Posted on June 30, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

Organic greenhouse op settles with USDA over alleged violations

Nat'l Organic Program reports 5 settlement agreements

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) on Monday reported settlement agreements with several organic operations related to 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.

One of the organic operations that signed a settlement agreement was Evansville, Wis.-based Haddinger Farms, which was certified organic for crops by Midwest Organic Services Association Inc. in 2015.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Haddinger has agreed to submit a Greenhouse Organic System Plan and undergo an unannounced inspection.

The company also agreed to provide all documentation on time, as required for its annual certification renewal and in response to any certifier requests, and fully comply with all other agreed-upon tasks and recordkeeping required to maintain its USDA organic certification.

The other four settlement agreements include:

  • Holy Cow Grass Fed in Wapato, Wash. The grass-fed beef producer has agreed to stop selling, labeling or marketing livestock products under its name; stop making organic claims on its website; and only use its website to sell livestock products from or refer customers to other entities that do not make any organic certification claims for their products.
  • Jason Shaw dba JLJ Dairy Farm in Perkinston, Miss. The NOP said the company agreed to fully comply with all certifier requests, tasks, and requirements for maintaining accurate, up-to-date records of feed fed to livestock, feed inventory, harvest yield, harvest equipment used, animal healthcare, dry matter intake and animal lists.
  • Samuel Beiler dba Echo Hollow in Millville, Pa. The NOP said the company agreed to revise its Organic System Plan (OSP) to include information on livestock feed and inputs; not use feed containing prohibited ingredients, remove from production for one year any animals treated with or fed noncompliant products; undergo an unannounced inspection; and fully comply with all agreed-upon tasks, certifier requests, and recordkeeping required to maintain its organic certification.
  • Elam King in Kinzers, Pa. The NOP said King agreed to have all inputs for its crops and livestock operation approved by its certifier, use only approved inputs and materials in its operation, and maintain appropriate records documenting commercially purchased inputs.

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