- § 499a. Short title and definitions
- § 499b. Unfair conduct
- § 499b-1. Products produced in distinct geographic areas
- § 499c. Licenses
- § 499d. Issuance of license
- § 499e. Liability to persons injured
- § 499f. Complaints, written notifications, and investigations
- § 499g. Reparation order
- § 499h. Grounds for suspension or revocation of license
- § 499i. Accounts, records, and memoranda; duty of licensees to keep; contents; suspension of license for violation of duty
- § 499j. Orders; effective date; continuance in force; suspension, modification and setting aside; penalty
- § 499k. Injunctions; application of injunction laws governing orders of Interstate Commerce Commission
- § 499l. Violations; report to Attorney General; proceedings; costs
- § 499m. Complaints; procedure, penalties, etc.
- § 499n. Inspection of perishable agricultural commodities
- § 499o. Rules, regulations, and orders; appointment, removal, and compensation of officers and employees; expenditures; authorization of appropriations; abrogation of inconsistent statutes
- § 499p. Liability of licensees for acts and omissions of agents
- § 499q. Separability
- § 499r. Repealed.
- § 499s. Depositing appropriations in fund
- § 499t. Omitted
This chapter may be cited as the “Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, 1930”.
A violation of this section shall be considered a violation of paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 2 of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (7 U.S.C. 499b(4) and (5)).
A person bringing a complaint under this section shall reimburse the Secretary of Agriculture for any and all costs associated with the enforcement of this section.
The Secretary of Agriculture shall not increase any fees charged under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act [7 U.S.C. 499a et seq.] to offset costs associated with the operation of this section.
The Secretary shall promulgate regulations to carry out this section.
After December 10, 1930, no person shall at any time carry on the business of a commission merchant, dealer, or broker without a license valid and effective at such time. Any person who violates any provision of this subsection shall be liable to a penalty of not more than $1,000 for each such offense and not more than $250 for each day it continues, which shall accrue to the United States and may be recovered in a civil suit brought by the United States.
Any person violating this provision may, upon a showing satisfactory to the Secretary of Agriculture, or his authorized representative, that such violation was not willful but was due to inadvertence, be permitted by the Secretary, or such representative, to settle his liability in the matter by the payment of the fees due for the period covered by such violation and an additional sum, not in excess of $250, to be fixed by the Secretary of Agriculture or his authorized representative. Such payment shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States in the same manner as regular license fees.
Any person desiring any such license shall make application to the Secretary. The Secretary may by regulation prescribe the information to be contained in such application and to be furnished thereafter.
Upon the filing of an application under paragraph (1), the applicant shall pay such license fees, both individually and in the aggregate, as the Secretary determines necessary to meet the reasonably anticipated expenses for administering this chapter and the Act to prevent the destruction or dumping of farm produce, approved March 3, 1927 (7 U.S.C. 491–497). Thereafter, the licensee shall pay such license fees annually or at such longer interval as the Secretary may prescribe. The Secretary shall take due account of savings to the program when determining an appropriate interval for renewal of licenses. The Secretary shall establish and alter license fees only by rulemaking under section 553 of title 5, except that the Secretary may not alter the fees required under paragraph (3) or (4) for retailers and grocery wholesalers that are dealers. Effective on November 15, 1995, and until such time as the Secretary alters such fees by rule, an individual license fee shall equal $550 per year, plus $200 for each branch or additional business facility operated by the applicant in excess of nine such facilities, as determined by the Secretary, subject to an annual aggregate limit of $4,000 per licensee. Any increase in license fees prescribed by the Secretary under this paragraph shall not take effect unless the Secretary determines that, without such increase, the funds on hand as of the end of the fiscal year in which the increase takes effect will be less than 25 percent of the projected budget to administer this chapter and such Act for the next fiscal year. In no case may a license fee increase by the Secretary take effect before the end of the three-year period beginning on November 15, 1995.
During the three-year period beginning on November 15, 1995, a retailer or grocery wholesaler making an initial application for a license under this section shall pay the license fee required under subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (4) for license renewals in the year in which the initial application is made. After the end of such period, a retailer or grocery wholesaler making an initial application for a license under this section shall pay an administrative fee equal to $100. In either case, a retailer or grocery wholesaler paying a fee under this paragraph shall not be required to pay any fee for renewal of the license for subsequent years.
Such fee, when collected, shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States as a special fund, without fiscal year limitation, to be designated as the “Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Fund”, which shall be available for all expenses necessary to the administration of this chapter and the Act approved March 3, 1927, referred to above. Any reserve funds in the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Fund may be invested by the Secretary in insured or fully-collateralized interest-bearing accounts or, at the discretion of the Secretary, by the Secretary of the Treasury in United States Government debt instruments. Any interest earned on such reserve funds shall be credited to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Fund and shall be available for the same purposes as the fees deposited in such fund. Financial statements prescribed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the last completed fiscal year, and as estimated for the current and ensuing fiscal years, shall be included in the budget as submitted to the Congress annually.
A licensee may conduct business in more than one trade name or change the name under which business is conducted without requiring an additional or new license. The Secretary may disapprove the use of a trade name if, in his opinion, the use of the trade name by the licensee would be deceptive, misleading, or confusing to the trade, and the Secretary may, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, suspend for a period not to exceed ninety days the license of any licensee who continues to use a trade name which the Secretary has disapproved for use by such licensee. The Secretary may refuse to issue a license to an applicant if he finds that the trade name in which the applicant proposes to do business would be deceptive, misleading, or confusing to the trade if used by such applicant.
Whenever an applicant has paid the prescribed fee the Secretary, except as provided elsewhere in this chapter, shall issue to such applicant a license, which shall entitle the licensee to do business as a commission merchant and/or dealer and/or broker unless and until it is suspended or revoked by the Secretary in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or is automatically suspended under section 499g(d) of this title, but said license shall automatically terminate on the anniversary date of the license at the end of the annual or multiyear period covered by the license fee unless the licensee submits the required renewal application and pays the applicable renewal fee (if such fee is required): Provided, That notice of the necessity of renewing the license and of paying the renewal fee (if such fee is required) shall be mailed at least thirty days before the anniversary date: Provided, further, That if the renewal fee (if required) is not paid by the anniversary date the licensee may obtain a renewal of that license at any time within thirty days by paying the fee provided in section 499c(b) of this title, plus $50, which shall be deposited in the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act fund provided for by section 499c(b) of this title: And provided further, That the license of any licensee shall terminate upon said licensee, or in case the licensee is a partnership, any partner, being discharged as a bankrupt, unless the Secretary finds upon examination of the circumstances of such bankruptcy, which he shall examine if requested to do so by said licensee, that such circumstances do not warrant such termination.
An applicant ineligible for a license by reason of the provisions of subsection (b) of this section may, upon the expiration of the two-year period applicable to him, be issued a license by the Secretary if such applicant furnishes a surety bond in the form and amount satisfactory to the Secretary as assurance that his business will be conducted in accordance with this chapter and that he will pay all reparation orders which may be issued against him in connection with transactions occurring within four years following the issuance of the license, subject to his right of appeal under section 499g(c) of this title. In the event such applicant does not furnish such a surety bond, the Secretary shall not issue a license to him until three years have elapsed after the date of the applicable order of the Secretary or decision of the court on appeal. If the surety bond so furnished is terminated for any reason without the approval of the Secretary the license shall be automatically canceled as of the date of such termination and no new license shall be issued to such person during the four-year period without a new surety bond covering the remainder of such period. The Secretary, based on changes in the nature and volume of business conducted by a bonded licensee, may require an increase or authorize a reduction in the amount of the bond. A bonded licensee who is notified by the Secretary to provide a bond in an increased amount shall do so within a reasonable time to be specified by the Secretary, and upon failure of the licensee to provide such bond his license shall be automatically suspended until such bond is provided. The Secretary may not issue a license to an applicant under this subsection if the applicant or any person responsibly connected with the applicant is prohibited from employment with a licensee under section 499h(b) of this title.
The Secretary may withhold the issuance of a license to an applicant, for a period not to exceed thirty days pending an investigation, for the purpose of determining (a) whether the applicant is unfit to engage in the business of a commission merchant, dealer, or broker because the applicant, or in case the applicant is a partnership, any general partner, or in case the applicant is a corporation, any officer or holder of more than 10 per centum of the stock, prior to the date of the filing of the application engaged in any practice of the character prohibited by this chapter or was convicted of a felony in any State or Federal court, or (b) whether the application contains any materially false or misleading statement or involves any misrepresentation, concealment, or withholding of facts respecting any violation of the chapter by any officer, agent, or employee of the applicant. If after investigation the Secretary believes that the applicant should be refused a license, the applicant shall be given an opportunity for hearing within sixty days from the date of the application to show cause why the license should not be refused. If after the hearing the Secretary finds that the applicant is unfit to engage in the business of a commission merchant, dealer, or broker because the applicant, or in case the applicant is a partnership, any general partner, or in case the applicant is a corporation, any officer or holder of more than 10 per centum of the stock, prior to the date of the filing of the application engaged in any practice of the character prohibited by this chapter or was convicted of a felony in any State or Federal court, or because the application contains a materially false or misleading statement made by the applicant or by its representative on its behalf, or involves a misrepresentation, concealment, or withholding of facts respecting any violation of the chapter by any officer, agent, or employee, the Secretary may refuse to issue a license to the applicant.
The Secretary may refuse to issue a license to an applicant if he finds that the applicant, or in case the applicant is a partnership, any general partner, or in case the applicant is a corporation, any officer or holder of more than 10 per centum of the stock, has, within three years prior to the date of the application, been adjudicated or discharged as a bankrupt, or was a general partner of a partnership or officer or holder of more than 10 per centum of the stock of a corporation adjudicated or discharged as a bankrupt, and if he finds that the circumstances of such bankruptcy warrant such a refusal, unless the applicant furnishes a bond of such nature and amount as may be determined by the Secretary or other assurance satisfactory to the Secretary that the business of the applicant will be conducted in accordance with this chapter.
If any commission merchant, dealer, or broker violates any provision of section 499b of this title he shall be liable to the person or persons injured thereby for the full amount of damages (including any handling fee paid by the injured person or persons under section 499f(a)(2) of this title) sustained in consequence of such violation.
Such liability may be enforced either (1) by complaint to the Secretary as hereinafter provided, or (2) by suit in any court of competent jurisdiction; but this section shall not in any way abridge or alter the remedies now existing at common law or by statute, and the provisions of this chapter are in addition to such remedies.
Any person complaining of any violation of any provision of section 499b of this title by any commission merchant, dealer, or broker may, at any time within nine months after the cause of action accrues, apply to the Secretary by petition, which shall briefly state the facts, whereupon, if, in the opinion of the Secretary, the facts therein contained warrant such action, a copy of the complaint thus made shall be forwarded by the Secretary to the commission merchant, dealer, or broker, who shall be called upon to satisfy the complaint, or to answer it in writing, within a reasonable time to be prescribed by the Secretary.
A person submitting a petition to the Secretary under paragraph (1) shall include a filing fee of $60 per petition. If the Secretary determines under paragraph (1) that the facts contained in the petition warrant further action, the person or persons submitting the petition shall submit to the Secretary a handling fee of $300. The Secretary may not forward a copy of the complaint to the commission merchant, dealer, or broker involved until after the Secretary receives the required handling fee. The Secretary shall deposit fees submitted under this paragraph into the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Fund provided for by section 499c(b) of this title. The Secretary may alter the fees specified in this paragraph by rulemaking under section 553 of title 5.
Any officer or agency of any State or Territory having jurisdiction over commission merchants, dealers, or brokers in such State or Territory and any other interested person (other than an employee of an agency of the Department of Agriculture administering this chapter) may file, in accordance with rules prescribed by the Secretary, a written notification of any alleged violation of this chapter by any commission merchant, dealer, or broker. In addition, any official certificates of the United States Government or States or Territories of the United States and trust notices filed pursuant to section 499e of this title shall constitute written notification for the purposes of conducting an investigation under subsection (c). The identity of any person filing a written notification under this subsection shall be considered to be confidential information. The identity of such person, and any portion of the notification to the extent that it would indicate the identity of such person, are specifically exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5 (commonly known as the Freedom of Information Act), as provided in subsection (b)(3) of such section.
If there appears to be, in the opinion of the Secretary, reasonable grounds for investigating a complaint made under subsection (a) or a written notification made under subsection (b), the Secretary shall investigate such complaint or notification. In the course of the investigation, if the Secretary determines that violations of this chapter are indicated other than the alleged violations specified in the complaint or notification that served as the basis for the investigation, the Secretary may expand the investigation to include such additional violations.
In the opinion of the Secretary, if an investigation under this subsection substantiates the existence of violations of this chapter, the Secretary may cause a complaint to be issued. The Secretary shall have the complaint served by registered mail or certified mail or otherwise on the person concerned and afford such person an opportunity for a hearing thereon before a duly authorized examiner of the Secretary in any place in which the subject of the complaint is engaged in business. However, in complaints wherein the amount claimed as damages does not exceed $30,000, a hearing need not be held and proof in support of the complaint and in support of respondent’s answer may be supplied in the form of depositions or verified statements of fact.
Whenever the Secretary initiates an investigation on the basis of a written notification made under subsection (b) or expands such an investigation, the Secretary shall promptly notify the subject of the investigation of the existence of the investigation and the nature of the alleged violations of this chapter to be investigated. Not later than 180 days after providing the initial notification, the Secretary shall provide the subject of the investigation with notice of the status of the investigation, including whether the Secretary intends to issue a complaint under paragraph (2), terminate the investigation, or continue or expand the investigation. The Secretary shall provide additional status reports at the request of the subject of the investigation and shall promptly notify the subject of the investigation whenever the Secretary terminates the investigation.
After opportunity for hearing on complaints where the damages claimed exceed the sum of $30,000 has been provided or waived and on complaints where damages claimed do not exceed the sum of $30,000 not requiring hearing as provided herein, the Secretary shall determine whether or not the commission merchant, dealer, or broker has violated any provision of section 499b of this title.
In case a complaint is made by a nonresident of the United States, or by a resident of the United States to whom the claim of a nonresident of the United States has been assigned, the complainant shall be required, before any formal action is taken on his complaint, to furnish a bond in double the amount of the claim conditioned upon the payment of costs, including a reasonable attorney’s fee for the respondent if the respondent shall prevail, and any reparation award that may be issued by the Secretary of Agriculture against the complainant on any counter claim by respondent: Provided, That the Secretary shall have authority to waive the furnishing of a bond by a complainant who is a resident of a country which permits the filing of a complaint by a resident of the United States without the furnishing of a bond.
If after a hearing on a complaint made by any person under section 499f of this title, or without hearing as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of section 499f of this title, or upon failure of the party complained against to answer a complaint duly served within the time prescribed, or to appear at a hearing after being duly notified, the Secretary determines that the commission merchant, dealer, or broker has violated any provision of section 499b of this title, he shall, unless the offender has already made reparation to the person complaining, determine the amount of damage, if any, to which such person is entitled as a result of such violation and shall make an order directing the offender to pay to such person complaining such amount on or before the date fixed in the order. The Secretary shall order any commission merchant, dealer, or broker who is the losing party to pay the prevailing party, as reparation or additional reparation, reasonable fees and expenses incurred in connection with any such hearing. If, after the respondent has filed his answer to the complaint, it appears therein that the respondent has admitted liability for a portion of the amount claimed in the complaint as damages, the Secretary under such rules and regulations as he shall prescribe, unless the respondent has already made reparation to the person complaining, may issue an order directing the respondent to pay to the complainant the undisputed amount on or before the date fixed in the order, leaving the respondent’s liability for the disputed amount for subsequent determination. The remaining disputed amount shall be determined in the same manner and under the same procedure as it would have been determined if no order had been issued by the Secretary with respect to the undisputed sum.
If any commission merchant, dealer, or broker does not pay the reparation award within the time specified in the Secretary’s order, the complainant, or any person for whose benefit such order was made, may within three years of the date of the order file in the district court of the United States for the district in which he resides or in which is located the principal place of business of the commission merchant, dealer, or broker, or in any State court having general jurisdiction of the parties, a petition setting forth briefly the causes for which he claims damages and the order of the Secretary in the premises. The orders, writs, and processes of the district courts may in these cases run, be served, and be returnable anywhere in the United States. Such suit in the district court shall proceed in all respects like other civil suits for damages, except that the findings and orders of the Secretary shall be prima-facie evidence of the facts therein stated, and the petitioner shall not be liable for costs in the district court, nor for costs at any subsequent state of the proceedings, unless they accrue upon his appeal. If the petitioner finally prevails, he shall be allowed a reasonable attorney’s fee, to be taxed and collected as a part of the costs of the suit.
Either party adversely affected by the entry of a reparation order by the Secretary may, within thirty days from and after the date of such order, appeal therefrom to the district court of the United States for the district in which said hearing was held: Provided, That in cases handled without a hearing in accordance with subsections (c) and (d) of section 499f of this title or in which a hearing has been waived by agreement of the parties, appeal shall be to the district court of the United States for the district in which the party complained against is located. Such appeal shall be perfected by the filing with the clerk of said court a notice of appeal, together with a petition in duplicate which shall recite prior proceedings before the Secretary and shall state the grounds upon which the petitioner relies to defeat the right of the adverse party to recover the damages claimed, with proof of service thereof upon the adverse party. Such appeal shall not be effective unless within thirty days from and after the date of the reparation order the appellant also files with the clerk a bond in double the amount of the reparation awarded against the appellant conditioned upon the payment of the judgment entered by the court, plus interest and costs, including a reasonable attorney’s fee for the appellee, if the appellee shall prevail. Such bond shall be in the form of cash, negotiable securities having a market value at least equivalent to the amount of bond prescribed, or the undertaking of a surety company on the approved list of sureties issued by the Treasury Department of the United States. The clerk of court shall immediately forward a copy thereof to the Secretary of Agriculture, who shall forthwith prepare, certify, and file in said court a true copy of the Secretary’s decision, findings of fact, conclusions, and order in said case, together with copies of the pleadings upon which the case was heard and submitted to the Secretary. Such suit in the district court shall be a trial de novo and shall proceed in all respects like other civil suits for damages, except that the findings of fact and order or orders of the Secretary shall be prima-facie evidence of the facts therein stated. Appellee shall not be liable for costs in said court and if appellee prevails he shall be allowed a reasonable attorney’s fee to be taxed and collected as a part of his costs. Such petition and pleadings certified by the Secretary upon which decision was made by him shall upon filing in the district court constitute the pleadings upon which said trial de novo shall proceed subject to any amendment allowed in that court.
Unless the licensee against whom a reparation order has been issued shows to the satisfaction of the Secretary within five days from the expiration of the period allowed for compliance with such order that he has either taken an appeal as herein authorized or has made payment in full as required by such order his license shall be suspended automatically at the expiration of such five-day period until he shows to the satisfaction of the Secretary that he has paid the amount therein specified with interest thereon to date of payment: Provided, That if on appeal the appellee prevails or if the appeal is dismissed the automatic suspension of license shall become effective at the expiration of thirty days from the date of the judgment on the appeal, but if the judgment is stayed by a court of competent jurisdiction the suspension shall become effective ten days after the expiration of such stay, unless prior thereto the judgment of the court has been satisfied.
Whenever (1) the Secretary determines, as provided in section 499f of this title, that any commission merchant, dealer, or broker has violated any of the provisions of section 499b of this title, or (2) any commission merchant, dealer, or broker has been found guilty in a Federal court of having violated section 499n(b) of this title, the Secretary may publish the facts and circumstances of such violation and/or, by order, suspend the license of such offender for a period not to exceed ninety days, except that, if the violation is flagrant or repeated, the Secretary may, by order, revoke the license of the offender.
If, after a license shall have been issued to an applicant, the Secretary believes that the license was obtained through a false or misleading statement in the application therefor or through a misrepresentation, concealment, or withholding of facts respecting any violation of this chapter by any officer, agent, or employee, he may, after thirty days’ notice and an opportunity for a hearing, revoke said license, whereupon no license shall be issued to said applicant or any applicant in which the person responsible for such false or misleading statement or misrepresentation, concealment, or withholding of facts is financially interested, except under the conditions set forth in section 499d(b) of this title.
In addition to being subject to the penalties provided by section 499c(a) of this title, any commission merchant, dealer, or broker who engages in or operates such business without a valid and effective license from the Secretary shall be liable to be proceeded against in any court of competent jurisdiction in a suit by the United States for an injunction to restrain such defendant from further continuing so to engage in or operate such business, and, if the court shall find that the defendant is continuing to engage in such business without a valid and effective license, the court shall issue an injunction to restrain such defendant from continuing to engage in or to operate such business without such license.
In lieu of suspending or revoking a license under this section when the Secretary determines, as provided by section 499f of this title, that a commission merchant, dealer, or broker has violated section 499b of this title or subsection (b) of this section, the Secretary may assess a civil penalty not to exceed $2,000 for each violative transaction or each day the violation continues. In assessing the amount of a penalty under this subsection, the Secretary shall give due consideration to the size of the business, the number of employees, and the seriousness, nature, and amount of the violation. Amounts collected under this subsection shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts.
Every commission merchant, dealer, and broker shall keep such accounts, records, and memoranda as fully and correctly disclose all transactions involved in his business, including the true ownership of such business by stockholding or otherwise. If such accounts, records, and memoranda are not so kept, the Secretary may publish the facts and circumstances and/or, by order, suspend the license of the offender for a period not to exceed ninety days.
Any order of the Secretary under this chapter other than an order for the payment of money shall take effect within such reasonable time, not less than ten days, as is prescribed in the order, and shall continue in force until his further order, or for a specified period of time, accordingly as it is prescribed in the order, unless such order is suspended, modified, or set aside by the Secretary or is suspended, modified, or set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction. Any such order of the Secretary, if regularly made, shall be final, unless before the date prescribed for its taking effect application is made to a court of competent jurisdiction by the commission merchant, dealer, or broker against whom such order is directed to have such order set aside or its enforcement, operation, or execution suspended or restrained.
For the purposes of this chapter the provisions of all laws relating to the suspending or restraining of the enforcement, operation, or execution, or the setting-aside, in whole or in part, of the orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission are made applicable to orders of the Secretary under this chapter and to any person subject to the provisions of this chapter.
The Secretary may report any violation of this chapter for which a civil penalty is provided to the Attorney General of the United States, who shall cause appropriate proceedings to be commenced and prosecuted in the proper courts of the United States without delay. The costs and expenses of such proceedings shall be paid out of the appropriation for the expenses of the courts of the United States.
The Secretary or his duly authorized agents shall have the right to inspect such accounts, records, and memoranda of any commission merchant, dealer, or broker as may be material (1) in the investigation of complaints under this chapter, or (2) to the determination of ownership, control, packer, or State, country, or region of origin in connection with commodity inspections, or (3) to ascertain whether section 499i of this title is being complied with, and if any such commission merchant, dealer, or broker refuses to permit such inspection, the Secretary may publish the facts and circumstances and/or, by order, suspend the license of the offender until permission to make such inspection is given. The Secretary or his duly authorized agents shall have the right to inspect any lot of any perishable agricultural commodity covered by this chapter, and if any commission merchant, dealer, or broker having ownership of or control over such lot fails or refuses to authorize or allow such inspection, the Secretary may, after thirty days’ notice and an opportunity for a hearing, publish the facts and circumstances and/or, by order, suspend the license of the offender for a period not to exceed ninety days.
The Secretary or the Secretary’s duly authorized agents, in order to insure that the prompt payment provision of section 499b(4) of this title is being complied with, shall from time to time inspect the accounts, records, and memoranda of any commission merchant, dealer, or broker determined in a formal disciplinary proceeding under section 499f(b) of this title to have violated such provision. The Secretary may also require that any such commission merchant, dealer, or broker furnish, maintain, and from time to time adjust a surety bond in form and amount satisfactory to the Secretary as assurance that such commission merchant’s, dealer’s, or broker’s business will be conducted in accordance with this chapter and that such commission merchant, dealer, or broker will pay all reparation awards, subject to its right of appeal under section 499g(c) of this title: Provided, That if such surety bond is furnished, maintained, and adjusted as required by the Secretary, the Secretary shall not thereafter inspect the accounts, records, and memoranda of such commission merchant, dealer, or broker under this subsection more than once a year. If any such commission merchant, dealer, or broker refuses to permit such inspection or fails or refuses to furnish, maintain, or adjust such surety bond, the Secretary may publish the facts and circumstances and, by order, suspend the license of the offender until permission to make such inspection is given or such surety bond is furnished, maintained, or adjusted.
The Secretary, or any officer or employee designated by him for such purpose, may hold hearings, sign and issue subpoenas, administer oaths, examine witnesses, receive evidence, and require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of such accounts, records, and memoranda as may be material for the determination of any complaint under this chapter.
In case of disobedience to a subpoena, the Secretary or any of his examiners may invoke the aid of any court of the United States in requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of accounts, records, and memoranda. Any district court of the United States within the jurisdiction of which any hearing is carried on may, in case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person, issue an order requiring the person to appear before the Secretary or his examiner or to produce accounts, records, and memoranda if so ordered, or to give evidence touching any matter pertinent to any complaint; and any failure to obey such order of the court shall be punished by the court as a contempt thereof.
The Secretary may order testimony to be taken by deposition in any proceeding or investigation or incident to any complaint pending under this chapter at any stage thereof. Such depositions may be taken before any person designated by the Secretary and having power to administer oaths. Such testimony shall be reduced to writing by the person taking the deposition or under his direction and shall then be subscribed by the deponent. Any person may be compelled to appear and depose and to produce accounts, records, and memoranda in the same manner as witnesses may be compelled to appear and testify and produce accounts, records, and memoranda before the Secretary or any of his examiners.
Witnesses summoned before the Secretary or any officer or employee designated by him shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the courts of the United States, and witnesses whose depositions are taken and the persons taking the same shall severally be entitled to the same fees as are paid for like service in the courts of the United States.
The Secretary is authorized, independently and in cooperation with other branches of the Government, State, or municipal agencies and/or any person, whether operating in one or more jurisdictions, to employ and/or license inspectors to inspect and certify, without regard to the filing of a complaint under this chapter, to any interested person the class, quality, and/or condition of any lot of any perishable agricultural commodity when offered for interstate or foreign shipment or when received at places where the Secretary shall find it practicable to provide such service, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, including the payment of such fees and expenses as will be reasonable and as nearly as may be to cover the cost for the service rendered: Provided, That fees for inspections made by a licensed inspector, less the percentage thereof which he is allowed by the terms of his contract of employment with the Secretary as compensation for his services, shall be deposited into the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts; and fees for inspections made by an inspector acting under a cooperative agreement with a State, municipality, or other person shall be disposed of in accordance with the terms of such agreement: Provided further, That expenses for travel and subsistence incurred by inspectors shall be paid by the applicant for inspection to the United States Department of Agriculture to be credited to the appropriation for carrying out the purposes of this chapter: And provided further, That official inspection certificates for fresh fruits and vegetables issued by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to any law shall be received by all officers and all courts of the United States, in all proceedings under this chapter, and in all transactions upon contract markets under Commodities Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 1 et seq.), as prima-facie evidence of the truth of the statements therein contained.
Whoever shall falsely make, issue, alter, forge, or counterfeit, or cause or procure to be falsely made, issued, altered, forged, or counterfeited, or willingly aid, cause, procure or assist in, or be a party to the false making, issuing, altering, forging, or counterfeiting of any certificate of inspection issued under authority of this chapter, sections 491, 493 to 497 of this title, or any Act making appropriations for the Department of Agriculture; or shall utter or publish as true or cause to be uttered or published as true any such false, forged, altered, or counterfeited certificate, for a fraudulent purpose, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment for a period of not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court.
The Secretary may make such rules, regulations, and orders as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter, and may cooperate with any department or agency of the Government, any State, Territory, District, or possession, or department, agency, or political subdivision thereof, or any person; and shall have the power to appoint, remove, and fix the compensation of such officers and employees not in conflict with existing law, and make such expenditures for rent outside the District of Columbia, printing, binding, telegrams, telephones, lawbooks, books of reference, publications, furniture, stationery, office equipment, travel, and other supplies and expenses, including reporting services, as shall be necessary to the administration of this chapter in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, from the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act fund provided for by section 499c(b) of this title and any supplements to such fund, and as may be appropriated for by Congress; and there is authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary for such purposes. This chapter shall not abrogate nor nullify any other statute, whether State or Federal, dealing with the same subjects of this chapter; but it is intended that all such statutes shall remain in full force and effect except insofar only as they are inconsistent herewith or repugnant hereto.
In construing and enforcing the provisions of this chapter, the act, omission, or failure of any agent, officer, or other person acting for or employed by any commission merchant, dealer, or broker, within the scope of his employment or office, shall in every case be deemed the act, omission, or failure of such commission merchant, dealer, or broker as that of such agent, officer, or other person.
If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of the chapter and of the application of such provision to other persons and circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Any unexpended balances of appropriations for the current fiscal year, and any subsequent appropriations, made to carry out the Acts referred to in section 499c(b) of this title, may be deposited in the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act fund.