IOWA CITY, IOWA – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently signed a consent order to require Lynch Livestock Inc. to pay a civil penalty of $445,626.

In a statement on its website, Lynch Livestock said that USDA received a complaint in January 2021 that it was manipulating the scale and issuing false tickets at one of the hog buying stations. Pork producers received artificially low payments for their hogs. The company said it has already paid the restitution and a civil penalty which has been distributed to pork producers who were underpaid for hogs.

The hog dealer said it investigated the alleged violations and self-reported the violations to the USDA. It plans to fully cooperate with the agency’s investigation.

Lynch Livestock said it terminated the employees who manipulated the scales and issued false tickets. The company plans to establish an internal whistleblower process.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the USDA said these practices were going on from January 2018 to December 2020.

The hog dealer also hired Dan Sutherland to lead the organization.

“Dan Sutherland has a long history in the industry and deep experience in matters of compliance,” said Gary Lynch of Lynch Livestock. “Although this situation arose due to the actions of a few employees at one buying station, we take this matter very seriously. We have already made great strides in establishing new processes and procedures to empower employees and ensure producers receive fair compensation. We expect Dan will not only help us move forward with these initiatives, but also help Lynch Livestock innovate further in this area.”

In 2017, the USDA also fined Lynch Livestock for similar practices.