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CALIFORNIA | AGRICULTURE | THE STATE

USDA Reaches Pact With Fruit, Nut Co-Ops

March 07, 1997|Times Staff and Wire Reports

The U.S. Agriculture Department said it reached compliance agreements with four major fruit and nut co-operatives and decided not to bar them from government programs. The agreements were signed with four co-operatives affiliated with Sun-Diamond Growers of California: Diamond Walnut Growers Inc., Sun-Maid Growers of California, Sunsweet Growers Inc. and Valley Fig Growers. The agency also lifted a ban on Hazelnut Growers of Oregon because it said the co-operative was not as closely associated to Sun-Diamond as previously indicated. However, Sun-Land Products of California, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun-Diamond, is being barred from doing business with the government for three years. Sun-Diamond, the nation's largest fruit co-operative, was barred from participating in government programs on Dec. 18, 1996, for a period of three years after it was convicted for giving illegal gifts to former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, participating in an illegal corporate campaign contribution scheme for Espy's brother Henry and violating federal campaign contributions laws. The compliance agreements require the establishment of a corporate code of business ethics and conduct, ethics training for employees, training of all employees in appropriate methods of dealing with government employees, revision of travel and entertainment expense policies and other actions.

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