(a) The assessment shall not be collected unless at least two-thirds of the votes cast in the referendum are in favor of the assessment. If at least two-thirds of the votes cast in the referendum are in favor of the assessment, then the Department shall notify all strawberry plant sellers of the assessment. The assessment shall be added by the strawberry plant sellers to the price of all strawberry plants sold for commercial planting in North Carolina. The Department shall provide forms to the strawberry plant sellers for reporting the assessment. All strawberry plant sellers shall provide each purchaser of strawberry plants for commercial production with an invoice that sets forth the amount of the assessment on the purchase covered by the invoice. Persons who purchase strawberry plants for commercial production on which the assessment has not been collected by the seller shall report such purchases and pay the assessment to the Department.
(b) Each strawberry plant seller shall remit to the Department no later than the tenth day following the end of each calendar quarter the assessment on strawberry plants sold during that quarter. Any strawberry plant seller who fails to remit the assessment for the previous year's sales by January 10 shall pay a penalty of five percent (5%) of the unpaid assessment plus a penalty of one percent (1%) of the unpaid assessment for each month after January 10 that the assessment remains unpaid.
(c) The Association may conduct inspections or audits of the books of any strawberry plant seller. If the inspection or audit reveals that a strawberry plant seller has willfully failed to remit assessments when due, the seller shall pay the Association the reasonable costs of the inspection or audit.
(d) The Association may bring an action to collect unpaid assessments, penalties, and reasonable costs of any inspection or audit as provided in subsection (c) of this section, against any strawberry plant seller who fails to pay the assessment, penalties, or costs. If successful, the Association shall also recover the cost of such action, including attorneys' fees. (1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1027, s. 1; 1997-371, s. 3.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014