Sec. 22-54o. Definitions. As used in sections 22-54p to 22-54t, inclusive:
(1) "Apples" means apples produced in the state for the purpose of sale;
(2) "Apple producer" means any person who produces or causes to be produced more than one thousand first sale units of apples in the state;
(3) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Agriculture;
(4) "Harvest crop" means the number of bushels or pounds of apples harvested for a season;
(5) "Distributor" or "handler" means any person, other than the producer, who sells, causes to be sold or markets a first sale unit;
(6) "First sale unit" means a unit of sale of apples of between thirty-six and forty-four pounds, sold for fresh market use in boxes, cartons, baskets or other containers or, if sold on a per pound basis or in bulk, means forty pounds;
(7) "Fresh market" means the sale of apples in the whole and unadulterated state in which such apples were harvested;
(8) "Marketing" means the act or process of selling or purchasing in an apple market and includes advertising and promotion of apples or apple products and associated marketing research;
(9) "Market order" means an order issued by the Commissioner of Agriculture pursuant to section 22-54q for marketing research and promotion of apples and apple products, including an assessment to support such marketing research and promotion;
(10) "Marketing season" means the period beginning July first of any year and ending June thirtieth of the following year;
(11) "Storage" means any building, structure or place where apples are kept in a cold, refrigerated or controlled atmosphere.
Sec. 22-54p. Powers and duties of commissioner. Regulations. (a) The Commissioner of Agriculture may: (1) Issue and administer an apple market order regulating the marketing of apples and (2) suspend the apple market order for one marketing season if he determines that the market order is not necessary to achieve the goals established in subsection (b) of section 22-54q. The commissioner shall administer the estimated budget prepared by the Apple Marketing Board pursuant to section 22-54s and may impose an assessment on apple producers sufficient to cover the costs of such budget.
(b) The commissioner may adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 to implement this section and sections 22-54q to 22-54t, inclusive, including the establishment of procedures to conduct a referendum pursuant to subsection (c) of section 22-54q.
Sec. 22-54q. Proposed apple market order. Hearing. Decision by the commissioner. Referendum. Amendments. Termination. (a) An apple market order may be proposed to the commissioner upon submittal of a petition signed by twenty-five per cent of the apple producers known to the commissioner. The commissioner shall cause notice of such order to be published in the Connecticut Law Journal. Within thirty days of the date of publication of such notice, the commissioner shall conduct a public hearing and provide reasonable opportunity for the submission of written comments. The commissioner shall within thirty days of the close of the hearing approve or disapprove the market order. Notice of his decision shall be published in the Connecticut Law Journal.
(b) The commissioner shall approve a proposed market order upon determination that such order achieves the following goals: (1) The promotion of the efficient and equitable marketing of apples; (2) the development of new and larger markets for apples produced in the state; (3) the elimination or reduction of economic waste in apple marketing, and (4) the maintenance of apple grading standards.
(c) The commissioner shall conduct a referendum on any market order approved in accordance with the provisions of this section. The market order shall take effect if the commissioner determines (1) not less than two-thirds of the apple producers participating in a referendum voted in favor of the market order and such producers marketed not less than fifty-one per cent of the quantity of apples marketed during the preceding marketing season by all apple producers participating in the referendum or (2) not less than fifty-one per cent of the apple producers participating in a referendum voted in favor of the market order and such producers marketed not less than two-thirds of the quantity of apples marketed during the preceding marketing season by all apple producers participating in the referendum.
(d) Not less than twenty days after publication of an approved market order, the commissioner shall mail a copy of the order and a ballot to each apple producer known to the commissioner and to any other apple producer requesting a ballot. The ballot shall be returned by a date specified by the commissioner but not less than twenty days after the date of mailing by the commissioner. The ballot shall be in such form as the commissioner may prescribe and shall include the following: The vote of the apple producer for or against the market order and the name and address of the apple producer and volume of first sale units marketed by such producer during the preceding marketing season. A ballot shall not be invalid if the volume of apples sold is indicated by another unit.
(e) Each ballot returned to the commissioner shall be signed by the apple producer. Any individual signing a ballot for a corporation or other business authority shall indicate his authority to so vote.
(f) An amendment to the order may be proposed to the commissioner upon submittal of a petition signed by not less than twenty-five per cent of all apple producers known to the commissioner. An amendment shall be adopted after a referendum conducted pursuant to this section. The amendment shall be approved if more than fifty per cent of the apple producers voting in favor thereof provided more than fifty-one per cent or more of the apples produced in the state during the preceding marketing season. Any amendment shall take effect during the marketing season following its approval.
(g) The commissioner may terminate an apple market order upon determination that such order no longer achieves the goals described in subsection (b) of this section. The effective date of the termination shall be at the close of the marketing season during which such order was terminated.
(h) Termination of the market order may be requested by a petition submitted to the commissioner by April fifteenth of any year signed by not less than twenty-five per cent of apple producers who marketed not less than twenty-five per cent of the apples produced for market in the preceding marketing season. The commissioner shall terminate the market order by June fifteenth of such year if he determines by a referendum conducted in accordance with this section that such termination is favored by not less than fifty per cent of the apple producers who provided not less than fifty-one per cent of the apples marketed in the preceding marketing season.
(i) The petitioners for a market order or for the amendment or termination of a market order shall pay the cost of issuing, amending or terminating such order.
(j) Not more than two years after the issuance of the market order and thereafter at intervals of not more than five years, the market order shall be submitted to apple producers for their approval. Such approval shall be determined by means of a referendum adopted in accordance with this section.
Sec. 22-54r. Assessment. Civil penalty. (a) There shall be paid by each apple producer to the Commissioner of Agriculture an assessment sufficient to cover the costs in the budget for implementation of the apple market order. The amount of the assessment shall be determined by the commissioner except that any assessment in excess of six cents per first sale unit shall be approved by a referendum conducted in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) of section 22-54q. The initial one thousand first sale units of any apple producer in each market season shall be exempt from the assessment.
(b) Each apple producer subject to the assessment shall submit a return to the commissioner either annually on the fifteenth day of each November or quarterly on the fifteenth day of each November, February, May and August. The amount due shall be based on the number of apples sold or removed from storage on or before the last day of the month preceding the month the assessment is due. If the apple producer elects to submit a return annually he shall calculate the amount due by considering seventy-five per cent of his total harvest to be first sale units. The commissioner may require a producer to submit additional documentation regarding the number of first sale units in order to ensure that the assessment is proper. Any apple producer who fails to pay the assessment required under this section may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars for each day during which such nonpayment continues after receipt of an assessment under this subsection.
(c) Any revenues received during any marketing season and not expended may be paid by the commissioner at the end of the marketing season on a pro-rata basis to those apple producers who paid the assessment or may be carried over to the next marketing season as the commissioner deems necessary.
(d) Any broker, distributor or handler who, at the request of the producer, deducts the amount of the assessment due on the first sale units sold or transferred from storage, shall be liable for accounting and payment of such assessment.
(e) Any money collected by the commissioner pursuant to the provisions of this section shall not be deemed state funds and shall be deposited pursuant to section 4-33, in a qualified public depository in Connecticut. Such funds shall be expended by the commissioner for expenses incurred in administering the budget recommended by the board.
Sec. 22-54s. Apple Marketing Board. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4-9a, on or before the fifteenth day of the month after the issuance of a market order the commissioner shall appoint an Apple Marketing Board consisting of six apple producers, a member of the general public and the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, or his designee, who shall be a nonvoting member of the board. The members who are apple producers shall be appointed from nominations submitted by the Connecticut Pomological Society or any apple producer. Three of the apple producers shall be from the area west of the Connecticut River and three shall be from the area east of said river. The commissioner shall also appoint three alternate members of the commission, one from the area west of the Connecticut River, one from the area east of said river and one who is a member of the general public. Alternates may attend all meetings of the board. If a regular member of the board from an area is absent, the chairperson may designate the alternate from such area to act. The members shall serve terms of three years, provided of the members first appointed, two members, one from each district, shall serve for a term of one year; two members, one from each district shall serve for a term of two years, and two members, one from each district, shall serve for a term of three years. The alternates and the member representing the general public shall be appointed for terms of three years. Members of the board shall receive no compensation for their services but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses in the performance of their duties. Such expenses shall be paid from money collected by the commissioner in accordance with the provisions of section 22-54r. At its first meeting the board shall elect a chairperson and such other officers as it deems necessary. Four members who are apple producers and the member representing the general public shall constitute a quorum.
(b) The board shall: (1) Implement the market order with the commissioner's approval and on or before August fifteenth of each marketing season shall prepare and submit to the commissioner a budget to administer the order and the program created thereunder; (2) conduct marketing research beneficial to the apple industry in the state; (3) assist the commissioner in the collection of the assessment imposed pursuant to section 22-54r and (4) recommend revisions to the market order. The board shall prepare and, upon approval of the commissioner, conduct a publicity program to maintain and enhance existing apple markets and create new markets. Such program shall not refer to any particular brand or trade name or disparage the quality, value, sale or use of any other agricultural commodity. The board shall annually appoint an auditor to audit the funds collected pursuant to section 22-54r. The auditor, appointed pursuant to this subsection, shall submit a copy of the audit report to the Auditors of Public Accounts.
(c) Each apple producer shall file with the board, on forms provided by the board, information on the harvested crop of such producer, including the number of first sale units and the disposition of such units at fresh markets, cold storage or other destinations. The board shall provide the commissioner with such information as the commissioner deems necessary to fulfill the purposes of sections 22-54p to 22-54t, inclusive.
Sec. 22-54t. Penalty. Any person who violates any provision of a market order adopted pursuant to section 22-54q shall have committed an infraction.