Bill Summary for S 711 (2017-2018)

Printer-friendly: Click to view

Summary date: 

Jun 5 2018

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
Senate Bill 711 (Public) Filed Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Intro. by B. Jackson, Cook, Sanderson.

View: All Summaries for BillTracking:

Bill summary

Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition. 

Deletes the contents of the previous edition and instead provides the following.

Section 1

Repeals Article 44 of GS Chapter 106 (Unfair Practices by Handlers of Fruits and Vegetables) and enacts Article 44A of GS Chapter 106, titled Fruit and Vegetable Handlers Registration Act. Sets out defined terms applicable to new Article 44A. Requires a handler to register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) prior to conducting business in the state. Defines handler to mean any person in the business of buying, receiving, selling, exchanging, negotiating, processing for resale, or soliciting the sale, resale, exchange, or transfer of any fruits and vegetables purchased from a North Carolina farmer, received on consignment from a North Carolina farmer, or received to be handled on net return basis from a North Carolina farmer. Provides that the registration is free of cost. Details the required registration information required of handlers to submit to DACS. Requires handlers to update DACS within 60 days of any change in the registration information, and requires handlers to annually update DACS by February 1 of the annual volume, in dollar amount, of fruits and vegetables handled by the handler in North Carolina. Makes information collected under Article 44A confidential.

Exempts from the provisions of Article 44A: (1) a farmer or group of farmers in the sale of fruits and vegetables they produced themselves; (2) a handler who pays at the time of purchase with US cash or a cash equivalent; (3) a restaurant; and (4) a retailer that sells fruits and vegetables to end-use consumers through retail establishments or food stands operated by the company, its affiliates, or subsidiaries.

Allows the Board of Agriculture to adopt rules to implement Article 44A.

Authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture to access a civil penalty for violation of Article 44A or rules adopted thereunder not to exceed $100 per violation. Adds that civil penalties for failure to register or provide updated information as required can only be issued after a 15-calendar-day notice has been provided to the handler and the handler subsequently fails to remedy the deficiency within 15 days. Further authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture to apply for a temporary and/or permanent injunction, issued without bond, restraining any person from violating or continuing to violate any provision of Article 44A or any rule adopted thereunder.

Effective January 1, 2019, and applies to handlers conducting business in the State on or after that date.

Section 2

Amends GS 106-24.1, establishing that all information generated by any federal agency received pursuant to GS Chapter 106 that is confidential under federal law must be held confidential by DACS and its employees, unless confidentiality is waived by the federal agency (previously, more specifically applied to information received pursuant to Article 1, Part 5, of GS Chapter 106 concerning cooperation between the Department, the US Department of Agriculture, and County Commissioners; also previously did not provide for agency waiver).

Section 3

Amends GS 66-28, exempting DACS's promotion of Got to Be NC from the general prohibition against governmental units selling merchandise or services.

Section 4

Amends the definitions set out in GS 106-568.51 that are applicable to Article 50E of GS Chapter 106 regarding industrial hemp. Adds the term verified propagule and defines the term to mean a seed or clone from an industrial hemp plant from which THC concentration samples have been tested by a qualified laboratory and confirmed as having a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration less than that adopted by federal law in the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC 801, et seq.). Modifies the term hemp products to include all products made from verified propagules for cultivation if the seed originates from industrial hemp varieties. Makes conforming change to delete the term certified seed

Section 5

Amends the following statutes concerning forestry to refer to the Commissioner of Agriculture instead of the Secretary of DACS: (1) GS 106-980, GS 106-981, and GS 106-982 (concerning the formation, organization, and directors of private limited dividend corporations created and approved by the Commissioner to finance and carry out projects for the protection and development of forests); (2) GS 106-1003 (concerning the deposit of receipts of all monies paid to the Commissioner for forestry services rendered under Article 82 with the State treasury); and (3) GS 106-1012(2) (defining approved practices under the Forest Development Act to mean silvicultural practices approved by the Commissioner for the purposes specified).

Section 6

Directs DACS to immediately develop an enforcement plan to enforce the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s standard of identity for milk, defined in 21 CFR 131.110 and the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, as adopted by the North Carolina Administrative Code, to prohibit the sale of plant-based products mislabeled as milk. Defines milk to mean the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy hooved mammals. Provides that hooved mammals include but are not limited to cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, yaks, llamas, alpacas, camels, deer, reindeer, moose, horses, and donkeys. Requires DACS to begin implementation of its enforcement plan no later than 90 days after the effective date of the act. Requires the plan to include notification of DACS's intent to embargo all mislabeled products offered for sale in the state. Requires all plant-based products displayed for sale in the state to be labeled in accordance with the FDA's standard of identity for milk and the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance no later than January 1, 2019.

Section 7

Amends GS 120-150, establishing that a quorum of the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission is nine members. 

Section 8

Directs the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission (Commission) to study (1) requiring holders of unused rights-of-way and utility easements to offer the easements to the underlying property owners for fair market value and (2) the advisability of excluding property enrolled in present use value taxation from rural fire protection district and county service district taxes. Requires the Commission to complete the studies and report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1, 2019.

Section 9

Amends GS 106-741 to mandate that all counties require land records to include some form of notice to alert persons searching the title of a tract that the tract is located within one-half mile of a poultry, swine, or dairy qualifying farm, within 600 feet of any other qualifying farm, or within one-half mile of a voluntary agricultural district (currently, authorizes any county with a computerized land records system to require notice of proximity as described). 

Section 10

Amends GS 106-700, which establishes the purpose of Article 57 is to reduce the loss to the state of its agricultural and forestry resources by limiting circumstances under which an agricultural or forestry operation can be deemed to be a nuisance. Modifies the existing policy language to state the finding that when there are changed conditions in the locality near agricultural and forestry areas, including other land uses that extend into agricultural and forestry areas, agricultural and forestry operations often become the subject of nuisance suits (currently, the finding does not concern changed conditions in the locality near agricultural and forestry areas). 

Amends GS 106-701, which establishes that an agricultural and forestry operation does not constitute a nuisance by any changed conditions in or about the locality outside of the operation after the operation has been in operation for more than one year so long as the operation was not a nuisance at the time the operation began. Adds language defining the term changed conditions to include, but not be limited to, a change in ownership, occupancy, or the use of the property that is affected by the alleged nuisance. Establishes a presumption that activities conducted by an agricultural or forestry operation are presumed not to be a nuisance unless the plaintiff shows by clear and convincing evidence that the operation has not been managed in a manner consistent with: (1) generally accepted practices, methods, or procedures that are routinely used by other agricultural and forestry operations in the region and (2) applicable laws and regulations. Eliminates the exemptions for a nuisance that results from the negligent or improper operation of any agricultural or forestry operation or its appurtenances from the statute's provisions or those existing or later adopted local nuisance ordinances voided by the statute.

Section 11

Directs the Utilities Commission to adopt rules to establish reasonable limitations on the amount by which a natural gas local distribution company can increase its margin revenues in an agreement between the natural gas local distribution company and a customer that provides for cost recovery in connection with the construction of facilities and extension of natural gas service to a property used for bona fide farm purposes, in the event that actual construction costs exceed the estimated construction costs provided in the agreement. Requires the Utilities Commission to adopt the rules no later than October 1, 2018.

Section 12

Amends GS 139-7.2, modifying the continuing education requirements for soil and water conservation district supervisors to require all district supervisors to complete a minimum of six hours of training per term of service (currently, requires a minimum of six hours of training annually).

Amends GS 105-164.13, establishing a sales and use tax exemption for the sales of items listed in GS 105-164.13E purchased by a qualifying farmer for use in a zoo operated by a qualifying farmer. GS 105-164.13E exempts from sales and use tax specified tangible personal property, digital property, and services that are purchased by a qualifying farmer and used by the farmer for farming operation purposes. Adds that income from zoo operations are excluded for purposes of the income requirement for a qualifying farmer, as defined in existing GS 105-164.13E(a) (requiring at least $10,000 farming operation average income or $10,000 farming operation income preceding taxable year). Effective retroactively to January 1, 2011, and applies to purchases made on or after that date. Provides for an opportunity to apply to the Department of Revenue on or before January 1, 2019, for a refund of any excess tax paid to the extent the refund is the result of the change in law as enacted. Bars a request for a refund after January 1, 2019, and establishes that the excessive or erroneous collections provisions of GS 105-164.11 do not apply. 

Section 14

Amends GS 105-317.1 concerning the appraisal of personal property. Adds descriptors to each existing subsection. Adds new subsection providing for the uniform appraisal of farm equipment, allowing the appraiser to use any of the nine appraisal elements listed in subsection (a) of the statute and requiring the appraiser to consider relevant taxpayer information required in subsection (b). Directs the Department of Revenue to publish and make available on its website a depreciation schedule for farm equipment to assist counties that use the cost approach to appraise this equipment. Requires counties that use a cost approach method to appraise farm equipment using the published depreciation schedule. Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2019.

Section 15

Amends GS 105-278.2(a) regarding the burial property tax exemption. Specifies that no property exemption application is required under GS 105-282.1 for burial property exempt under the subsection. Prohibits a county from denying the exemption to a taxpayer that lacks a survey or plat detailing the exempt property. 

Section 16

Provides a severability clause.