Web site helps protect Florida growers

Florida’s agricultural producers have a new tool to help them quickly find out which agricultural dealers have claims filed against them. A web site unveiled by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson enables the state’s growers to view claims for non-payment that are currently filed against agricultural dealers, both licensed and unlicensed.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is responsible for the licensing of dealers in agricultural products. Any person who is engaged within the state in the business of buying, receiving, soliciting, handling, or negotiating agricultural products from or for Florida producers, or their agents, must be licensed and bonded.

“Posting this information on the Web makes it very easy for growers to see if any complaints for non-payment are filed against specific dealers before they contract with them,” Bronson said. “Armed with this data, growers can make their own conclusions about who they choose to do business with.”

The Florida License and Bond Law helps assure that producers of products covered by the law receive proper accounting and payment for their products. In order to secure a license, one must file a properly completed application, pay the required license fee, and post an adequate surety bond or certificate of deposit. Any producer or producer’s agent who feels he has been damaged by a dealer’s failure to make proper accounting or payment for agricultural products may file a complaint.

“Florida’s License and Bond Law affords protection to our state’s agricultural producers who could otherwise suffer huge financial losses if a buyer failed to live up to the terms of the purchase,” Bronson said. “Obviously, perishable commodities cannot be repossessed, and, without this law, smaller farming operations could literally be put out of business by a buyer who does not pay for shipments.”

Since its enactment in 1941, producers of perishable agricultural commodities have been able to conduct business with the safeguards afforded by this law, which is administered by the department’s Bureau of Agricultural Dealer’s Licenses. The law was revised in 2005 to increase protections to producers and dealers.

To view the list of dealers that have claims filed against them, visit www.florida-agriculture.com/marketing/licensing_claims.htm. The records displayed constitute cases of alleged non-payment for agricultural products. Liability has not been adjudicated.

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