|1570.0100||AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE.|
|1570.0300||CREATION OF A COUNCIL.|
|1570.0400||OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.|
|1570.0500||POWERS AND DUTIES OF COUNCIL.|
|1570.0800||GENERAL POLLING PROCEDURES.|
|1570.0900||ADMINISTRATION OF PROMOTIONAL ORDERS.|
This chapter is prescribed by the commissioner pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, sections 17.54, subdivision 4, 17.58, subdivision 4, and 17.63, to provide for the organization and meetings of commodity councils, to provide general voting procedures for elections, and to provide for the administration of promotional orders.
34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010
For the purposes of this chapter, the terms defined in this chapter have the meanings given them, and the terms "agricultural commodity," "cooperative," "council," "first handler," "first purchaser," "marketing year," "participating producer," and "promotional order" have the meanings given them in Minnesota Statutes, section 17.53.
"Check-off fee" means the amount set by the council and stated in the promotional order that each participating producer must pay to finance the activities proposed in the promotional order.
"Chief administrative officer" means the individual employed by the council to perform duties prescribed by the council. "Chief administrative officer" means the same as "executive director," "executive secretary," and "manager" where they appear in promotional orders.
"Commissioner" means the commissioner of agriculture or the commissioner's designee.
"Compliance list" means a list of the names of the first handlers or first purchasers of an agricultural commodity under a promotional order who have paid check-off fees to the council within the time prescribed by the council for their payment.
"Designated voter" means a family member who has a written authorization from an individual participating producer who is a qualified voter to vote in the individual participating producer's stead at the time and in the place where the election or referendum is being held.
"Election" means a vote of the participating producers of any commodity to create a first council, select members of subsequent councils, or decide a referendum.
"Fiduciary" means any estate, trust, conservatorship, or guardianship organized or recognized under Minnesota law.
"Noncompliance list" means a compilation of the names of the first handlers or first purchasers of an agricultural commodity under a promotional order who have not paid check-off fees to the council within the time prescribed by the council for the payment.
"Organized area" means the area determined in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.54, subdivision 3, or areas defined elsewhere in Minnesota law for the purposes of Minnesota Statutes, sections 17.51 to 17.69.
"Petitioners" means a group of producers who request either the creation of the first council or a referendum at any time during a promotional order by submitting a petition signed by 1,000 producers or 15 percent of the producers to be covered by a promotional order, whichever is less, in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.54, subdivision 1.
"Producer certification" means a document qualified voters must sign which affirms that they are producers of the particular agricultural commodity for which an election is being held, that they meet the qualifications for a producer set forth in the promotional order, and that they are casting only one vote each in the election.
"Proof of paid check-off fee" means a check stub, a sales invoice, a photostatic copy of a check stub or sales invoice, or a statement on the first purchaser's or first handler's letterhead stationery signed by an officer or responsible representative of the first purchaser or first handler submitted as evidence of a producer's payment of a check-off fee to a first purchaser or first handler. Any proof of paid check-off fee must have a date on it.
"Referendum" means an election held to begin, continue, suspend, amend, or terminate a promotional order, or an election held to increase or decrease the amount of check-off fees under the promotional order.
27 SR 377; 34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010
Upon receipt of a petition to create a council developed in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.54, subdivision 1, the commissioner shall take the following actions:
determine the size of the council and the distribution of council membership in consultation with the petitioners;
appoint a nominating committee to nominate producer candidates for council positions in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.54, subdivision 3;
conduct an election to select the first council in accordance with part 1570.0700, subpart 1; and
January 5, 2005
Each council shall elect from its own membership a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and other officers deemed appropriate by the council. An executive committee of no more than five members, including the officers, may also be elected by the council. The council officers and executive committee members shall have the powers and fulfill the duties in part 1570.0500 or delegate them to a chief administrative officer.
17 SR 1279
January 5, 2005
The council shall convene and conduct meetings in accordance with part 1570.0600.
The council shall participate in the formulation and administration of promotional orders in accordance with part 1570.0900.
With the approval of the commissioner, the council shall appoint, employ, discharge, fix compensation for, and prescribe the duties of the first chief administrative officer of the council. Subsequent chief administrative officers and all other personnel employed do not require the commissioner's approval. The council and commissioner shall determine the amount of bond required for all individuals on the council and all individuals employed by the council who control, handle, expend, or deposit check-off fees or other funds, including those individuals authorized to sign checks.
The council shall take the actions listed in items A and B:
The council shall prepare an annual estimated budget for the operation of the promotional order and submit it to the commissioner within 30 days of the first day of the fiscal year unless the promotional order directs otherwise. Budgets may be revised during the fiscal year. If they are, the commissioner must be notified within 20 days of the revision. Minutes of the council meeting, documenting the changes and the reasons for them, shall constitute notification to the commissioner. Budgets or budget revisions may be prepared on forms provided by the commissioner or on similar forms.
The council shall consult with banks where funds are deposited regarding check signing procedures. No more than four authorized signatures of council members, the chief administrative officer, or council employees may be provided to the bank, two of which must appear on all checks except refund checks. Refund checks require only one signature, which may be any one of the four authorized.
A council may establish a petty cash account after a favorable vote by a majority of the council members, provided that the use of these funds is consistent with the purposes of Minnesota Statutes, sections 17.51 to 17.69, and this chapter. The bond for the council and its staff must be sufficient to cover the amounts in any petty cash accounts created pursuant to this subpart.
The council shall keep a record of the following materials and shall make reasonable arrangements for the time and place of inspection of the records by the public:
the council's annual budgets and financial statements;
annual reports on promotional order programs of the previous marketing year required under Minnesota Statutes, section 17.57, subdivision 3;
minutes of all council and executive committee meetings documenting all actions;
noncompliance lists related to the promotional order, which must be submitted to the commissioner on a semiannual basis;
information and data collected for the proper administration of promotional orders in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.57, subdivision 4; and
any other information deemed by the commissioner or council to be reasonably related to the organization of the council or to the administration of its promotional order.
The council may authorize the executive committee to meet as needed to handle any matter prescribed by the council. At a regularly scheduled meeting of the council, any council member may inquire into the actions taken by the executive committee. Minutes of the executive committee meetings shall be sent to all council members, the commissioner, and the commissioner's designee in accordance with part 1570.0600, subpart 5.
For councils that gross less than $150,000 annually, every third audit must be an audit of financial statements and a compliance audit.
For the other two years, a financial review must be conducted as prescribed by the most current edition of the Financial Accounting Standards Board's Current Text, which is incorporated by reference, subject to frequent change, and located at the State Law Library and on the Internet at http://www.fasb.org/st/.
18 SR 2277; 27 SR 377; 34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010
The chief administrative officer shall arrange dates and physical facilities for meetings of the council and executive committee after consultation with the council chair or vice-chair and the commissioner. The chief administrative officer shall also send written notice by U.S. mail, fax, or e-mail of the time and place of the meeting to all council members, the commissioner, and the commissioner's designee at least seven days in advance of council meetings.
An agenda for each council meeting shall be formulated by the chief administrative officer in consultation with the council chair or vice-chair and shall be mailed with the meeting notice. Additional items may be included by council members or the commissioner at the time of the meeting.
The council shall meet at least four times annually in a location that is reasonably accessible to all council members. Telephone and video conferencing are permitted and may replace actual meetings. The executive committee shall meet as frequently as authorized by the council in a location that is reasonably accessible to all executive committee members. Telephone and video conferencing may be held in lieu of actual meetings.
A majority of the members of a council constitutes a quorum for the transaction of all business in carrying out council duties.
All actions and decisions taken at meetings of the council and the executive committee must be documented in the minutes. At least one copy of the minutes signed by the presiding officer and the secretary must be kept in the council's permanent file. Copies of minutes must be sent to all council members and submitted to the commissioner and to the commissioner's designee within 30 days of the date of each meeting.
17 SR 1279; 27 SR 377; 34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010
The procedures in items A to C must be followed in electing the first council:
Upon receipt of nominations for council offices, the commissioner shall promptly arrange for an election, designate polling places reasonably convenient for the producers of the particular agricultural commodity, and provide notice via press release of the election to all media having a general circulation in the organized area.
The commissioner shall make available ballots which set forth the names of the nominated candidates and shall provide space for write-in candidates at all polling places. Mail balloting is permitted in accordance with part 1570.0800, subpart 5.
Only qualified voters may vote in an election of the first council.
In addition to the procedures for electing the first council in subpart 1, the commissioner shall take the following actions in subsequent council elections:
determine the manner of selecting the nominating committee;
set the time limit for accepting nominations; and
set the times and places of subsequent elections.
If a council chooses to redistrict, the term of all present council board members terminates when a new council is elected and takes office. Present council members may run in the newly formed district for the next term. The term of each council member is determined by lot in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.54, subdivision 5.
The procedures in items A to G must be followed in conducting a referendum:
The council, in consultation with the commissioner, shall set the time and places for the referendum when required under part 1570.0800, subpart 4.
The commissioner shall conduct a referendum in accordance with the general polling procedures outlined in part 1570.0800.
The commissioner shall publish a notice of the referendum, including time and place, in legal newspapers with general circulation in the organized area and shall provide notice to other media at least ten days in advance of the date of the referendum.
The commissioner shall provide a complete copy of the promotional order to be voted on to each county extension office and Farm Service Agency office in the organized areas.
Only qualified voters may vote in referendums.
The promotional order shall become effective, suspended, amended, or terminated if approved by a majority of the qualified voters who vote in the referendum.
If a referendum fails, the commissioner shall not conduct another referendum on any promotional order for the same agricultural commodity until one year has elapsed.
Petitioners must deposit with the commissioner in advance an amount sufficient to defray the expenses of electing the first council, formulating the initial promotional order, conducting the first referendum, and issuing that promotional order. The funds will be deposited in accordance with part 1570.0900, subpart 7. Full reimbursement will be made to petitioners by the council when the promotional order is adopted and funds are available from the collection of check-off fees. Petitioners may choose to leave the funds from this reimbursement with the council. Partial reimbursement on a pro rata basis shall be made by the commissioner in cases where the referendum fails and there are funds remaining after the expenses of conducting it are paid. Subsequent elections and referendums will be financed by the council.
27 SR 377; 29 SR 655; 34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010
Participating producers who may vote in any election must meet all the conditions in subpart 2 and at least one of the conditions in subpart 3. All qualified voters or designated voters must sign the producer certification at the time they vote.
The conditions in items A to D apply to all qualified voters:
Persons, firms, universities, colleges, foundations, landlords, tenants, or fiduciaries may cast one vote only if they are eligible to file an Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 Schedule F and if they have shared in the profits and risk of loss from producing the particular agricultural commodity during the current or preceding marketing year.
A voter, except a designated voter, even if the voter represents a corporation, association, cooperative, or partnership, must meet Minnesota's general election voting age requirements.
Absentee mail voting by qualified voters is permitted. To receive an absentee ballot, a qualified voter must submit a ballot request card to the commissioner. The completed ballot and signed producer certification must be returned to the commissioner by United States mail and postmarked no later than midnight 20 days prior to the official election date. The commissioner must maintain a list of voters from whom absentee ballots have been received and shall provide a copy of the list to all voting sites prior to the start of the election. Mail balloting is permitted only in accordance with subpart 5.
No individual, landlord, tenant, partnership, association, cooperative, corporation, fiduciary, firm, university, college, or foundation may cast more than one vote per election even if operations are carried on in more than one organized area of the council.
The specific provisions in items A to E apply to the qualified voters named:
Each individual production unit may cast only one vote. Either spouse may cast this vote if both operate the production unit but both may not vote.
Both a landlord and a tenant may vote if each meets the criteria in subpart 2, item A.
A partnership, whether in two or more names or in the name of a firm, may cast only one vote. The parties to the partnership must determine which one of them will cast the vote for the partnership.
An association, cooperative, or corporation may cast only one vote. Any officer of an association, cooperative, or corporation may cast its vote.
A fiduciary may cast only one vote. Only the legal guardian of a fiduciary may cast its vote, even if a husband and wife are jointly carrying on the farming operation subject to a fiduciary arrangement.
The procedures in items A and B must be followed whenever an election will be held at established polling places.
Election judges will be selected by the commissioner in consultation with the council. Judges must not indicate their opinions about the election on the day of the election. Each polling place must have at least one judge. The judges are to do the following:
meet at the polling place at least one-half hour before voting begins;
assure that at least one judge remains at the polling place at all times to oversee the polling process;
take an oath of election judges and sign the form provided by the commissioner before the polling begins;
monitor the placement of ballots into the ballot box and be responsible for the overall security of the polling process;
have each qualified or designated voter write the qualified voter's name, organization, title, and county of business, when appropriate, on a producer certification to be provided by the commissioner and have each qualified or designated voter sign the producer certification. The written authorization of the designated voter must be attached to the producer certification;
initial the back of the ballot and give it to each qualified or designated voter provided the qualified or designated voter has signed the producer certification;
provide each qualified or designated voter with the voter instruction sheet provided by the commissioner;
collect a signed producer certification at the time a qualified or designated voter places a ballot in the ballot box;
contact the commissioner as soon as practicable with the total number of completed ballots and assure that the proper chain of custody of the ballots is taken;
complete the certification of election judges form, provided by the commissioner, after the polls have closed; and
return all the voting materials listed in item B to the commissioner.
The election judges shall return the following voting materials to the commissioner by first class mail: completed ballots, signed producer certifications, judges' oath forms, certification of election form, and any expense vouchers. The election judges handbook must be retained by the chief judge for 30 days after the election and then destroyed. Any unused ballots or producer certifications must also be destroyed.
For any election conducted by mail, the procedures in items A to E must be followed:
A council must make available ballot request cards and advertise the forthcoming board elections or referenda at least 90 days prior to the election. A list of eligible voters must be submitted by the council to the commissioner at least 45 days before the starting date of the election. Ballot request cards and eligible voter lists submitted to the commissioner less than 45 days before the starting date of an election must not be included in the list of eligible voters for that election, but those names must be added to the list for future elections.
The commissioner shall mail to all producers that sent in a ballot request card or to all participating producers on the council's list a ballot, a producer certification, a voter instruction sheet, and a return envelope.
The length of time for the mail balloting shall be determined by the commissioner for each election, but must not be less than 14 days and must not exceed 30 days.
If a participating producer of the agricultural commodity for which an election is being conducted by mail has not received the voting materials listed in item B by the time half of the time period in item C has elapsed, the participating producer or the council may telephone, e-mail, or write the commissioner to request that the voting materials be mailed directly to the participating producer.
In order to be counted, mail ballots must be returned to the commissioner and must be postmarked on or before the closing date of the election set by the commissioner under item C.
The procedures in items A and B must be followed in dairy industry referendums:
Dairy cooperative associations may choose to bloc vote their producers in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 17.54, subdivision 12. The commissioner shall provide the dairy cooperative association with appropriate voting materials.
Private dairy processors must file with the commissioner a list of their participating producers marketing the bulk of their production with the private dairy processor. The commissioner shall use this list and the procedures in subpart 5 in mail balloting producers with private dairy processors during a referendum on any dairy promotional order.
The commissioner shall follow the procedures in items A to D in certifying an election:
Before certifying an election conducted in accordance with subpart 4, the commissioner shall assure that:
all materials required in subpart 4, item B, are returned to the commissioner;
all completed ballots are initialed on the back by an election judge, and there is no more than one vote per question on the completed ballot;
the oath of election judges form is signed;
all producer certifications are signed; and
the judges' certification of election form is signed.
Before certifying an election conducted in accordance with subpart 5, the commissioner shall assure that:
returned ballots and producer certifications have been postmarked by the closing date set in subpart 5, item C;
there is no more than one vote per question on the ballot; and
the producer certifications are signed.
If any one of the criteria in item A, subitem (2), or B is not met, the commissioner shall declare the individual ballots invalid and shall not count them toward the outcome of the election.
Ballots received may be counted mechanically or an impartial committee of at least three people appointed by the commissioner shall count the ballots received from the elections conducted under subpart 4 or 5.
17 SR 1279; 21 SR 1059; 27 SR 377; 29 SR 655; 34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010
The first council shall meet within 15 days of certification of its election, and subsequent councils shall meet whenever appropriate, to formulate a promotional order, including the amount of a check-off fee to be paid by producers of the agricultural commodity to finance the proposed activities.
Before any referendum is conducted, the commissioner shall consult with the council and shall hold public hearings on the proposed promotional order in organized areas. Upon completion of the hearings, the commissioner and council shall determine whether the promotional order will be amended, modified, or supplemented. If a promotional order is substantially changed by this process, the commissioner shall hold further public hearings on the changed promotional order. Upon completion of these hearings, the commissioner shall conduct a referendum according to parts 1570.0700, subpart 3, and 1570.0800. The hearings in this part are not subject to Minnesota Statutes, chapter 14.
The procedures in items A to E must be used by the council in collecting the check-off fees from first purchasers or first handlers:
The council must determine the type of check-off fee system to be used for the particular agricultural commodity.
The council must determine the first handler or first purchaser for the agricultural commodity. First handlers or first purchasers are responsible for collecting from participating producers and remitting the check-off fee to the council by the date stated in the promotional order.
The council must provide forms for the first handler or first purchaser to use in collecting and remitting check-off fees.
The council must monitor the compliance of each first handler or first purchaser with the terms of the promotional order and maintain a compliance list. In instances where the first handler or the first purchaser is not complying with the terms of the promotional order for collecting and remitting check-off fees, the procedures in subpart 5 must be followed.
The council or chief executive officer must deposit check-off fees collected in a federally insured depository institution. Any deposited amount in excess of the maximum amount insured under federal law must be secured by the federally insured depository institution. Deposits may be used for either checking or investment, but not for purposes inconsistent with Minnesota Statutes, sections 17.51 to 17.69, or this chapter.
The procedures in items A to F must be followed for those councils whose check-off fees are refundable:
Any participating producer wishing a refund of a check-off fee must submit a refund application form to the commissioner.
Upon receipt of the completed refund application form and the proof of paid check-off fee, the commissioner will verify that the information on the refund application form is valid and will forward the original copy of the refund application form and proof of paid check-off fee to the council. Requests for refunds must be received by the commissioner within the time prescribed in the promotional order for the particular agricultural commodity in order to be valid.
The council may proceed to write a refund check only if the refund application has been approved by the commissioner and if the check-off fee has been sent from the first purchaser or the first handler to the council.
The council shall mail the refund check and the proof of paid check-off fee to the participating producer.
Refunds will be made by the commissioner and the council within 30 days of the date of the commissioner's receipt of the refund application form except when the check-off fee has not yet been received by the council. In those instances, the council shall write the first purchaser or first handler and request remittance of the check-off fee. When the council has received the check-off fee, the council shall send the refund check to the producer.
Requests from participating producers for refunds will not be accepted more than 12 times per calendar year.
The procedures in items A to D shall be followed by the council and commissioner in determining and acting upon noncompliance by first handlers or first purchasers whose check-off fee collection or other information required under subpart 3, item B, is not current:
The council shall maintain a current noncompliance list as noted in part 1570.0500, subpart 6, item D, and shall use it to determine when a first handler or first purchaser has become delinquent in collecting and remitting check-off fees, based on the remittance period provided in the promotional order.
Either the council or the chief administrative officer shall investigate the reason for noncompliance and make written notation of the date and individual contacted whether by a telephone call, visit, or mail. If a second contact is by mail, the letter must be certified.
If no response is forthcoming after two contacts have been made, the council may request that the commissioner write to the delinquent first handler or first purchaser and to the producer whose check-off fee is delayed. The council's request must be accompanied by the noncompliance list, a summary of the steps that have already been taken, and a statement of the length of the noncompliance period. The commissioner's letter must be certified.
If there is still no response from the delinquent first handler or first purchaser after the steps in items A to C have been taken, the council may engage legal counsel to pursue the matter.
A promotional order for an agricultural commodity may be suspended or terminated pursuant to this subpart. Public hearings conducted by the commissioner prior to the suspension or termination of a promotional order will not be held pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, chapter 14. No suspension or termination of a promotional order shall take effect until the end of the current marketing year.
After consultation between the council and the commissioner, and after a public hearing and findings by the council that a promotional order is contrary to or does not effectuate the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, sections 17.51 to 17.69, or a finding that it is economically unfeasible to continue operating, the council may suspend or terminate a promotional order with the approval of a majority of the qualified voters who vote in the referendum.
Within 60 days of receipt of a petition from the same number of producers required to initiate a promotional order, which includes a statement that the signatures are those of participating producers, the commissioner shall conduct a referendum according to parts 1570.0700, subpart 3, and 1570.0800. A majority vote of the qualified voters who vote in the referendum will suspend or terminate the promotional order.
"Suspension" means discontinuing the collection of check-off fees from first purchasers as required under Minnesota Statutes, section 17.59, and the meeting requirements under part 1570.0600 for one year. During the suspension, a commodity council must continue to honor all legal and contractual obligations, submit to the audit requirements under Minnesota Statutes, section 17.58, subdivision 5, and the corresponding rules, and meet no later than six months before the end of the marketing year to decide whether to terminate. If the council decides not to terminate pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 17.64, the council must hold elections for those council members whose terms expire during the suspension before the beginning of the next marketing year. All council duties and activities will resume beginning the next marketing year. The council is responsible for notifying first purchasers of the suspension, termination, or resuming of collecting of check-off fees. A commodity council shall only suspend for one year and must either terminate or resume activities within the following 12 months.
34 SR 1327
April 6, 2010