DATCP Docket No. 16-R-03
WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
TRADE AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
The Wisconsin department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection hereby adopts the following emergency rule to amend Wis. Admin. Code § ATCP 99.126 (5) (c) and § 99.235 (4) (c) relating to grain dealer and grain warehouse keeper agricultural producer security fund assessments.
Analysis Prepared by the Department
of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
This emergency rule amends one of three fund assessment exemption requirements for grain dealer and grain warehouse keepers, reducing the overall fund minimum balance requirement from $11 million to $5 million.
The Wisconsin department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (“Department”) adopts this temporary emergency rule. At this time, the Department is in the process of evaluating the Agricultural Producer Security Program and has not yet determined what changes will be made to the permanent rule, if any. This emergency rule will take effect September 1, 2016, and will remain in effect for 150 days. The legislature’s joint committee for review of administrative rules may extend the emergency rule for up to 120 additional days.
Statutory Authority: Wis. Stat. §§ 93.07(1), 126.81(1)(a), 126.88(1), and 227.24.
Explanation of Statutory Authority
The Department has broad general authority under Wis. Stat. § 93.07(1), to interpret laws under its jurisdiction. The Department has specific authority under Wis. Stat. § 126.81(1)(a) to interpret and implement Wis. Stat. ch. 126. The Department also has specific authority under Wis. Stat. § 126.88(1) and (2) to modify agricultural producer security assessments prescribed under Wis. Stat. ch. 126. The Department adopts this temporary emergency rule under authority of Wis. Stat. § 227.24.
Related Statutes and Rules
The Agricultural Producer Security Program is governed under Wis. Stat. ch. 126. More specifically, assessments into the producer security fund are calculated pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 126.15 (1) for grain dealers and Wis. Stat. § 126.30 (1) for grain warehouse keepers. Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 99 interprets and implements Wis. Stat. ch. 126, as it relates to grain dealers and grain warehouse keepers. The Department has explicit authority to implement administrative rules modifying the grain dealer assessments prescribed in the statutes.
Plain Language Analysis
The Agricultural Producer Security Fund (“APSF”) is a public trust administered by the Department. Milk contractors, grain dealers, grain warehouse keepers, and vegetable contractors (collectively, contractors) must obtain a Department license to procure milk, grain, or vegetables, respectively, from producers, and are required to contribute to the APSF annually. Funds are used to settle claims by producers in the event that a contractor defaults on payment or fails to return grain held in storage. Funds from each industry are accounted for separately and deposited into the overall fund. Wis. Stat. ch. 126 establishes detailed fund assessment requirements, except that it requires the Department to establish milk contractor fund assessments by rule. Wis. Stat. ch. 126 sets minimum fund balances for each industry as well as a minimum balance requirement for the overall fund. Wis. Admin. Code § ATCP 99.126 (5) establishes a fund assessment exemption for grain dealers. Wis. Admin. Code § ATCP 99.235 (4) establishes a fund assessment exemption for grain warehouse keepers. To be eligible, a licensee must have been a contributing grain dealer or grain warehouse keeper in each of the preceding five license years. The exemption does not apply if the fund balance attributable to grain dealers or grain warehouse keepers was less than $3 million on May 31 of the preceding license year. The exemption also does not apply if the overall fund balance (which includes contributions from milk, grain and vegetable contractors) was less than $11 million on May 31 of the preceding license year. Wis. Stat. § 126.88 sets the overall fund minimum balance at $5 million.
In 2014 and 2015, defaults in the vegetable and milk industries totaled $7.2 million, causing the APSF balance to drop substantially. With the overall fund balance well below the $11 million minimum currently set in administrative code, the grain industry will not be eligible for fund assessment exemptions for an estimated five to six years.
The Department and the Agriculture Producer Security Council (“APS Council”) identified the need to evaluate the entire agricultural producer security program, so that changes can be made to mitigate the impact of large defaults in the future. In December 2015, the Department received an actuarial study of the APSF and began working with the APS Council to develop recommendations for permanent changes to the agricultural producer security program.
The proposed emergency rule would alleviate a financial burden otherwise placed upon licensed grain dealers and grain warehouse keepers. Without this change, the grain industry would not be eligible for fund assessment exemption for many years, and would ultimately repay a large portion of the fund balance lost in the default to vegetable producers. Similar emergency rules have been enacted to extend the assessment exemptions for other contractor industries.
Under this rule, the annual fund assessment exemption requirement regarding the overall fund balance minimum would decrease from $11 million to $5 million.
The proposed rule will slow the growth of the overall fund balance, as the grain industry would otherwise be required to pay an additional $200,000-$250,000 annually, over the course of an estimated five to six years.
This will result in fewer funds available to producers in milk, grain, and vegetable industries in the event of future large defaults.