7 CFR 46.46 - Statutory trust.
(1) “Received” means the time when the buyer, receiver, or agent gains ownership, control, or possession of the perishable agricultural commodities: Provided, That when perishable agricultural commodities have not been received as described above, and where there is a rejection without reasonable cause as provided in § 46.2(bb) and (cc), the goods will be considered to have been received when proffered.
(2) “Dissipation” means any act or failure to act which could result in the diversion of trust assets or which could prejudice or impair the ability of unpaid suppliers, sellers, or agents to recover money owed in connection with produce transactions.
(3) “Default” means the failure to pay promptly money owed in connection with transactions in perishable agricultural commodities; i.e., within the period of time applicable to the type of transaction as established by the provisions of the regulations (§ 46.2(aa)), or as otherwise agreed upon by the parties.
(4) “Calendar days” as used in section 5(c) 3 of the Act means every day of the week, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, except that if the thirtieth calendar day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the final day with respect to the time for filing a written notice of intent to preserve the benefit of the trust shall be the next day upon which there is postal delivery service.
(5) “Ordinary and usual billing or invoice statements” as used in section 5(c)(4) of the Act, and “invoice or other billing statement” as used in § 46.46(f)(3), mean communications customarily used between parties to a transaction in perishable agricultural commodities in whatever form, documentary or electronic, for billing or invoicing purposes.
(b) Trust assets. The trust is made up of perishable agricultural commodities received in all transactions, all inventories of food or other products derived from such perishable agricultural commodities, and all receivables or proceeds from the sale of such commodities and food or products derived therefrom. Trust assets are to be preserved as a nonsegregated “floating” trust. Commingling of trust assets is contemplated.
(c) Trust benefits.
(1) When a seller, supplier or agent who has met the eligibility requirements of paragraphs (e) (1) and (2) of this section, transfers ownership, possession, or control of goods to a commission merchant, dealer, or broker, it automatically becomes eligible to participate in the trust. Participants who preserve their rights to benefits in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section remain beneficiaries until they are paid in full.
(2) Any licensee, or person subject to license, who has a fiduciary duty to collect funds resulting from the sale or consignment of produce, and remit such funds to its principal, also has the duty to preserve its principal's rights to trust benefits in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section. The responsibility for filing the notice to preserve the principal's rights is obligatory and cannot be avoided by the agent by means of a contract provision. Persons acting as agents also have the responsibility to negotiate contracts which entitle their principals to the protection of the trust provisions: Provided, That a principal may elect to waive its right to trust protection. To be effective, the waiver must be in writing and separate and distinct from any agency contract, must be signed by the principal prior to the time affected transactions occur, must clearly state the principal's intent to waive its right to become a trust beneficiary on a given transaction, or a series of transactions, and must include the date the agent's authority to act on the principal's behalf expires. In the event an agent having a fiduciary duty to collect funds resulting from the sale or consignment of produce and remit such funds to its principal fails to perform the duty of preserving its principal's rights to trust benefits, it may be held liable to the principal for damages. A principal employing a collect and remit agent must preserve its rights to trust benefits against such agent by filing appropriate notices with the agent.
(d) Trust maintenance.
(1) Commission merchants, dealers and brokers are required to maintain trust assets in a manner that such assets are freely available to satisfy outstanding obligations to sellers of perishable agricultural commodities. Any act or omission which is inconsistent with this responsibility, including dissipation of trust assets, is unlawful and in violation of section 2 of the Act, (7 U.S.C. 499b).
(2) Agents who sell perishable agricultural commodities on behalf of a principal are required to preserve the principal's rights as a trust beneficiary as set forth in § 46.2(z), (aa) and paragraphs (d), (f), and (g) of this section. Any act or omission which is inconsistent with this responsibility, including failure to give timely notice of intent to preserve trust benefits, is unlawful and in violation of section 2 of the Act, (7 U.S.C. 499b).
(e) Prompt payment and eligibility for trust benefits.
(1) The times for prompt accounting and prompt payment are set out in § 46.2(z) and (aa). Parties who elect to use different times for payment must reduce their agreement to writing before entering into the transaction and maintain a copy of their agreement in their records, and the times of payment must be disclosed on invoices, accountings, and other documents relating to the transaction.
(2) The maximum time for payment for a shipment to which a seller, supplier, or agent can agree, prior to the transaction, and still be eligible for benefits under the trust is 30 days after receipt and acceptance of the commodities as defined in § 46.2(dd) and paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
(3) If there is a default in payment as defined in § 46.46(a)(3), the seller, supplier, or agent who has met the eligibility requirements of paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section will not forfeit eligibility under the trust by agreeing in any manner to a schedule for payment of the past due amount or by accepting a partial payment.
(4) The trust provisions do not apply to transactions between a cooperative association (as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)), and its members.
(5) The amount claimable against the trust by a beneficiary or grower will be the net amount due after allowable deductions of contemplated expenses or advances made in connection with the transaction by the commission merchant, dealer, or broker.
(f) Filing notice of intent to preserve trust benefits.
(1) Notice of intent to preserve benefits under the trust must be in writing, must include the statement that it is a notice of intent to preserve trust benefits and must include information which establishes for each shipment:
(i) The names and addresses of the trust beneficiary, seller-supplier, commission merchant, or agent and the debtor, as applicable,
(ii) The date of the transaction, commodity, invoice price, and terms of payment (if appropriate),
(iii) The date of receipt of notice that a payment instrument has been dishonored (if appropriate), and
(iv) The amount past due and unpaid.
(2) Timely filing of a notice of intent to preserve benefits under the trust will be considered to have been made if written notice is given to the debtor within 30 calendar days:
(i) After expiration of the time prescribed by which payment must be made pursuant to regulation,
(ii) After expiration of such other time by which payment must be made as the parties have expressly agreed to in writing before entering into the transaction, but not longer than the time prescribed in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, or
(iii) After the time the supplier, seller or agent has received notice that a payment instrument promptly presented for payment has been dishonored. Failures to pay within the time periods set forth in paragraphs (f)(2)(i) and (ii) of this section constitute defaults.
(3) Licensees may choose an alternate method of preserving trust benefits from the requirements described in paragraphs (f)(1) and (2) of this section. Licensees may use their invoice or other billing statement as defined in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, whether in documentary or electronic form, to preserve trust benefits. Alternately, the licensee's invoice or other billing statement, given to the buyer, must contain:
(i) The statement: “The perishable agricultural commodities listed on this invoice are sold subject to the statutory trust authorized by section 5(c) of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, 1930 (7 U.S.C. 499e(c)). The seller of these commodities retains a trust claim over these commodities, all inventories of food or other products derived from these commodities, and any receivables or proceeds from the sale of these commodities until full payment is received.”; and
(ii) The terms of payment if they differ from prompt payment set out in section 46.2(z) and (aa) of this part, and the parties have expressly agreed to such terms in writing before the affected transactions occur.
(4) If the invoice or other billing statement is in electronic form, the licensee has met its requirement of giving the buyer notice of intent to preserve trust benefits on the face of the invoice or other billing statement if the electronic invoice or other billing statement containing the statement set forth in paragraph (f)(3)(i) is sent to the buyer and the electronic transmission can be verified. The licensee will be deemed to have given notice to the buyer of its intent to preserve trust benefits if the licensee can verify that the electronic invoice or other billing statement was sent to a third party electronic transaction vendor designated by the buyer. The licensee will have met the requirement of giving the buyer written notice of intent to preserve trust benefits using electronic means if it can verify that the electronic data invoice or other billing statement was transmitted to the buyer, or its designated electronic transaction vendor, irrespective of whether or not the buyer or third party vendor downloads or accepts the trust statement.
(5) If a buyer conducts its transactions in perishable agricultural commodities using an electronic system, the buyer or its third party electronic vendor must allow sufficient space for the seller to include the required trust statement of intent to preserve trust benefits in the buyer's electronic invoices or other billing statement forms. A buyer or its designated third party electronic vendor must accept a seller's notice of intent to preserve benefits under the trust using the required trust statement, whether in documentary or electronic form, as set forth in paragraphs (d) and (f) of this section. Any act or omission which is inconsistent with this responsibility is unlawful and in violation of Section 2 of the Act (7 U.S.C. 499b).