In 2014, the “pollinator statute” was passed which places requirements on firms advertising plants treated with systemic insecticides that are hazardous to honeybees. In response, some firms have dropped signage and labeling plants as attractive to pollinators, others now clearly label plants treated with neonicotinoid insecticides, and other companies have sought to advertise their plants as “free of systemic insecticides,” “grown free of systemic insecticides,” or “neonicotinoid-free.” Part of the Nursery Law, Chapter 18H.14 (c), allows certified nurseries to use these special-claim programs “provided the program is reviewed and approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture before implementation.”
To meet these unique marketing claims the department can develop on a case-by-case basis a Compliance Agreement (CA) that clearly identifies a process through which a firm may create a program that can be approved by the Commissioner. In the CA, tailored to the nursery and their particular labeling plans, the nursery agrees to label only the plants or types of plants listed in the agreement that are treated in a manner that is acceptable to the MDA to attain the particular “free-from” or advertised claim. Plants included in the CA are subject to MDA inspection and testing for pesticides (dependent on the CA) at any time. Additionally, a nursery can specify only selected plants, not necessarily all of their plants for inclusion in a special program. This allows advertising and labeling of plants you know to be “free of” while not requiring the entire sales site to be “free of.”
A CA documents the responsibilities of the firm that enable the firm to make and maintain the specific plant claim(s) advertised by the firm. It also formally documents what plants are included in the special program. Through this process, a nursery documents how plants are produced from seed or plug to point of sale. Insecticide treatments must be documented and records available for review. All plants, produced on site under the direct control of the nursery “AND all imported plants a firm wants to include in a special program are subject to this documentation and review process by the MDA prior to sales approval.” Compliance agreement language for imported plants includes:
Our certification documents are $25. We are developing a Certificate of Compliance for firms operating under a compliance agreement. This certificate can be copied as needed. Inspection and certification services requested by firms to certify plants are currently $50/hour for inspection and travel time + IRS mileage rate (currently 57.5 cents/mi). Flower samples will also be collected at random and tested for chemical residue. Laboratory costs, at this time not determined, will be paid by the applicant. These fees are established to recover the costs involved in these supplemental, company requested certification services. If you have questions about the compliance agreement process or are interested in developing a compliance agreement contact Mark Schreiber at email address firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone number 651-201-6388.