The NOP often enters into settlement agreements with operations, certified and uncertified, and accredited certifiers concerning noncompliance with the USDA organic regulations. Typically, these settlements are executed as alternatives to administrative proceedings that may result in suspension or revocation of certification or accreditation, as well as civil penalties for the knowing sale of products in violation of the USDA organic regulations. Settlement always requires operations to comply with USDA organic regulations and, sometimes, includes specific compliance requirements and/or reduced civil penalties.
11/5/2019: Heartland Gourmet, LLC – Lincoln, Nebraska
Heartland agreed to: (1) not produce, label, market, represent, sell or ship any product as organic unless it has been approved for certification and is included in its Organic System Plan; (2) before marketing, producing, labeling, selling or otherwise representing a product as organic, submit all required documentation to its certifier, apply for the product’s organic certification, and within 30 days, document and make this procedure available to its certifier; (3) pay a civil penalty of $1,500; and (4) undergo an announced inspection within a year.
10/25/2019: Richard and Penny Priebe – Kenyon, Minnesota
The Priebes agreed to: (1) submit an annual renewal application, required materials and fees to their certifier; (2) remain in compliance with their certifier until surrendering certification, even if planning to switch certifiers; and (3) respond to all certifier requests on time.
9/25/2019: Bill Lieser Farm – Paynesville, Minnesota
Mr. Lieser agreed to maintain and make available for inspection: (1) written records of all operation activities and transactions; (2) all records needed for its certifier to conduct traceback and mass balance audits; (3) records on the animals’ feed demand and actual amounts fed; (4) sufficient pasture to ensure animals receive at least 30% of dry matter intake (DMI) from pasture during the grazing season and adequate records to show the number of days grazed and document animals’ access to pasture; (5) clean, dry bedding for animals; (6) complete records on the type and amount of all crops harvested; and (7) documentation on any deviations from its organic system plan in its annual update. Mr. Lieser also agreed to: (8) respond to certifier requests on time; and (9) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.
9/10/2019: Daniel Lapp – Economy, Indiana
Mr. Lapp agreed to: (1) ensure that all groups of animals receive at least 30% of dry matter intake (DMI) from pasture and maintain adequate DMI, feed, feed ration and feed sourcing records; (2) ensure all animals have year-round access to the outdoors and pasture; (3) maintain clean, dry bedding for animals in barns and submit bedding purchase receipts to its certifier; (4) get certifier approval for all inputs prior to their use; (5) maintain adequate seed and seed search documentation; (6) respond to certifier requests on time; (7) maintain cleaning records for rented and owned equipment; and (8) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.
8/30/2019: Family Tree Foods Co., Ltd. – Rayong, Thailand
Family Tree Foods Co., Ltd. agreed to: (1) label all incoming raw ingredients, storing organic ingredients separately from conventional ones; (2) get approval before using all product labels; (3) maintain updated records for all ingredients; (4) maintain appropriate records on reworked ingredients to enable traceback; (5) label finished organic products and separate them from conventional products; (6) maintain all documentation for certifier to conduct traceability and mass balance audits; (7) respond to all certifier requests on time; and (7) undergo an unannounced inspection within 3 months.
8/29/2019: Nimeks Organic Tarim Urunleri Ltd. – Izmir, Turkey
For its Malatya facility, Nimeks agreed to: (1) provide its certifier with copies of the noncompliance and proposed adverse actions when seeking organic certification; (2) notify NOP of its certification application and the name and address of the certifier to which it was submitted; and (3) take the corrective actions needed to resolve noncompliances cited, and allow the certifier to conduct an inspection to verify actions taken.
8/15/2019: Texas Department of Agriculture – Austin, Texas
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) agreed to: (1) resolve outstanding noncompliances generated during NOP’s August 2018 livestock-focused site visit; (2) have livestock inspectors and reviewers complete an additional 8 hours livestock training by the end of 2019 in addition to training already done; (3) conduct at least one unannounced inspection of each of its livestock operations by the end of April 2020; (4) confirm inspectors have the knowledge and experience needed to inspect assigned operations; (5) conduct a program review of its livestock scope, and provide NOP the report and corrective actions; (6) not accept new livestock clients until NOP approves; and (7) undergo an NOP compliance review by the end of April. This agreement is in response to noncompliances identified with TDA’s organic livestock program.
7/31/2019: Dwayne Peterson/Steep Hollow Dairy – Perkinston, Mississippi
Mr. Peterson agreed to: (1) respond to all certifier requests on time; (2) retain and submit all seed receipts and production input labels to its certifier; (3) not use production inputs prior to certifier approval; (4) maintain accurate disposition, feeding, and treatment records for all production animals/livestock; (5) ensure all livestock have ear tags; (6) ensure no prohibited substances are used on livestock; and (7) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.
7/31/2019: SAC Farms – Nyssa, Oregon
SAC agreed to: (1) maintain contact with its certifier; (2) inform the certifier if SAC will not be reachable by mail, email, or phone; (3) respond to all certifier communications on time; (4) submit its annual certification renewal application and fees on time; (5) maintain all required records; (6) inform its certifier of planned changes to its Organic System Plan before implementing the changes; (7) not burn crop residue in its fields; and (8) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.
7/18/2019: Patrick Gregor/Moon Flower Farm – Waseca, Minnesota
Mr. Gregor agreed to: (1) respond to all certifier requests on time; (2) update and comply with its approved Pasture Management Plan; (3) ensure all groups of animals receive at least 30% of dry matter intake (DMI) from pasture during grazing season and that animals graze on pasture throughout the grazing season; (4) maintain records confirming 30% DMI is met; and (5) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.
7/15/2019: Laura’s Original Boston Brownies, Inc./dba Bhu Fit and Bhu Foods – San Diego, California
Laura’s agreed to: (1) pay a civil penalty of $70,000; (2) undergo an inspection as part of its reinstatement application; (3) respond to all certifier information and documentation requests on time; and if reinstated, (4) market, sell or represent products as organic only when its organic certification is active and valid. This agreement is in response to Laura’s marketing, representation, and sale of products as organic while suspended.
7/10/2019: Milk Specialties Global – Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Milk Specialties Global agreed to: (1) not use any prohibited substances to produce organic dairy products; (2) have its certifier approve planned inputs and processing aids before use; and (3) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year. This agreement is in response to Milk Specialty Global’s use of one unallowed substance as a processing aid.
7/09/2019: Enzymology Research Center (ERC) – Miltona, Minnesota
ERC agreed to: (1) produce, label, represent, sell or ship products as organic only after the products have been approved for organic certification; (2) submit all required documentation for a product’s organic certification before it is produced, marketed, sold or shipped as organic; (3) within 30 days, submit procedures documenting how ERC will ensure a timely submission process; (4) pay a civil penalty of $5,500; and (3) undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.
7/03/2019: Chokechamroen Tea Co., Ltd. – Chiangrai, Thailand
Chokechamroen agreed to: (1) pay a reduced civil penalty of $3,000; and if reinstated, (2) submit its annual update, including all required documentation and fees, on time; (3) respond to certifier inquiries and requests on time; and (4) market, sell or represent products as organic only when its organic certification is active and valid. This agreement is in response to Chokechamroen’s marketing, representation, and sale of products as organic while suspended.
5/20/2019: Ecocert ICO – Plainfield, Indiana
Ecocert ICO agreed to: (1) not accept new applicants for organic certification for one year; (2) undergo a compliance audit; (3) report all organic/inspection training conducted for certifier staff and inspectors over the next two years; (4) submit a plan for monitoring training effectiveness and submit monitoring results and any adjustments to certification and inspection processes; and (5) within 30 days of the agreement, submit a plan for responding to NOP requests on time.
5/20/2019: Guindon Farms – Cornell, Michigan
Guindon Farms agreed to: (1) submit detailed information documenting the breakdown of responsibilities for all farming operations between Guindon and LaChapelle Farms; (2) stop identifying as organic any animals found not to be organically bred and managed; (3) stop purchasing feeder calves for organic production from LaChapelle; (4) respond to certifier inquiries on time; and (5) undergo two unannounced inspections with the next year. This agreement is in response to Guindon’s sale and marketing of livestock from an uncertified operation as organic.
4/23/2019: Wicmar Dairy – Cologne, Minnesota
Wicmar agreed to: (1) submit annual certification renewal applications and fees on time; (2) maintain and make available all organic sales records, crop yield records, pasture management records, rotational grazing and ration records for all livestock, and records for the sale of organically managed cull cows and organic crops; (3) ensure all groups of animals receive a minimum of 30% dry matter intake (DMI) from available pasture during grazing season, and make DMI records available; (4) not apply micronutrients to its crops unless there is a substantiated need; (5) maintain an up-to-date Organic System Plan (OSP), Materials Input List, livestock list, and provide other required documentation by the deadline; and (6) undergo two unannounced inspections in the next year. This agreement is in response to Wicmar’s failure to submit its annual certification renewal documentation and appropriate fees in a timely manner, for insufficient recordkeeping, and for failing to make records available.
4/1/2019: Flavorcraft Industries – Louisville, Kentucky
Flavorcraft agreed to: (1) pay a reduced civil penalty of $1,500; (2) stop producing or labeling any product, or flavor of product, as certified before certifier approval; and (3) undergo one unannounced inspection within one year. This agreement is in response to Flavorcraft’s production and labeling of products as organic before being added to the organic certificate.
4/1/2019: Meadow Valley Farm (Miller) – Apple Creek, Ohio
Meadow Valley agreed to a partial suspension of its organic certification due to the presence of a prohibited substance caused when a pipeline was installed on the property. The partial suspension is effective for three years from the installation date for the affected land.
3/27/2019: Summer Wind Farms, LLC – Newfield, New Jersey
Summer Wind Farms agreed to submit its annual certification renewal application, all required documentation, and all required fees on time. Summer also agrees to respond to all certifier requirements by the deadline. This agreement is in response Summer Wind Farms’ failure to timely submit its annual certification application, documentation and fees for two certification years.
3/15/2019: Freeman Yoder (Hillside Organics) – Utica, Minnesota
Hillside agreed that for the 2019 and 2020 certification years, it will respond to all certifier requests and resolve noncompliances by stated deadline. This agreement is in response to Hillside’s failure to respond to its certifier regarding noncompliances by the certifier’s set deadline.
3/12/2019: Philip Bettin – Trimont, Minnesota
Bettin agreed to: (1) for 2019 and 2020, reply to all certifier requests, including documentation requests, by the set deadline; (2) complete missing sections of the organic system plan within 60 days of agreement execution date; (3) appropriately label all storage in his owned and rented storage sites, including a bin identification system and placing an organic designation on the bins used to store organic products, by next schedule inspection by certifier; and (4) for 2019 and 2020, answer all corrective actions issued by its certifier by the set deadline. This agreement is in response to Bettin’s failure to resolve noncompliances regarding record keeping despite numerous requests from its certifier.
3/7/2019: Steve Miller (Jubilee Meadows) – Mt. Gilead, Ohio
Miller agreed to: (1) submit the annual certification renewal application and applicable fees to its certifier by the annual renewal date determined for 2019 and 2020; and (2) reply to all certifier requests, including documentation requests, by the deadline set by its certifier. This agreement is in response to Miller’s failure to submit his annual certification renewal application and applicable fees for 2018 to his certifier by the annual certification date.
3/5/2019: American Pop Corn Company – Sioux Falls, Iowa
American Pop Corn Company agreed to refrain from engaging in any manufacturing practice until and unless the practice is included in its organic system plan and approved by its certifying agent. This includes running organic popcorn kernels through a color sorter to clean said kernel. This agreement is in response American Pop Corn Company conducting a manufacturing process for which it was not approved or certified, specifically the cleaning of organic popcorn kernels.
12/12/2018: BCJJ Farms – Limon, Colorado
BCJJ Farms agreed that within 45 days of execution of the settlement agreement to: (1) consult any individuals it deems appropriate and necessary to be able to clearly identify all acreage owned and managed by BCJJ; (2) prepare complete field histories and maps from present date to April 29, 2017 for all BCJJ acreage with distinguishing features; (3) provide to its certifier at the 2018 inspection the findings, field histories, and maps prepared during BCJJ’s internal review; (4) cooperate with certifier during the inspection and any time deemed necessary thereafter to review all documentation; (5) submit to its certifier a complete 2018 recertification application with a complete set of field histories for all land and detailed maps with distinguishing features of the land; (6) notify its certifier if there is any addition or reduction of the land/acreage identified during the inspection meeting with the certifier; and (7) appropriately address any corrective actions and noncompliances issued by its certifier by the set deadline. If BCJJ wishes to continue organic certification after 2018, it will submit an updated complete renewal certification application with all required documentation, fees, and information by the due date set by the certifier for the next three years. This agreement is in response to BCJJ’s failure to meet the conditions of a previous settlement agreement with its certifier.