DATCP: Iowa County Farm Supply Business Pays Penalty for Missing License

Contact: Jane H. Larson (608)224-5005

MADISON–An Iowa County fertilizer business has paid $5,000 in penalties and court costs for violating Wisconsin’s law that governs the sale and manufacture of fertilizer, and soil or plant additives.

Midwestern Bio-Ag Products and Services, Inc., manufacturers and distributes feed and fertilizer from their business in Blue Mounds, Wis. Although the company carries the appropriate licenses for feed and fertilizer, they did not have a license to manufacture or distribute soil or plant additives. The licenses and permits are issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“Soil or plant additives are any substance that will be applied to seeds, soil or plants with the intent to promote or sustain plant growth, improve crop yields or improve plant quality,” said Lorett Jellings, DATCP environmental enforcement supervisor. “The additives may also claim to improve soil fertility or affect the soil properties. Soil or plant additives are different from fertilizer so a company must carry a separate license and each product must have a permit issued by our agency.”

In July 2005, representatives from Midwestern Bio-Ag were distributing information for three soil or plant additive products at a major farm show in Clark County. Under state law, distribution of literature is considered product distribution.

“At the time of the farm show, Midwestern Bio-Ag did not hold a soil or plant additive license and the company did not hold permits for the products listed in the literature,” Jellings said. According to Jellings, earlier in 2005, the state agriculture department placed stop sale orders on fertilizer and soil or plant additive products at their Blue Mounds facility for not having valid permits and for not having a soil or plant additive license. Midwestern Bio-Ag has since been working the department to obtain the necessary permits. Once a product permit is granted, the company will then obtain a soil or plant additive license.

“This case is about making sure that all of our distributors follow the rules when distributing fertilizers and soil or plant additives, whether they are organic, nontraditional or traditional fertilizers, we still expect businesses to be in compliance with state laws and regulations,” Jellings said. “In addition, our regulations are in place to protect consumers so they are getting what they pay for in terms of the product nutrients and that any product claims are truthful and substantiated by the manufacturer.”

The department was represented in the case by Darwin Zwieg, Clark County District Attorney.