106-564.1.  Alternate method for collection of assessments.

As an alternate method for the collection of assessments provided for in G.S. 106-564, and upon the request of the duly certified agency of the producers of any agricultural products referred to in G.S. 106-550, the Commissioner of Agriculture  shall notify, by registered letter, all persons, firms and corporations engaged in the business of purchasing any such agricultural products in this State, that on and after the date specified in the letter the assessments shall be deducted by the purchaser, or his agent or representative, from the purchase price of any such agricultural products. The assessment so deducted, shall, on or before the first day of June of each year following such deduction or at regular intervals during the year following such deductions, be remitted by such purchaser to the Commissioner of Agriculture of North Carolina who shall thereupon pay the amount of the assessments to the duly certified agency of the producers entitled thereto. The books and records of all such purchasers of agricultural products shall at all times during regular business hours be open for inspection by the Commissioner of Agriculture or his duly authorized agents.

For the purposes of this Article the Commissioner may designate the duly certified agency of the producers as his agent to conduct inspections or audits of the books of the purchaser of such agricultural products. If it is discovered, as the result of such inspection or audit, that such purchaser has willfully failed to remit assessments when due, then such purchaser shall be liable to the duly certified producers agency for the reasonable costs of such inspection or audit. Such costs may be recovered by the agency by an action against the purchaser in a court of competent jurisdiction. The agency shall also be entitled to recover from such purchaser a penalty of five percent (5%) of the amount due for each month it remains unpaid, not to exceed twenty percent (20%) of the total amount due.

Any packer, processor or other purchaser who originally purchases from the grower, apples grown in North Carolina, shall collect from the grower thereof any marketing assessment due under the provisions of Article 50 of Chapter 106 and shall remit the same to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Upon failure of said packer, processor or other purchaser to collect and remit said assessment then the amount of the assessment shall become the obligation of the packer, processor or other purchaser who originally purchased the apples from the grower and he shall become liable therefor to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Failure of the packer, processor or other purchaser to comply with the provisions of this section shall constitute a bar to engaging in said business in this State upon proper notice from the Board of Agriculture. The Board of Agriculture shall have authority to promulgate such rules and regulations as shall be necessary to carry out the purpose and intent of this section. (1953, c. 917; 1969, c. 605, s. 3; 1975, c. 708, s. 2; 1983, c. 395; 1997-261, s. 109.)