Section 573.118, Florida Statutes 2009
573.118 Assessment; funds; audit; loans.--
(1) To provide funds to defray the necessary expenses incurred by the department in the formulation, issuance, administration, and enforcement of any marketing order, every person engaged in the production, distributing, or handling of agricultural commodities within this state, and directly affected by any marketing order, shall pay to the department, at such times and in such installments as the department may prescribe, such person's pro rata share of necessary expenses. Each person's share of expenses shall be that proportion which the total volume of agricultural commodities produced, distributed, or handled by the person during the current marketing season, or part thereof covered by such marketing order, is of the total volume of the commodities produced, distributed, or handled by all such persons during the same current marketing season or part thereof. The department, after receiving the recommendations of the advisory council, shall fix the rate of assessment on the volume of agricultural commodities sold or some other equitable basis. For convenience of collection, upon request of the department, handlers of the commodities shall pay any producer assessments. Handlers paying assessments for and on behalf of any producers shall, at their discretion, collect the producer assessments from any moneys owed by the handlers to the producers. The collected assessments shall be deposited into the General Inspection Trust Fund and shall be used for the sole purpose of implementing the marketing order for which the assessment was collected. The department is not subject to the procedures found in s. 287.057 in the expenditure of these funds. However, the director of the Division of Marketing and Development shall file with the internal auditor of the department a certification of conditions and circumstances justifying each contract or agreement entered into without competitive bidding.
(2) The department may require every producer, distributor, or handler directly affected by any marketing order to deposit with it in advance cash or sufficient bond, based upon the estimated volume of agricultural commodities to be handled during the period or periods covered by the marketing order, to defray the costs involved in the formulation, issuance, administration, and enforcement of any marketing order. At the close of each marketing season during which the marketing order is effective, the sum so deposited shall be adjusted to the amount which is chargeable against the producer, distributor, or handler upon the basis of the volume of agricultural commodities handled during the period or periods. The department shall prescribe rules with respect to the assessment and collection of these funds.
(3) Any money so collected shall be used to defray the actual expenses incurred by the department with respect to the agricultural commodities marketing order. Any moneys remaining in the fund, at the discretion of the department, may be refunded at the close of any marketing season upon a pro rata basis to all persons from whom the funds were collected. Upon termination by the department of any marketing order, all moneys remaining and not required to defray the expenses of the order shall be returned by the department upon a pro rata basis to all persons from whom the funds were collected.
(4) In the event of levying and collecting of assessments, for each fiscal year in which assessment funds are received by the department, the department shall cause to be made a thorough annual audit of the books and accounts by a certified public accountant, such audit to be completed within 60 days after the end of the fiscal year. The department and all producers and handlers covered by the marketing order shall be properly advised of the details of the annual official audit of the accounts as shown by the certified public accountant within 30 days of the audit.
(5) Any assessment levied, in the specified amount as may be determined by the department, shall constitute a personal debt of every person so assessed and shall be due and payable to the department, and the department may file a complaint against any person or persons in a state court of competent jurisdiction for the collection of the assessment.
(6) Any assessment levied upon citrus fruit under this section shall be at a rate not to exceed 1 cent per standard-packed box of citrus fruit grown and placed into the primary channel of trade in this state. All revenues from such assessment collected by the department shall be deposited into the Citrus Inspection Trust Fund.
History.--ss. 18, 26, ch. 87-171; s. 4, ch. 89-197; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 23, ch. 92-151; s. 4, ch. 93-270.