Settlement Agreements

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.

Current Year

6/10/2021: Frisian Farm – Wendell, Idaho

Frisian Farm withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required at inspections and to maintain organic certification. Frisian Farm also agrees to maintain, and make available at inspections, seed purchase records, seed tags and all other records documenting the operation’s transactions and activities; not to use seed that has or is suspected of having a prohibited substance; use only certifier-approved seed; and to confirm that seed received is the organic-approved seed the operation ordered.

6/4/2021: Productos Organicos el Capricho S.P.R. de R.L. de C.V. – Baja California Cur, Mexico

Productos Organicos el Capricho S.P.R. de R.L. de C.V. (Capricho) withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to pay its certifier all certification and inspection-related fees by the set deadline. Capricho also agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required at inspections and to maintain organic certification.

6/3/2021: Highland Acres – Cazenovia, Wisconsin

Highland Acres withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required at inspections and to maintain organic certification, including feed purchase records, field histories, individual herd health records and a record of any other transactions and activities. Highland agrees to update its Organic System Plan and Materials List with the list of allowed vaccines and any other required revisions; use only certifier approved inputs for its crop and livestock operation; remove any unapproved inputs and vaccines from its property; comply with the terms of its May 13, 2020 settlement agreement, which remains in effect; and undergo an unannounced inspection within a year.

6/2/2021: Erolcorp, S.A. – Guayas, Ecuador

Erolcorp, S.A. withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to submit information documenting its organic coffee and organic soybean oil suppliers and an updated Organic System Plan (OSP); annually update its OSP; maintain current organic certificates for its suppliers; only use the USDA organic seal on products previously included in its OSP and whose suppliers’ organic status has been verified. Erolcorp also agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification, including ingredient purchase records and a description of the operation’s practices and procedures.

5/28/2021: SureSource Commodities LLC – Petrolia, Ontario, Canada

SureSource Commodities LLC agrees to pay a civil penalty of $115,000, have residue testing performed by an accredited U.S. lab on all incoming shipments from each supplier during a prescribed period, and provide USDA with the results. Should a prohibited substance be detected, SureSource will move that product out of the organic supply chain and extend the testing period for that supplier. This agreement is in response to detections of prohibited substances on previously imported products represented as organic without the required TraceNet certificates to verify the organic status of the products.

5/19/2021: John Z. Stoltzfus – Orangeville, Pennsylvania

John Z. Stoltzfus withdraws his appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification, including a five-year planting history for all certified fields. Mr. Stoltzfus agrees to maintain readily auditable, written records fully documenting his operation’s transactions and activities. He also agrees to make sure all animals are fed at least 30 percent of dry matter intake from pasture; maintain records documenting the animals’ DMI intake documentation; and undergo an unannounced inspection within one year.

5/19/2021: Red and Blue Berries Ltda. – Curico, Chile

Red and Blue Berries Ltda. withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to submit a plan for maintaining valid documentation that allows for successful product traceback; implement corrective actions in response to noncompliances identified during the May 20, 2020 and September 11, 2020 inspections. The company agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification, including documentation for all transactions and quarterly Control Team reports. Red and Blue Berries also agrees undergo an unannounced inspection and to not sell, label, or represent any conventional products as organic.

5/18/2021: Union Beverage Packers LLC – Hillside, New Jersey

Union Beverage Packers withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to submit responses and documentation for noncompliances identified in its May 3, 2021 Corrective Action Report; submit new documentation for the revised Honest Tea product formulations, as identified in the July 15, 2020 Request for Additional Information; update its organic system plan; and notify its certifier when the company must get the requested documentation from a private label client. Union Beverage also agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification, including new information or revisions made by a private label client.

5/14/2021: Fifth Nutrisupply Inc. (Fifth) – Montclair, California

Fifth Nutrisupply withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees to pay a civil penalty of $19,000 for noncompliances identified in its November 23, 2020 Notice of Civil Penalty. Fifth also agrees not to sell, label, represent or advertise its products as organic while its organic certification is suspended; that in order to seek future organic certification, the company must apply to a USDA-accredited certifier to reinstate its certification; and if certification is reinstated, Fifth will maintain documentation required to substantiate its products’ organic status.

5/6/2021: Bensvue Farms LLC – Lansing, New York

Bensvue Farms withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, agrees not to purchase feed or other items from uncertified suppliers. Bensvue also agrees to obtain the current organic certificate for any prospective supplier before making purchases; contact its certifier or check the NOP Organic Integrity Database about questions on a supplier’s organic status; and update its Organic System Plan and Purchased Feed Log with feed suppliers and purchases.

5/3/2021: Bent Creek Organics – Ithaca, Michigan

Bent Creek Organics withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, agrees not to use any input containing a prohibited substance. Bent Creek Organic also agrees to use only certifier-approved inputs, identify such inputs in its Organic System Plan, and conduct soil tests to determine specific input needs. The company further agrees not to represent, label or sell as organic any remaining soybeans harvested from the treated field; to prevent contamination of its organic crops with prohibited substances; submit a management plan on how it will prevent contamination from using the wind turbine located at the edge of its organic field; and undergo an unannounced inspection.

4/30/2021: Alpine Echo Farm – Holland Patent, New York

Alpine Echo Farm (Alpine) withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification, including its annual renewal application and related fees. Alpine also agrees that its annual renewal date is now set for February 28 of each year.

4/26/2021: Jim TenDolle Farm LLC – Oostburg, Wisconsin

Jim TenDolle Farm agrees to pay a civil penalty of $500 and immediately stop selling, labeling, or representing its products as organic without certification.

4/9/2021: Robert Schmidt Seed Farm LLC – Columbus, Nebraska

Robert Schmidt See Farm withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, agrees that its organic certification is suspended upon execution of the Agreement on April 9, 2021; that it may not to represent, label or sell its products as organic while not certified; and that in order to seek future organic certification, the company must correct all noncompliances and undergo the complete certification process.

3/31/2021: Tatiana Elizabeth Romero Villamagua – Machala, El Oro, Ecuador

Tatiana Elizabeth Romero Villamagua withdraws her appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, and agrees that the grower group crops certification for bananas is suspended, while the crops certification for cacao and the handling certification are unaffected and remain valid. Ms. Villamagua agrees she may not handle bananas from the previous grower group members and may only represent, label or sell cacao as organic under her crop certification. She also agrees not to add grower group members to the crops certification without certifier approval or to represent, label or sell member products until they are added to the crop certification. Ms. Villamagua agrees to maintain buffer zones around the cacao crops, to make real-time updates to the Organic System Plan (OSP) and not to use inputs on the cacao crops unless they are certifier approved and listed in the OSP. Ms. Villagua also agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification and will undergo an unannounced inspection within 18 months.

3/25/2021: Alfredo Torres – Mosca, Colorado

Alfredo Torres withdraws his appeals, waives further appeal rights in this matter and agrees to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain organic certification, including a list of inputs used on his organic and conventional land, invoices for those inputs, field history forms and an updated Organic System Plan.

3/17/2021: Fraga Farmstead Creamery LLC – Gales Creek, Oregon

Fraga Farmstead Creamery (Fraga) withdraws its appeals, waives further appeal rights in this matter and agrees to surrender its organic certification for all scopes and provide any required documentation to its certifier. Fraga agrees that only the specific products identified in the agreement are considered in the stream of commerce; and if any of the identified products are not sold in their entirety by June 1, 2021, the remaining product may not be sold as organic; it will not label, sell or represent any products as organic while the company remains uncertified; and from the date of the agreement, it will not produce additional products to be represented, labeled or sold as organic.

3/15/2021: Sunrise Family Farms, Inc. – Norwich, New York

Sunrise Family Farms, Inc. agrees to pay a civil penalty of $15,000 and immediately stop selling, labeling, or representing its products as organic without certification.

2/26/2021: APAX USA, Inc. – Castle Rock, Colorado

APAX USA withdraws its appeals, waives further appeal rights in this matter and agrees to surrender its organic certification and notify its certifier. APAX agrees not to manufacture, label, sell or represent its products as organic while the company remains uncertified. The company also agrees it may resell finished organic products sourced, manufactured and labeled by a third party, can only state on organic product labels that products are being distributed by APAX, and that in order to seek future organic certification, the company must correct all noncompliances and undergo the complete certification process.

2/24/2021: Conscious Coconut, LLC – Tampa, Florida

Conscious Coconut withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter and agrees to pay a civil penalty of $2,000 for continuing to label, sell or represent its products as organic while suspended. Conscious Coconut also agrees that future organic certification will require the company to undergo the complete certification process, including application, inspection, payment of certification fees and the proper identification of co-packers or other operations handling its products.

2/23/2021: Joel Gierach – Mayville, Wisconsin

Mr. Gierach withdraws his appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter and agrees to pay the adjusted organic certification fees for 2020 and 2021. Mr. Gierach also agrees to submit his 2021 and 2022 certification renewal applications on time and to fully comply with and provide on-time responses to all certifier requests for information, documentation and other recordkeeping required to maintain its organic certification.

2/8/2021: Organic Teas United LLC – Tacoma, Washington

Organic Teas United withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, confirms that it surrendered its organic certification and agrees the surrender is final and in force. Organic Teas Unlimited agrees not to label, sell or represent its products and those packaged for other companies, as organic unless those other companies are certified. Organic Teas Unlimited also agrees to remove the USDA organic seal and any organic claims from its products; discontinue use of its name on the principal panel of conventional product labels; and pay its certifier any outstanding balance. The company agrees that future organic certification will require it to undergo the complete certification process, including application, inspection, payment of certification fees and correction of all previously cited noncompliances.

2/2/2021: Black Squirrel, LLC dba King Creek Queen’s Greens, dba Queen’s Greens – Amherst, Massachusetts

Queen’s Greens withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, agrees that its crops certification is suspended for two years, commencing on May 1, 2021, and agrees that until May 1, 2021 it may complete the harvest, labeling and sale of its winter greenhouse products as organic. Queen’s Greens also agrees not to label, sell, represent or make online claims about its products as organic.

1/27/2021: Bennett Dairy Inc. – Kokomo, Mississippi

Bennett Dairy withdraws its appeal, waives further appeal rights in this matter, confirms that its certifier will accept the surrender of its organic certification for crops and livestock and agrees not to label, sell or represent its products as organic. Bennett also agrees future organic certification will require the company to undergo the complete certification process, including application, inspection and payment of certification fees.