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Agricultural Transactions - Jurisdictional Limit of sec. 422.210 Disclosure Requirement

Written August 17, 1998

Under the authority contained in sec. 426.104(4), Stats., the Department finds that the new sec. 422.210, Stats., applies only to agricultural transactions of $25,000 or less. This interpretation is based upon the following findings:

  1. It is universally accepted that the Wisconsin Consumer Act ("Act") is limited to consumer transactions of $25,000 or less. This is based on the exclusion set forth at sec. 421.201(6), of consumer credit transactions that exceed $25,000. This $25,000 limit applies to all provisions of the Act notwithstanding any technical oversights in drafting various provisions of the Act. When the legislature drafted sec. 422.210, it was not their intention to dramatically expand the scope of that provision of the Act to apply to all agricultural credit transactions regardless of amount.
  2. This interpretation is supported by the revised definition of "customer," which, for purposes of chapter 427 only, includes a person who acquires credit for agricultural purposes. This revision to chapter 427 occurred at the same time as the creation of sec. 422.210. Because of this amendment to the definition of "customer," taken together with the exclusion set forth at sec. 421.201(6), chapter 427 is limited to agricultural transactions of $25,000 or less. It would be an anomaly to limit the scope of chapter 427 to agricultural transactions of $25,000 or less and to expand the scope of new sec. 422.210, to agricultural transactions of any amount.
  3. Although a "consumer transaction" for purposes of the $25,000 limit means a transaction in which one of the parties is a "customer" and the term "customer" does not include agricultural consumers except for chapter 427, the intent of the legislature is clear when it references "consumer transactions" in sec. 427.102, Stats., to include "transactions that are primarily for an agricultural purpose." This inclusion of agricultural transactions within the term "consumer transactions" for purposes of chapter 427 appears to confirm the legislative intent that the definition of "consumer transaction" for purposes of the $25,000 limit should include agricultural purpose transactions.
  4. Sec. 422.210 uses the term "customer" to refer to the person who incurs the agricultural credit obligation. "Customer" is the term used in the definition of "consumer credit transaction" and "consumer transaction" for purposes of the $25,000 limit. It is clear that the legislature intended that the term "customer" be applicable to new sec. 422.210. Therefore, the term "customer", as used in the definitions of "consumer credit transaction" and "consumer transaction" should include customers in agricultural credit transactions for the purposes of the $25,000 limit.
  5. Sec. 422.210 was intended to retain certain disclosure requirements for agricultural credit transactions, which would be otherwise exempt from the Act. It was not the intent of the legislature in enacting this section to incorporate an entirely new class of agricultural credit transactions not previously covered by the Act.

For the reasons above, the Department interprets the scope of sec. 422.210, Stats., as limited to agricultural transactions of $25,000 or less.