The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) on Monday reported settlement agreements with two organic operations related to alleged violations of federal regulations.
The agency 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 or accreditation, as well as civil penalties for the knowing sale of products in violation of the USDA organic regulations.”
Since 2018, the NOP has declined to make available an electronic PDF file of the actual settlement as well as the amounts of civil penalties the companies had agreed to pay, if any.
Consistent with that new format, the NOP did not disclose the specific reasons for the settlement agreements reported Monday, but did share a few details.
Xinghua GL Stevia Co., Ltd. is one of the world’s top stevia manufacturers and exporters. Based in Jiangsu Province, China, Xinghua GL Stevia was founded in 2005 and certified organic in 2014 by Germany-based Certification of Environmental Standards – GmbH (CERES).
According to the NOP, Xinghua GL Stevia has agreed to prepare “comprehensive standard operating procedures” for its organic and conventional production, including steps to reduce cross-contamination of organic products.
The NOP also said the company agreed to provide training on organic processing procedures for its staff, and use only resins made with allowed substances.
Further, the NOP said the company agreed to “respond to certifier requests on time; and fully comply with all recordkeeping requirements.”
The other reported settlement involves Lord’s Bounty Farm LLC in Jefferson, Ore., which was certified organic by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) in 2014 for crops and livestock (dairy cows).
The NOP said Lord’s Bounty has agreed to undergo an unannounced inspection, and “submit proposed Organic System Plan changes to its certifier before implementing them.” Further, the NOP said the company agreed to “fully comply with recordkeeping requirements; respond to certifier requests on time; and use only certifier-approved inputs.”