7 CFR 800.187 - Conflicts of interest
(a) General. Warehouse samplers are exempt from the conflict-of-interest provisions of this section.
(b) What constitutes a gratuity. For the purposes of these regulations, the term “gratuity” shall include any favor, entertainment, gift, tip, loan, payment for unauthorized or fictitious work, unusual discount, or anything of monetary value. The term shall not include (1) the occasional exchange of a cup of coffee or similar social courtesies of nominal value in a business or work relationship if the exchange is wholly free of any embarrassing or improper implications; (2) the acceptance of unsolicited advertising material such as pencils, pens, and note pads of nominal value if the material is wholly free of any embarrassing or improper implications; and (3) the exchange of the usual courtesies in an obvious family or personal relationship (including those between official personnel and their parents, spouses, children, or close personal friends) when the circumstances make it clear that the exchange is the result of the family or personal relationship, rather than a business or work relationship.
(c) Conflicts. In addition to the conflicts of interest prohibited by section 11 of the Act, the activities specified in this paragraph shall also be considered to be a conflict of interest. Accordingly, no official personnel shall, during the term of their license or authorization (including any period of suspension):
(1) Accept any gratuity.
(2) Accept any fee or charge or other thing of monetary value, in addition to the published fee or charge, for the performance of official inspection or weighing services under circumstances in which the acceptance could result, or create the appearance of resulting, in (i) the use of their office or position for undue private gain, (ii) an undertaking to give undue preferential treatment to any group or any person, or (iii) any other loss of independence or impartiality in the performance of official inspection or Class X or Class Y weighing services.
(3) Knowingly perform, or participate in performing, an inspection or weighing service on grain in which they have a direct or indirect financial interest.
(4) Engage in the business by buying, selling, transporting, cleaning, elevating, storing, binning, mixing, blending, drying, treating, fumigating, or other preparation of grain (other than a grower of grain, or in the disposition of inspection samples); or in the business of cleaning, treating, or fitting carriers or containers for transporting or storing grain; the merchandising for nonfarm use of equipment for cleaning, drying, treating, fumigating, or otherwise processing, handling, or storing grain; or the merchandising of grain inspection or weighing equipment (other than buying or selling by official personnel of the equipment for use in the performance of their official services).
(5) Seek or hold any appointive or elective office in a grain industry organization or association. This provision does not apply to organizations of official inspectors or official weighers.
(6) Participate in any transaction involving the purchase or sale of corporate stocks or bonds, grain or grain-related commodities, or other property for speculative or income purposes if the transaction could reasonably be construed to interfere with the proper and impartial performance of official inspection for Class X or Class Y weighing services. Official personnel are not prohibited from (i) producing grain as a grower and selling the grain; (ii) making bona fide investments in governmental obligations, banking institutions, savings and loan associations, and other tangibles and intangibles that are clearly not involved in the production, transportation, storage, marketing, or processing of grain; or (iii) borrowing money from banks or other financial institutions on customary terms.
(d) Reports of interests. Official personnel shall report information regarding their employment or other business or financial interests which may be required by the Service.
(e) Avoiding conflicts of interest. Official personnel shall not acquire any financial interest or engage in any activity that would result in a violation of this § 800.187, or § 800.186, or section 11 of the Act and shall not permit their spouses, minor children, or blood relatives who reside in their immediate households to acquire any such interest or engage in any such activity. For the purpose of this section, the interest of a spouse, minor child, or blood relative who is a resident of the immediate household of official personnel shall be considered to be an interest of the official personnel.
(f) Disposing of a conflict of interest -
(1) Remedial action. Upon being informed that a conflict of interest exists and that remedial action is required, an applicant for a license and official personnel shall take immediate action to end the conflict of interest and inform the Service of the action taken.
(2) Hardship cases. Applicants and official personnel who believe that remedial action will cause undue personal hardship may request an exception by forwarding to the Service a written statement setting forth the facts, circumstances, and reasons for requesting an exception.
(3) Failure to terminate. If a final determination is made by the Service that a conflict of interest does exist and should not be excepted, failure to terminate the conflict of interest shall subject: (i) An applicant for a license to a dismissal of the application; (ii) An employee of the Service to disciplinary action; and (iii) A licensee to license revocation.