Hydro Agri North America has reached a settlement with California regulators over the alleged sale of short weight bags of fertilizer during a period from April 2002 through April 2003.
Under the settlement, which was approved by Judge Knoll Owen of the Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma, Hydro Agri will make restitution to its customers who may have purchased short weight bags of fertilizer, reimburse the State of California for its investigation costs and pay a fine.
"We are pleased to put this issue behind us," says Hydro Agri President Edward J. Cavazuti. " We have a long and proud history of standing behind our product and will continue to do so."
As noted in an open letter to its customers, since first becoming aware of the possibility that some bagged fertilizer products shipped from its San Diego terminal and the Port of Sacramento were underweight, Hydro Agri has cooperated fully with state regulators. In addition the company has undertaken a thorough internal investigation of the scope of and reasons for its bagging problems. Based upon its investigation, Hydro Agri has concluded that the bagging problems were principally associated with variances in product density and process issues in its bagging operations.
Hydro Agri's investigation has also confirmed that the problem appears limited to the period from April 2002 through April 2003, and that during this period certain of its 50-pound fertilizer bags were, on average, underweight by about 1/3 pound or less than three-quarters of 1%.
After discovering the problem, to assure its customers that no additional underweight bags were being produced at its San Diego terminal or the Port of Sacramento, Hydro Agri has undertaken a time consuming manual bag check of all fertilizer products bagged at such facilities. This has caused temporary delays in delivering some product to customers.
"We are in the process of looking at ways to upgrade our bagging operations and get product to our customers as quickly as possible, without compromising our unwavering commitment to packaging accuracy," says Cavazuti, who went on to note that since being notified of the issues, "our customers have been both understanding and supportive. They know this is not the way we do business.
"As we told our customers when we discovered this issue - we will make things right with them, and this agreement with the regulators is a significant step in that direction," says Cavazuti.