Posted on October 7, 2019 by Sustainable Food News

2nd organic dairy operation settles with feds

Minnesota's Bill Lieser Farm agrees to unannounced inspection

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) reported Friday that an organic dairy farmer in Minnesota has settled noncompliances by agreeing to respond to its organic certifier, Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO), requests on time and undergo one unannounced inspection within the next year.

According to the NOP’s Organic Integrity Database, Bill Lieser Farm in Paynesville, Minn., maintains two organic certificates for crops (barley, corn, cow milk, hay, pasture) and livestock (cattle: dairy – last third gestation – slaughter eligible, and cow milk), which were granted by OTCO in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

Last week, the NOP reported a settlement agreement with Daniel Lapp, an organic dairy farmer in Indiana.

The NOP said settlements resolve noncompliance issues with federal organic standards, and are typically “executed as alternatives to administrative proceedings that may result in suspension or revocation of certification.”

The NOP changed the way it released information on settlement agreements last year, telling Sustainable Food News at the time that it was “updating the reporting procedures for settlement actions in order to ensure consistency across program areas,” and that information released on settlements going forward would be “formatted in the same way other regulatory programs handle this type of enforcement action.”

That means, in contrast to previous disclosures of settlement agreements, the new reporting format does not include an electronic PDF file of the actual settlement nor does it include any explanation as to what led to the agreement or any amounts of civil penalties the companies had agreed to pay.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, according to the information on the NOP website, Bill Lieser Farm has also agreed to maintain and make available for inspection:

  • written records of all operation activities and transactions
  • all records needed for its certifier to conduct traceback and mass balance audits
  • records on the animals’ feed demand and actual amounts fed
  • sufficient pasture to ensure animals receive at least 30 percent 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
  • clean, dry bedding for animals
  • complete records on the type and amount of all crops harvested
  • documentation on any deviations from its organic system plan in its annual update

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