Code Section Group

Food and Agricultural Code - FAC

DIVISION 20. PROCESSORS, STORERS, DEALERS, AND DISTRIBUTORS OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS [54001 - 57700]

  ( Division 20 enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15. )

CHAPTER 2. Cooperative Bargaining Associations [54401 - 54463]

  ( Chapter 2 enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15. )

ARTICLE 1. Definitions and General Provisions [54401 - 54405]
  ( Article 1 enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15. )

54401.
  

As used in this chapter, “cooperative bargaining association” means a farmer association which is organized and functioning pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 54001) of this division, for the purpose of group bargaining between its producer members and the first handler or processor, with respect to the sale of any agricultural commodity except milk, cotton, or cottonseed.

(Enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15.)

54402.
  

It is the public policy of the state to establish and support the right of any farmer to join voluntarily, belong to and freely participate in cooperative bargaining associations. Interference with producer rights set forth in this chapter, including the obligation of processors to negotiate and bargain with cooperative bargaining associations, is an unfair trade practice.

(Amended by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 1.)

54404.
  

For the purpose of enforcing this chapter, the director may receive complaints from producers against any processor, handler, distributor, or any agent of these persons, or from processors, handlers, distributors, or any agent of these persons against a cooperative bargaining association or any agent of an association, with respect to violations of the unfair trade practices which are specified in Section 54431.

Upon verification of the complaint, the director shall, or upon the director’s own motion may, make any and all necessary investigations, examinations, or inspections of any transaction which involves a suspected violation of any provision of this chapter.

The director may thereafter take action against the processor, handler, distributor, or any agent of these persons, or the cooperative bargaining association or any agent of an association, in accordance with applicable provisions of this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 3.)

54404.1.
  

If, upon the investigation conducted under Section 54404, the director has reasonable cause to believe that the person charged has violated Section 54431, the director shall issue and cause to be served upon the person so charged a complaint stating the charges. The complaint shall summon the named person to a hearing before the director, which he or she shall call at a specific time and place.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 4.)

54404.2.
  

At the hearing called pursuant to Section 54404.1, the director may do all the following:

(a) Administer oaths and take testimony.

(b) Issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses before him or her, together with any books, memoranda, papers, and other documents, articles, or instruments that may be pertinent to the controversy as set forth in the complaint.

(c) Compel the disclosure by the witnesses of all facts known to them that relate to the controversy.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 5.)

54404.3.
  

The procedure for holding the hearing pursuant to Section 54404.2 is identical to hearings held pursuant to Article 13 (commencing with Section 55781) of Chapter 6.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 6.)

54404.4.
  

At the conclusion of the hearing called pursuant to Section 54404.1, the director shall enter in his or her office in Sacramento an order which dismisses the complaint, unless the director is satisfied that the person against whom the complaint was filed has violated Section 54431.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 7.)

54404.5.
  

(a) Notwithstanding Section 54404.1, if the director receives a verified complaint that a processor, handler, distributor, or any agent of any such person or a cooperative bargaining association or any agent of an association has violated subdivision (e) of Section 54431, the director shall conduct a hearing within 14 days of receiving the complaint. The director shall issue a notice of the hearing not less than five days prior to the commencement of the hearing. The director may, but is not required to, make any investigation in addition to the hearing. The director shall announce his or her decision on the complaint within five days after the conclusion of the hearing and may take any action that is authorized by this section.

(b)  If the director determines that the person against whom the complaint was filed has violated subdivision (e) of Section 54431, the director may issue an order fashioned in a manner so as to expeditiously require that person to comply with the requirements of this chapter. If the person thereafter disobeys the order, the director, represented by the Attorney General, shall apply to the Superior Court of the County of Sacramento in order to obtain a court order requiring the person to obey the order of the director. The action shall be handled in an expeditious manner by the court and given calendar preference.

(c) The costs of the hearing held pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be assessed by the director and paid for by the party filing the complaint if the hearing results in a finding that no violation occurred. The costs of the hearing shall be paid for by the party against whom the complaint was filed if the hearing results in a finding that a violation had occurred.

(d) The hearing held pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be held in as expeditious a manner as possible under Sections 54404.2 and 54404.3. The hearing officer shall use his or her best efforts to ensure that the hearing will be conducted as quickly as possible consistent with the requirements of due process and this chapter.

(e) The record from the hearing held pursuant to subdivision (a) may be introduced by either party to that hearing at a hearing held pursuant to Section 54404. 1.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1100, Sec. 8.)

54405.
  

The director may bring an action to enjoin the violation or threatened violation of any provision of this chapter in the superior court of the county in which such violation occurred or is about to occur. Actions against different defendants may be consolidated, in the discretion of the court, if the alleged violations are of the same provision, have occurred in the same or an adjoining county, relate to the same agricultural commodity, occurred in the same production season, and such consolidation can be done without prejudice to a substantial right of any defendant. Any proceedings which are brought pursuant to this section shall be governed in all other respects by Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 525), Title 7, Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(Enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15.)

FACFood and Agricultural Code - FAC1