AGO Opinion 97028
Dry Bean Resources Act - First Purchasers
DATE: May 13, 1997
SUBJECT: Dry Bean Resources Act - First Purchasers
REQUESTED BY: Nebraska Dry Bean Commission
WRITTEN BY: Don Stenberg, Attorney General
Steve Grasz, Deputy Attorney General
You have requested an Attorney General's Opinion regarding the
definition of "First Purchaser" for purposes of collecting the fee
authorized by the Nebraska Dry Bean Resources Act (the Act).
Specifically, you have requested clarification as to the scope of
the definition of First Purchaser, and whether the Commission's
understanding is correct that "every bean grown in the State of
Nebraska is subject to the tax, whether it is seed or commercial."
The Dry Bean Resources Act defines first purchaser as follows:
First purchaser shall mean any person, public or
private corporation, association, partnership, or limited
liability company buying, accepting for shipment, or
otherwise acquiring dry beans from a grower and shall
include, but not be limited to, a mortgagee, pledgee,
lienor, or other person having a claim against the grower
when the actual or constructive possession of such dry
beans is taken as part payment or in satisfaction or the
mortgage, pledge, lien, or claim.
Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 2-3741 (Michie 1995) (emphasis added).
Thus, a first purchaser includes any person or legal entity buying,
accepting for shipment, or otherwise acquiring dry beans from a
grower. Id. Other relevant portions of the Act must also be
consulted, however, in determining which beans are subject to the
The Nebraska Supreme Court has long held that "statutes
relating to the same subject matter are in pari materia, and a
court will construe them together so as to determine the intent of
the Legislature and to maintain a consistent and sensible scheme."
State ex rel. Scherer v. Madison Cty. Comrs., 247 Neb. 384, 387,
527 N.W.2d 615 (1995).
Another portion of the Act provides that "there shall be paid
to the Commission a fee . . . upon all dry beans grown in the State
. . . and sold through commercial channels." Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann.
§ 2-3755 (emphasis added). This fee is to be paid "whether such
dry beans are stored or marketed in this state or any other state."
Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 2-3757.
When all parts of the Act are read together, we conclude that
the fee is intended to be applied broadly and is applicable even
where a grower markets his or her own dry beans, either
individually or through a grower/processor organization. In
Informal Opinion I91-058 (June 27, 1991), we previously advised the
Commission that "the Commission is authorized by statute to collect
the fee on all dry beans grown in Nebraska and sold through
commercial channels. . . ." In this opinion, we also advised the
Commission that the fee could be collected retroactively upon
discovery of unreported sales. A copy of this informal opinion is
We note that our conclusion regarding the broad definition of
first purchaser is consistent with testimony contained in the
legislative history of the Act. In discussing the need for the
Act, one witness stated, "It is necessary that each individual and
each business that benefits from these activities share in their
expense." Committee Records on LB 145, 90th Legislature, 1st
Session 3 (Feb. 10, 1987) (Testimony of Mr. Fred Ehrman).
Deputy Attorney General