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 7. Produce Dealers [56101 - 56652]

  ( Chapter 7 enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15. )

ARTICLE 7. Commission Merchants [56271 - 56283]
  ( Article 7 enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15. )

56271.
  

Every commission merchant, that receives any farm product for sale as a commission merchant, shall promptly make and keep a correct record which shows in detail all of the following with reference to the handling, sale, or storage of such farm product:

(a) The name and address of the consignor.

(b) The date it was received.

(c) The condition and quantity upon arrival.

(d) Date of such sale for the account of the consignor.

(e) The price for which it was sold.

(f) An itemized statement of the charges to be paid by the consignor in connection with the sale. Any services rendered for which charges are made, if not filed with the director, shall be charged at cost if not covered by a written contract. Cost-supporting data shall be available for verification.

(g) The names and addresses of all purchasers if the commission merchant has any financial interest in the business of the purchasers, or if the purchasers have any financial interest in the business of the commission merchant, directly or indirectly, as holder of the other’s corporate stock, as copartner, as lender or borrower of money to or from the other, or otherwise. Such interest shall be noted in such records following the name of any such purchaser.

(h) A lot number or other identifying mark for each consignment, which number or mark shall appear on every sales tag and every other essential record which is needed to identify each consignment from receipt through final sale. When requested by the consignor, as provided by Section 56281, a lot number shall appear on each individual farm product container. When containers are on pallets, then only the exposed containers shall be marked. When stamping or otherwise identifying each container is impractical due to the type of packaging, the container need not be marked.

(i) Any claim which has been or may be filed by the commission merchant against any person for overcharges or for damages which result from the injury or deterioration of such farm product by the act, neglect, or failure of such person. Such records shall be open to the inspection of the director and the consignor of the farm product for whom such claim is made.

(Amended by Stats. 1978, Ch. 588.)

56272.
  

When requested by his consignors, a commission merchant shall, before the close of the next business day following such request, transmit to the consignor a true written report of the quantity sold and the selling price.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 632.)

56273.
  

The full amount which is realized from the sales, including all collections, overcharges, and damages, less the agreed commission and other charges, together with a complete account of sales, as provided in Section 56273.1, shall be remitted to the consignor within 10 days after receipt of the moneys by the commission merchant, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1081, Sec. 1.)

56273.1.
  

(a) For purposes of this chapter, an account of sales shall be deemed complete if it consists of all of the following information:

(1) The date of shipment.

(2) The terms of the original sale concerning where and when title passes.

(3) The commodity, variety, size, and grade.

(4) The quantity shipped.

(5) The quantity disposed of in a manner other than sale by the buyer, if applicable.

(6) The original selling price.

(7) The adjusted selling price, if applicable.

(8) The reason for adjustment, if applicable.

(9) Any inspection certificate required to be obtained as stated in Section 56280.

(10) Amounts billed and collected from the buyer for services rendered to the buyer by the commission merchant.

(11) The gross and net returns received from the buyer.

(12) Any authorized commission merchant charges.

(13) Any additional amounts paid to the consignor by the commission merchant to support the original price.

(14) The net amount due the consignor.

(b) The consignor and the commission merchant may agree on the documentation necessary to support the information required by subdivision (a). The agreements shall be made, in writing, prior to the shipping season of the particular farm product.

(Amended by Stats. 1997, Ch. 696, Sec. 67.5. Effective January 1, 1998.)

56274.
  

In the account, the names and addresses of purchasers need not be given. Where a commission merchant has entered into a contract with two or more producers or consignors which contract provides that the returns for farm products sold for the account of such producers or consignors shall be pooled on a definite basis as to size or grade, or both, during a certain period of time, then a commission merchant shall obtain the written consent of the consignors and shall be required to render an account of sales, showing the net average pool return on each size or grade, or both, from sales made and shall keep a correct record of such sales, showing in detail all information as required in Section 56271.

(Amended by Stats. 1967, Ch. 807.)

56275.
  

Every licensee operating as a commission merchant shall retain a copy of all records which cover each transaction, which copy shall at all times be available for, and open to, the confidential inspection of the director, consignor, or the authorized representative of either.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, Ch. 632.)

56276.
  

If there is any dispute or disagreement between a consignor and a commission merchant which arises at the time of delivery as to condition, quality, grade, pack, quantity, or weight of any lot, shipment, or consignment of any farm product, the department shall furnish, upon the payment of a reasonable fee for it by the requesting party, a certificate which establishes the condition, quality, grade, pack, quantity, or weight of such lot, shipment, or consignment.

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

56277.
  

Such certificate is prima facie evidence of the truth of the statements contained therein. The presumption established by this section is a presumption affecting the burden of proof, but it does not apply in a criminal action.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, Ch. 632.)

56278.
  

Proof of any sale of any farm product which is made by a commission merchant for less than the current market price to any person with whom he has any financial connection, directly or indirectly as owner of its corporate stock, as copartner, or otherwise, or any sale out of which such commission merchant receives, directly or indirectly, any portion of the purchase price, except the commission which is named in the licensee’s application or in a specific contract with the consignor, establishes a rebuttable presumption of fraud within the meaning of this chapter. This presumption is a presumption affecting the burden of proof.

(Amended by Stats. 1967, Ch. 262.)

56279.
  

The burden of proof shall be upon the commission merchant to prove the correctness of any accounting required to be performed by the commission merchant pursuant to this chapter as to any transaction which may be questioned.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1081, Sec. 3.)

56280.
  

(a) A commission merchant shall notify each consignor with whom he or she does business of this section. The notice shall be given in writing prior to the shipping season of the particular farm product.

(b) No charge shall be made against a consignor’s account for a downward price adjustment or a reduction in quantity of farm products delivered due to a breach of contract, unless the commission merchant has, in his or her files, a federal-state inspection certificate, issued pursuant to the United States Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, (7 U.S.C. 1621, et seq.), indicating the type and the extent of the substandard condition of the lot involved in the breach of contract, thereby supporting the amount charged against the consignor’s account. The commission merchant need not obtain a federal-state inspection certificate unless the lot involved is of a substandard condition.

(c) Notwithstanding Section 56281, this section does not preclude a consignor from agreeing to a downward price adjustment or a reduction in the quantity of farm products delivered and waiving the right to inspection when the agreement was made prior to the shipping season of the particular farm product and was in writing.

(d) The federal-state inspection certificate may be substituted by a private third-party inspection, based on the standards prescribed under the United States Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, if the director determines, to his or her satisfaction, that a federal-state inspection certificate could not reasonably be obtained. If the director determines, to his or her satisfaction, that neither a federal-state inspection certificate nor private, third-party inspection, can be reasonably obtained, a signed statement of two or more disinterested, or otherwise independent parties, who have sufficient knowledge, acquired through education or experience, to evaluate the farm product involved, may be used as substitute for the federal-state certificate or third-party inspection, in order to make a statement as to the quality and condition of the lot of farm product at the time of inspection.

(e) Where the condition of the lot is not substandard but for other reasons, including a decline in market demand, there is a downward price adjustment, the commission merchant shall affirm, in writing, that the lot was at least of standard quality at the time of sale. The affirmation shall be attached to, or made part of, the records of the consignment.

(f) As used in this section, “lot” means the farm product identified by the procedure set forth in subdivision (h) of Section 56271.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1081, Sec. 4.)

56280.5.
  

Any agreement waiving any right guaranteed by this chapter shall set forth in exact language the provision of this code being waived. Upon request by the secretary, the commission merchant shall make the agreement available for inspection. Any agreement that does not comply with this section, or that is not made available to the secretary for inspection upon the secretary’s request, is void.

(Added by Stats. 1996, Ch. 620, Sec. 17. Effective January 1, 1997.)

56281.
  

A commission merchant shall notify each consignor with whom he or she does business of the provisions affecting the consignor that are contained in Sections 56271, 56272, 56273, 56280, 56282, and 56351, and this section. The notice shall be given in writing prior to the shipping season of the particular farm product. The notice shall include a form whereby the consignor may request notice of any adjustment by the commission merchant. The form shall also include a provision whereby the consignor may request that lot numbers be affixed on each individual farm product container as provided in subdivision (h) of Section 56271. Each commission merchant shall keep the records necessary to prove that the notices were given to each consignor in accordance with this section. A licensee operating as a commission merchant shall notify the consignor of any adjustment on a transaction, and provide reasons for the adjustment, within 48 hours.

If the commission merchant is unable to contact the consignor by telephone or in person, the notification shall be immediately provided by mail.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 620, Sec. 18. Effective January 1, 1997.)

56282.
  

(a) Pursuant to this chapter, upon the verified complaint of the consignor, the secretary may disallow to a commission merchant, all or part of, any adjustment charged back to any consignor similarly situated, if the secretary determines that there is insufficient justification of the condition or circumstances requiring the adjustment.

(b) In determining whether there is insufficient justification for an adjustment, the secretary shall first determine if any waivers or agreements have been entered into pursuant to this chapter. If a waiver or agreement has been entered into and the secretary determines that the waiver or agreement complies with Section 56280.5 and does not otherwise violate this chapter, the secretary’s inquiry in determining this adjustment shall be governed by the terms and conditions of the waiver or agreement.

(c) If there is no waiver or agreement, or if the waiver or agreement violates this chapter, as determined by the secretary, in determining whether there is insufficient justification for an adjustment, the secretary shall consider, among other things, the following:

(1) The certificate issued pursuant to Section 56280 or 56351 does not support breach of contract.

(2) The perishability of the farm product involved and the timely issuance of the certificate pursuant to Section 56280 or 56352.

(3) Market reports or other market evidence does not support a downward price adjustment in accordance with Section 56279.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 620, Sec. 19. Effective January 1, 1997.)

56283.
  

Every commission merchant who receives any farm product for sale on consignment shall exercise reasonable care and diligence in disposing of the product in a fair and reasonable manner.

(Added by Stats. 1986, Ch. 942, Sec. 12.)

FACFood and Agricultural Code - FAC7