2007 Regular Session

To: Agriculture; Appropriations

By: Senator(s) Lee (35th)

Senate Bill 2986

(As Sent to Governor)



     SECTION 1.  The purpose of this chapter is to promote the growth and development of the peanut industry in Mississippi by research, advertisement promotions and education and market development, thereby promoting the general welfare of the people of this state.

     For purposes of this chapter:

          (a)  "Board" means the Mississippi Peanut Promotion Board.

          (b)  "Department" means the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

     SECTION 2.  (1)  The Mississippi Peanut Promotion Board is hereby created, to be composed of six (6) members to be appointed by the Governor to serve terms of three (3) years.  All of the six (6) members of the board shall be producers of peanuts in the State of Mississippi.  Within ten (10) days following the effective date of this chapter, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Inc., and the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association shall each submit the names of six (6) peanut producers to the Governor, and he shall appoint three (3) members from the nominees of each organization to serve on the board on rotating three-year terms.  The original board shall be appointed with members of each of the organizations appointed as follows:  one (1) for one (1) year, one (1) for two (2) years, and one (1) for three (3) years.  Each year thereafter, not less than thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of the terms of expiring board members, the organizations shall submit the names of three (3) nominees to the Governor and succeeding boards shall be appointed by the Governor in the same manner, giving equal representation to each organization.  Vacancies which occur shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments were made.

     (2)  The members of the board shall meet and organize immediately after their appointment, and shall elect a chairman, vice chairman and secretary-treasurer from the membership of the board, whose duties shall be those customarily exercised by such officers or specifically designated by the board.  The chairman, vice chairman and secretary-treasurer shall be bonded in an amount not less than Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00).  The cost of the bonds shall be paid from the funds received under this chapter.  The bond shall be a security for any illegal act of such member of the board and recovery thereon may be had by the state for any injury by the illegal act of the member.  The board may establish rules and regulations for its own government and the administration of the affairs of the board.

     SECTION 3.  (1)  (a)  There is imposed and levied an assessment at the rate of Two Dollars and Fifty Cents ($2.50) per ton net weight on all peanuts grown within the State of Mississippi or delivered to the first point of sale within the State of Mississippi.  The assessment shall be deducted by the purchaser from the amount paid the producer at the first point of sale, whether within or without the state.  Assessments on peanuts put under loan to the Commodity Credit Corporation or purchased by the Commodity Credit Corporation and delivered to it shall be payable when such peanuts are placed under loan or are purchased.  The Commodity Credit Corporation may require deduction and payment of the assessment from the loan proceeds or from the purchases price on behalf of the producer.  Assessments on peanuts put under loan to the Commodity Credit Corporation and redeemed by the producer before the takeover date, if already paid by having been deducted from the loan proceeds, shall not be deducted by each handler from the amount paid the producer at the first point of sale as provided in this section; otherwise, the assessment shall be deducted.

          (b)  Any peanut producer may request and receive a refund of the amount of assessment deducted from the sale of his peanuts if he makes a written application with the department within sixty (60) days from the date of sale, supported by bona fide copies of sales slips signed by the purchaser.  The application forms shall be prepared by the department and shall be available at the first point of sale.  All such applications shall be processed and refunds paid by the department within sixty (60) days after the funds have been received by the department.  Each marketing agency shall be furnished a poster to be displayed in a prominent place, stating that refunds are available and that the forms, including self-addressed envelopes, are available at its office.  If a producer pledges peanuts grown by that producer as collateral for a loan issued by the Commodity Credit Corporation and if that producer forfeits the peanuts in lieu of loan repayment, the Commodity Credit Corporation shall at the time of the loan settlement, collect the assessment from the producer.

     (2)  The assessment imposed and levied by this section shall be payable to and collected by the department from the purchaser of the peanuts at the first point of sale or from the Commodity Credit Corporation as provided in subsection (1) of this section.  The proceeds of the assessment collected by the department shall be deposited monthly with the State Treasurer in a special fund to be established as the "Mississippi Peanut Promotion Fund," and promptly remitted to a foundation under the terms and conditions as the board deems necessary to ensure that the assessments are used properly in carrying out the purposes of this chapter.

     (3)  The department shall submit to the board a budget detailing and justifying the administrative costs of the department in administering the provisions of this chapter.  The budget must be approved by the board by April 1 of each year.  The department shall pay over to the Mississippi Peanut Promotion Fund the funds collected, less three and one-half percent (3-1/2%) of the gross amount collected.  The amount withheld by the department must be approved by the board by July 1 of each year.

     (4)  Each purchaser or the Commodity Credit Corporation shall keep a complete and accurate record of all peanuts handled by him and shall furnish each producer with a signed sales slip showing the number of bushels purchased from him and the amount deducted by him for the Mississippi Peanut Promotion Fund.  The records shall be in the form and contain any other information as the department shall by rule or regulation prescribe.  The records shall be preserved by the purchaser for a period of two (2) years and shall be offered for inspection at any time upon oral or written demand by the department or any duly authorized agent or representative thereof.  Every purchaser or the Commodity Credit Corporation, at such time or times as the department may require, shall submit reports or other documentary information deemed necessary for the efficient and equitable collection of the assessment imposed in this chapter.  The department shall have the power to cause any duly authorized agent or representative to enter upon the premises of any purchaser of peanuts and examine or cause to be examined by the agent only books, papers and records which deal in any way with the payment of the assessment or enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.

     SECTION 4.  The department is authorized to collect the assessment created by the Peanut Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on behalf of the board.

     SECTION 5.  (1)  Any purchaser who fails to file a report or to pay any assessment within the time required by the department shall forfeit to the department a penalty of five percent (5%) of the assessment determined to be due, plus one percent (1%) of the amount for each month of delay or fraction thereof after the first month after the report was required to be filed or the assessment became due.  The penalty shall be paid to the department and shall be disposed of by it in the same manner as funds derived from the payment of the assessment imposed herein.

     (2)  The department shall collect the penalties levied herein, together with the delinquent assessment, by any or all of the following methods:

          (a)  By voluntary payment by the person liable.

          (b)  By legal proceedings instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction.

     (3)  Any person required to pay the assessment provided for in this chapter who fails to remit same or who refuses to allow full inspection of the premises, or the books, records or other documents relating to the liability of the person for the assessment herein imposed, or who shall hinder or in any way delay or prevent the inspection, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or by imprisonment not to exceed one (1) year, or both.

     (4)  The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any person who purchases two thousand (2,000) pounds (one (1) ton) gross weight, or less in any calendar year, provided he is not regularly engaged in the purchase of peanuts.

     SECTION 6.  (1)  The board shall plan and conduct a program of research, education and advertising designed to promote the peanut industry in Mississippi.  The board is authorized to use the funds derived from the assessment imposed herein for these purposes, including basic administration expenses of the plan.  Use of these funds may be applied, as prescribed in this section, within or without the State of Mississippi, including regional, national and international research and promotional applications.

     (2)  (a)  The Mississippi Legislature finds and declares that the factors which affect the ability of Mississippi peanut farmers to market their crop are established by national and international forces in the world market.  The Legislature further finds and declares that the expenditure of funds by the board for the purpose of influencing the development and implementation of national and international policy affecting the marketing, research and advertising of peanuts produced by Mississippi farmers is the expenditure of funds for a public purpose.

          (b)  The board may expend a portion of the funds received and administered by the board for the purpose of influencing the development and implementation of national and international policy affecting peanuts produced by Mississippi farmers.

          (c)  The amount of funds expended by the board in each fiscal year for the purposes authorized in this subsection shall not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the budget of the board for that fiscal year.

          (d)  The board shall not expend any funds for the purpose of influencing any legislative action on the state level.

     SECTION 7.  The State Tax Commission shall provide any information necessary to assist the department in collecting the assessments provided for in this chapter.

     SECTION 8.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any laws or parts of laws in conflict herewith, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling to the extent of the conflict.

     SECTION 9.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.