AN ACT RELATING TO LIABILITY RESULTING FROM THE USE OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SEEDS AND PLANT PARTS
The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS; PURPOSE
(a) Vermont’s farmers and agriculture are vitally important to sustaining the economy and maintaining the traditional values of our state. Building on our long history of cooperation among farmers and protecting the viability of all types of farming are critical to keeping agriculture a healthy part of life in Vermont.
(b) In balancing the interests of all farmers, it is important to ensure that they retain the greatest possible flexibility as they make decisions as to how best to run their farms. They also need as much protection as possible against having liability unfairly shifted to them for the actions of others.
(c) Vermont law has recognized the economic and cultural importance of agriculture. Vermont has defined farmers as consumers under our Uniform Commercial Code and Consumer Fraud Act, and federal case law has allowed farmers to be compensated for economic loss caused by the wrongful action of others. Vermont courts also furnish fair forums for resolving agricultural disputes which may arise in this state. These protections would be jeopardized if anyone selling products to Vermont farmers is able to compel disputes with those farmers to be heard in other states, under another state’s laws, and before non-Vermont juries.
Sec. 2. INTENT
It is the intent of the general assembly to:
(1) codify farmers’ ability to recover economic losses caused by the wrongful action of others;
(2) confirm farmers’ status as consumers with all the protections that provides;
(3) provide Vermont farmers with a Vermont forum and choice of law when legal disputes arise.
Sec. 3. 6 V.S.A. chapter 210 is added to read:
Chapter 210. Farmers and Agricultural Goods
§ 4715. DAMAGES IN ACTIONS
In any action in which liability for damages against a manufacturer of goods for agricultural use has been established in this state, the damages recoverable by a prevailing party may include economic losses.
§ 4716. FARMERS ARE CONSUMERS
(a) Vermont farmers are consumers for the purpose of actions in product liability.
(b) Goods purchased by farmers for agricultural use are consumer goods.
§ 4717. CHOICE OF LAW
If a contract for agricultural goods which are used in Vermont purports to choose the laws of a jurisdiction other than Vermont to govern the contract, such provisions of the contract are void and unenforceable. Any disputes involving such contracts shall be decided using the law of Vermont.
§ 4718. FORUM AND VENUE
(a) The forum for an action relating to goods for agricultural use in Vermont shall be the courts of the state of Vermont.
(b) The venue for an action relating to goods for agricultural use in Vermont shall be the Vermont county in which one of the parties resides. If neither party resides in the state, the venue may be any county in Vermont.
§ 4719. PROVISIONS MAY NOT BE VARIED
The provisions of this chapter may not be varied or waived by agreement of the parties.
Sec. 4. SEVERABILITY
If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid or in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States or the state of Vermont, the invalidity or the violation shall not affect other provisions of this act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this act are severable.
and that after passage, the title of the bill be changed to read as follows: “AN ACT RELATING TO FARMERS AND AGRICULTURAL GOODS LIABILITY ACTIONS”
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street