO CREATE THE AGRIBUSINESS COMMERCIALIZATION FUND; TO PROVIDE THAT MONIES IN SUCH FUND SHALL BE USED TO MAKE GRANTS TO, AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH, MISSISSIPPI AGRIBUSINESSES THAT SHOW A REASONABLE POTENTIAL FOR RAPID AND SUBSTANTIAL GROWTH AND THAT WILL ADD VALUE TO AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS; TO PROVIDE THAT GRANTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS SHALL DESIGNATE THAT MONIES RECEIVED BY MISSISSIPPI AGRIBUSINESS FROM SUCH FUND ARE REPAYABLE TO THE FUND; TO CREATE THE AGRIBUSINESS COMMERCIALIZATION BOARD TO BE THE ENTITY RESPONSIBLE FOR GRANT AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT DECISIONS INVOLVING MONIES IN THE FUND; TO GRANT THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE CERTAIN ADDITIONAL POWERS AND DUTIES TO ADMINISTER THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE AUDITOR SHALL CONDUCT CERTAIN AUDITS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE ISSUANCE OF $5,000,000.00 IN GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR THE AGRIBUSINESS COMMERCIALIZATION FUND; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Agribusiness Commercialization Act of 1997.
SECTION 2. The purpose of this act is to establish the
Agribusiness Commercialization Fund, the Agribusiness
Commercialization Board and the Agribusiness Commercialization
Program in order to increase the rate of capital formation in the agribusiness sector, stimulate growth-oriented business formations and expansions, create new jobs, commercialize agribusiness technologies and value-added agribusinesses, enhance tax revenues, and supplement conventional business financing.
SECTION 3. The following words shall have the meaning ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Fund" means the Agribusiness Commercialization Fund established in this act.
(b) "Mississippi business" means a corporation, general partnership, limited partnership, joint venture, trust, sole proprietorship, or any other similar entity or organization which is established and operating in Mississippi, or will be established to operate in Mississippi.
(c) "Program" means the Agribusiness Commercialization Program established in this act.
(d) "Seller" means the State Bond Commission.
(e) "Department" means the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.
(f) "Grant" or "cooperative agreement" means any award or agreement between the board and a Mississippi business under the program, this act, and applicable rules and regulations.
(g) "Board" means the board created by this act.
(h) "Agribusiness" means any business enterprise that is engaged in the processing, manufacturing, distribution, packaging, product development or marketing of an agricultural, forestry, aquaculture or horticulture product beyond the production stage. Agribusiness shall also include bio-technology and agriwaste processes and products.
SECTION 4. There is hereby established the Agricultural Commercialization Program to be administered by the Department of Agriculture and Commerce for the purpose of promoting the development and expansion of value-added agribusinesses in this state through grants and cooperative agreements funded by the Agribusiness Commercialization Fund.
SECTION 5. (1) There is hereby created in the State Treasury a fund to be designated as the "Agribusiness Commercialization Fund," which fund shall consist of such monies as provided by Sections 12 through 26 of this act. Unexpended amounts remaining in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund; and any interest earned on amounts in the fund shall be deposited to the credit of the fund.
(2) Monies in the fund shall be used to make grants to, and cooperative agreements with, Mississippi agribusinesses that show a reasonable potential for rapid and substantial growth and that will add value to agricultural products.
(3) Expenditures may be made from this fund for the purpose of making grants to, and entering into cooperative agreements with, Mississippi agribusinesses after approval of the Agribusiness Commercialization Board. Decisions on grants and cooperative agreements shall be left to the sole, business discretion of the Agribusiness Commercialization Board.
(4) Expenditures may be made from the fund for the purpose of administrative and contractual expenses related to the function of the fund and the Agribusiness Commercialization Program by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. In any fiscal year, such expenditures shall not exceed One Hundred Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($125,000.00) or three percent (3%) of the assets of the fund, whichever is greater. The assets of the fund for purposes of this subsection shall include, but not be limited to, cash and receivables.
(5) Grants and cooperative agreements made under the provisions of this act shall designate that monies received by Mississippi agribusinesses are repayable to the fund by such business. Such repayment shall include, but not be limited to, payments and fees based on technologies developed, patents, properties, products, projects, processes, interest, royalties, copyrights, licenses, or proprietary interests. Repayment shall include a return of principle plus an agreed upon amount of income to the fund.
SECTION 6. (1) There is hereby created the "Agribusiness Commercialization Board." The board shall be the entity responsible for making grant and cooperative agreement decisions involving monies in the fund.
(2) The board shall be comprised of five (5) members. Appointments to the board shall be as follows: Three (3) appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, one (1) appointed by the Governor, and one (1) appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. All appointments shall be with the advice and consent of the Senate. The initial term of the three (3) members appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce shall be two (2) years, or until their successors are duly appointed and qualified. The term of office of members appointed by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be for four (4) years, or until their successors are duly appointed and qualified. Subsequent terms for all members shall be four (4) years, or until their successors are duly appointed and qualified. The term of office of each member shall end on June 30 of the appropriate year. Vacancies shall be for the unexpired term of the vacant position and shall be made in the same manner as the original appointment.
(3) The Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce shall name the first chairman of the board, and subsequent chairmen shall be elected according to the rules adopted by the board.
(4) Members of the board are eligible to succeed themselves. If a board member is a full-time state employee, he may not receive per diem for meetings held during regular working hours. No employee of the department may serve on the board.
(5) All members of the board shall be reimbursed for their necessary traveling expenses and mileage incident to their attendance upon the business of the board as provided in Section 25-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, and shall receive a per diem as provided in Section 25-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(6) The decision to approve a grant or cooperative agreement using monies from the fund shall be upon a majority vote of the board. Three (3) members of the board shall constitute a quorum and no business shall be conducted by the board without the presence of a quorum. The board shall adopt rules governing its internal procedures.
(7) The board shall meet quarterly and at such other times as may be necessary. Each member of the board shall receive notice at least ten (10) days prior to each meeting.
(8) The board shall consider for funding only those grants or cooperative agreements recommended to the board by the department or its authorized representative.
SECTION 7. In administering the provisions of this act, the department shall have the following powers and duties:
(a) To supervise the use of funds made available under the provisions of this act;
(b) To requisition monies in the Agribusiness Commercialization Fund and distribute such money in accordance with the provisions of this act;
(c) To recommend to the Agribusiness Commercialization Board grants and cooperative agreements to be funded by the fund;
(d) To assist agribusinesses in acquiring additional funding from any source;
(e) To ensure that there are matching monies provided by the Mississippi agribusinesses receiving monies from the fund;
(f) To maintain an accurate record of all grants and cooperative agreements made available to Mississippi agribusinesses;
(g) To adopt and promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary or desirable for the purpose of implementing the provisions of this act;
(h) To file annually with the Legislature a report detailing how monies in the Agribusiness Commercialization Fund were spent during the preceding fiscal year.
SECTION 8. (1) The department is hereby authorized to engage, exclusively for the support of the Agricultural Commercialization Program, necessary legal counsel, accountants, financial advisors, appraisers, consultants, and other contractors and employees as needed in connection with developing grants, cooperative agreement proposals, reviewing and analyzing proposals, making proposals to the board, and managing the grants and cooperative agreements of the fund.
(2) The department may contract with an independent consultant to develop grants and cooperative agreements and appropriate forms and documents, to receive and review applications for grants or cooperative agreements, to make recommendations to the board on the applications, to manage grants and cooperative agreements, and to otherwise advise and report to the board.
(3) The department is authorized to contract for the services referred to in subsections (1) and (2) of this section on a four-year basis. The expenditure for such services shall be from the fund subject to the expenditure limitation provided for in Section 5(4) of this act.
SECTION 9. The State Auditor shall conduct an annual audit of the books and records of the fund. The State Auditor shall also conduct an annual audit of the books and records of any business which receives monies from the fund to ensure that the monies are being utilized as agreed to in any agreement with the board. The State Auditor may conduct such additional audits as he may determine necessary. The State Auditor shall make the findings known to the department in a report prepared for that purpose.
SECTION 10. No grant shall be provided to a business, or any cooperative agreement entered into under this act, unless the business certifies to the fund that it will not discriminate against any employee or against any applicant for employment because of race, religion, color, national origin, sex or age.
SECTION 11. The department shall prepare an annual report on the operation of the Agribusiness Commercialization Program to include the following items:
(a) Any audit conducted by the State Auditor concerning the Agribusiness Commercialization Program;
(b) A description of all grants and cooperative agreements entered into by the board which shall include:
(i) A description of the business receiving the monies, and
(ii) The terms and conditions of the grant or cooperative agreement; and
(c) A history of the program which shall include:
(i) Amounts expended for grants and cooperative agreements,
(ii) Administrative and contractual expenses, and
(iii) Returns on repayable grants and cooperative agreements.
SECTION 12. (1) The State Bond Commission, at one (1) time, or from time to time, may declare by resolution the necessity for issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Mississippi to provide funds for all costs incurred or to be incurred for the purposes described in Section 5 of this act. Upon the adoption of a resolution by the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, declaring the necessity for the issuance of any part or all of the general obligation bonds authorized by this section, the Department of Agriculture and Commerce shall deliver a certified copy of its resolution or resolutions to the State Bond Commission. Upon receipt of such resolution, the State Bond Commission, in its discretion, may act as the issuing agent, prescribe the form of the bonds, advertise for and accept bids, issue and sell the bonds so authorized to be sold and do any and all other things necessary and advisable in connection with the issuance and sale of such bonds. The total amount of bonds issued under Sections 12 through 26 of this act shall not exceed Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000.00).
(2) Proceeds from the sale of bonds shall be deposited in the special fund created in Section 5 of this act; provided, however, the State Bond Commission shall escrow a portion of the proceeds of the bonds in an account for the benefit of the state which, when the monies are invested in zero coupon bonds for a period not to exceed twenty (20) years, shall mature at a value equal to or greater than one hundred percent (100%) of the total principal amount of the bonds issued. Any investment earnings on amounts deposited into the special fund created in Section 5 of this act shall be used to pay debt service on bonds issued under Sections 11 though 25 of this act, in accordance with the proceedings authorizing issuance of such bonds.
SECTION 13. The principal of and interest on the bonds authorized under Section 12 of this act shall be payable in the manner provided in this section. Such bonds shall bear such date or dates, be in such denomination or denominations, bear interest at such rate or rates (not to exceed the limits set forth in Section 75-17-101, Mississippi Code of 1972), be payable at such place or places within or without the State of Mississippi, shall mature absolutely at such time or times not to exceed twenty-five (25) years from date of issue, be redeemable before maturity at such time or times and upon such terms, with or without premium, shall bear such registration privileges, and shall be substantially in such form, all as shall be determined by resolution of the State Bond Commission.
SECTION 14. The bonds authorized by Section 12 of this act shall be signed by the Chairman of the State Bond Commission, or by his facsimile signature, and the official seal of the commission shall be affixed thereto, attested by the Secretary of the State Bond Commission. The interest coupons, if any, to be attached to such bonds may be executed by the facsimile signatures of such officers. Whenever any such bonds shall have been signed by the officials designated to sign the bonds who were in office at the time of such signing but who may have ceased to be such officers before the sale and delivery of such bonds, or who may not have been in office on the date such bonds may bear, the signatures of such officers upon such bonds and coupons shall nevertheless be valid and sufficient for all purposes and have the same effect as if the person so officially signing such bonds had remained in office until their delivery to the purchaser, or had been in office on the date such bonds may bear. However, notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, such bonds may be issued as provided in the Registered Bond Act of the State of Mississippi.
SECTION 15. All bonds and interest coupons issued under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act have all the qualities and incidents of negotiable instruments under the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code, and in exercising the powers granted by this act, the State Bond Commission shall not be required to and need not comply with the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code.
SECTION 16. The State Bond Commission shall act as the issuing agent for the bonds authorized under Section 12 of this act, prescribe the form of the bonds, advertise for and accept bids, issue and sell the bonds so authorized to be sold, pay all fees and costs incurred in such issuance and sale, and do any and all other things necessary and advisable in connection with the issuance and sale of such bonds. The State Bond Commission is authorized and empowered to pay the costs that are incident to the sale, issuance and delivery of the bonds authorized under Sections 12 through 26 of this act from the proceeds derived from the sale of such bonds. The State Bond Commission shall sell such bonds on sealed bids at public sale, and for such price as it may determine to be for the best interest of the State of Mississippi, but no such sale shall be made at a price less than par plus accrued interest to the date of delivery of the bonds to the purchaser. All interest accruing on such bonds so issued shall be payable semiannually or annually; however, the first interest payment may be for any period of not more than one (1) year.
Notice of the sale of any such bond shall be published at least one (1) time, not less than ten (10) days before the date of sale, and shall be so published in one or more newspapers published or having a general circulation in the City of Jackson, Mississippi, and in one or more other newspapers or financial journals with a national circulation, to be selected by the State Bond Commission.
The State Bond Commission, when issuing any bonds under the authority of Sections 12 through 26 of this act, may provide that bonds, at the option of the State of Mississippi, may be called in for payment and redemption at the call price named therein and accrued interest on such date or dates named therein.
SECTION 17. The bonds issued under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act are general obligations of the State of Mississippi, and for the payment thereof the full faith and credit of the State of Mississippi is irrevocably pledged. If the funds appropriated by the Legislature are insufficient to pay the principal of and the interest on such bonds as they become due, then the deficiency shall be paid by the State Treasurer from any funds in the State Treasury not otherwise appropriated. All such bonds shall contain recitals on their faces substantially covering the provisions of this section.
SECTION 18. Upon the issuance and sale of bonds under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act, the State Bond Commission shall transfer the proceeds of any such sale or sales to the special fund created in Section 5 of this act. The proceeds of such bonds shall be disbursed solely upon the order of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce under such restrictions, if any, as may be contained in the resolution providing for the issuance of the bonds.
SECTION 19. The bonds authorized under Sections 12 through 26 of this act may be issued without any other proceedings or the happening of any other conditions or things other than those proceedings, conditions and things which are specified or required by Sections 12 through 26 of this act. Any resolution providing for the issuance of bonds under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act shall become effective immediately upon its adoption by the State Bond Commission, and any such resolution may be adopted at any regular or special meeting of the State Bond Commission by a majority of its members.
SECTION 20. The bonds authorized under the authority of Sections 12 through 26 of this act may be validated in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, in the manner and with the force and effect provided by Chapter 13, Title 31, Mississippi Code of 1972, for the validation of county, municipal, school district and other bonds. The notice to taxpayers required by such statutes shall be published in a newspaper published or having a general circulation in the City of Jackson, Mississippi.
SECTION 21. Any holder of bonds issued under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act or of any of the interest coupons pertaining thereto may, either at law or in equity, by suit, action, mandamus or other proceeding, protect and enforce any and all rights granted under Sections 12 through 26 of this act, or under such resolution, and may enforce and compel performance of all duties required by Sections 12 through 26 of this act to be performed in order to provide for the payment of bonds and interest thereon.
SECTION 22. All bonds issued under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act shall be legal investments for trustees and other fiduciaries, and for savings banks, trust companies and insurance companies organized under the laws of the State of Mississippi, and such bonds shall be legal securities which may be deposited with and shall be received by all public officers and bodies of this state and all municipalities and political subdivisions for the purpose of securing the deposit of public funds.
SECTION 23. Bonds issued under the provisions of Sections 12 through 26 of this act and income therefrom shall be exempt from all taxation in the State of Mississippi.
SECTION 24. The proceeds of the bonds issued under Sections 12 through 26 of this act shall be used solely for the purposes herein provided, including the costs incident to the issuance and sale of such bonds.
SECTION 25. The State Treasurer is authorized to certify to the Department of Finance and Administration the necessity for warrants, and the Executive Director of the Department of Finance and Administration is authorized and directed to issue such warrants, in such amounts as may be necessary, to pay when due the principal of, premium, if any, and interest on, or the accreted value of, all bonds issued under Sections 12 through 26 of this act; and the State Treasurer shall forward the necessary amount to the designated place or places of payment of such bonds in ample time to discharge such bonds, or the interest thereon, on the due dates thereof.
SECTION 26. Sections 12 through 26 of this act shall be deemed to be full and complete authority for the exercise of the powers herein granted, but this act shall not be deemed to repeal or to be in derogation of any existing law of this state.
SECTION 27. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.