(1) The Legislature finds, determines, and declares that the production of agricultural food products constitutes an important and significant portion of the state economy and that it is imperative to protect the vitality of the agricultural economy for the citizens of this state by providing a cause of action for agricultural producers to recover damages for the disparagement of any perishable agricultural product.
(2) For purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Disparagement” means the willful or malicious dissemination to the public in any manner of any false information that a perishable agricultural food product is not safe for human consumption. False information is that information which is not based on reliable, scientific facts and reliable, scientific data which the disseminator knows or should have known to be false.
(b) “Perishable agricultural food product” means any agricultural or aquacultural food product or commodity grown or produced within the State of Florida which is sold or distributed in a form that will perish or decay within a reasonable period of time.
(c) “Producer” means the person who actually grows or produces perishable agricultural food products.
(3) Any producer or any association representing producers of perishable agricultural food products which suffers damages as a result of another person’s disparagement of any such perishable agricultural food product may bring an action for damages and for any other relief a court of competent jurisdiction deems appropriate, including, but not limited to, compensatory and punitive damages.
(4) The statute of limitations for disparagement of perishable agricultural food products is 2 years from the date the disparagement occurs.