May 5, 1999
Agricultural License And Bond Information Now Online
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today announced that producers can now obtain a list of "Bonded Dealers in Agricultural Products" on the Internet at: www.fl-ag.com.
"This web site provides important information on those licensed and bonded to conduct business as a dealer in agricultural products in Florida," Crawford said. "This information can help assure that producers of products covered by the law receive proper accounting and payment for their products."
Under the Florida Agricultural License and Bond Law 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 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Farmers who buy or handle agricultural products from other farmers or their agents must also comply. The limited exceptions to the law include farmers selling their own produce and buyers paying cash at the time of purchase.
Every agricultural product grown in Florida, except citrus (excluding limes), tobacco, tropical foliage and sugar cane, is covered by the Agricultural License and Bond law. One of the licensing requirements is to post a bond or certificate of deposit with the Department. The financial security required may range from $3,000 to $100,000, depending on the dealer’s volume of business.
The law is intended to facilitate the marketing of Florida agricultural products by encouraging a better understanding between buyers and sellers and by providing a marketplace that is relatively free of unfair trading practices and defaults.
Dealers on the web site are organized in alphabetical order according to their principal business under eight commodities or categories, which include flowers and nursery; livestock; fruit and vegetables; field crops; poultry, eggs, milk and honey; saw palmetto berries; watermelons; and grain. The listing includes the dealer’s name, city, state, amount of financial security and effective date of security, which is valid for one year, unless canceled. The information is updated weekly.
The law is administered by the Department’s Bureau of Agricultural Dealer's Licenses, which issued 3,758 licenses in the 1997-98 fiscal year. The bureau also conducts audits of dealers to ensure compliance and investigates complaints from producers. Last year, the Department helped Florida agricultural producers recover more than $787,000 for agricultural products sold to Florida dealers under the law.
"We are aggressively enforcing the provisions of this law so that Florida farmers will have recourse when a dealer does not comply with the provisions of an agreement," Crawford said. "Farmers also have a responsibility to make sure the people they deal with have a license from the Department, and to keep written records of all transactions."
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. Complaints must be filed within six months of the sale or delivery of the agricultural product and must be for a claim of at least $250.
The Bureau of Agricultural Dealer's Licenses has been in existence since 1941, recovering millions of dollars for Florida farmers.
For information about the license and bond law, call (850) 488-4101, or write:
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Bureau of Agricultural Dealer's Licenses
541 East Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32308
For more information:Brenda Hyatt