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Bill Number: 2941 Ratification Number: 278 Act Number 193 Introducing Body: House Subject: Complaint by a farmer against a seed dealer
(A193, R278, H2941)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 46-21-260, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE COMPLAINT BY A FARMER AGAINST A SEED DEALER, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT WHEN A FARMER ALLEGES THAT AGRICULTURAL, VEGETABLE, OR FLOWER SEEDS FAIL TO CONFORM TO THE LABEL ATTACHED TO THE SEEDS, AS A PREREQUISITE TO HIS RIGHT TO MAINTAIN A LEGAL ACTION AGAINST THE DEALER, THE FARMER SHALL MAKE A SWORN COMPLAINT AGAINST THE DEALER, PROVIDE FOR THE FILING OF THE COMPLAINT AND FOR SERVICE ON THE DEALER BY CERTIFIED MAIL WITHIN SUCH TIME AS TO PERMIT INSPECTION OF THE SEEDS, CROPS, OR PLANTS BY THE SEED ARBITRATION COMMITTEE OR ITS REPRESENTATIVES AND BY THE DEALER, PROVIDE FOR THE LANGUAGE SETTING FORTH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING AND SERVING THE COMPLAINT, PROVIDE THAT IF LANGUAGE SETTING FORTH THE REQUIREMENTS IS NOT PROPERLY PLACED ON A PACKAGE LABEL OR THE PACKAGE ITSELF THE FILING AND SERVING OF A COMPLAINT ARE NOT REQUIRED, PROVIDE FOR AN INVESTIGATION BY THE ARBITRATION COMMITTEE UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES AND CONDITIONS, ALLOW ANY INVESTIGATION, FINDINGS, REPORTS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE TO BE CONSIDERED BY THE COURT IN A JUDICIAL ACTION, PROVIDE FOR FILING BY THE DEALER OF HIS ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT AND FOR SERVICE ON THE FARMER BY REGISTERED MAIL, REQUIRE THE COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE TO REFER THE COMPLAINT AND ANSWER TO THE ARBITRATION COMMITTEE FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES, AND PROVIDE THAT, UPON RECEIPT OF THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE, THE COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE SHALL TRANSMIT THEM TO THE FARMER AND TO THE DEALER BY REGISTERED MAIL.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Complaint; answer; investigation
SECTION 1. Section 46-21-260(1) of the 1976 Code, as added by Act 488 of 1986, is amended to read:
"(1) When any farmer alleges that agricultural, vegetable, or flower seeds fail to conform to the label attached to the seeds, as required by Sections 46-21-210 and 46-21-240, as a prerequisite to his right to maintain a legal action against the dealer from whom the seeds were purchased, the farmer shall make a sworn complaint against the dealer indicating in what respects the seeds appear to be deficient. The complaint must be filed with the Department of Agriculture, and a copy of the complaint must be served on the dealer by certified mail, within such time as to permit inspection of the seeds, crops, or plants by the seed arbitration committee or its representatives and by the dealer from whom the seeds were purchased. The language setting forth the requirements for filing and serving the complaint must be legibly typed or printed on a label attached to or on the package containing the seeds at the time of purchase by the farmer. If language setting forth the requirements is not so placed on a package label or on the package itself the filing and serving of a complaint under this subsection are not required. Any party to a judicial action alleging damages from the failure of seeds purchased from a seed dealer to perform as labeled may request an investigation by the arbitration committee as long as sufficient time remains to permit inspection of the seeds, crops, or plants. Any investigation, findings, reports, and recommendations of the committee may be considered by the court in such a judicial action. Within ten days after receipt of a copy of the complaint, the dealer shall file with the department his answer to the complaint and serve a copy of the answer on the farmer by registered mail. The Commissioner of Agriculture shall refer the complaint and the answer to the arbitration committee provided in Section 46-21-270 for investigation, findings, and recommendations on the complaints. Upon receipt of the findings, and recommendations of the arbitration committee, the Commissioner shall transmit them to the farmer and to the dealer by registered mail."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.