Backyard Farms earns food-safety recognition

Backyard Farms, a Madison-based year-round grower of tomatoes, received safety and sustainability certification from a global food-safety initiative.

The company is the first hydroponic greenhouse in the United States to receive this recognition, according to a release from Quality Certification Services, the organization issuing the recognition.

Founded in 2005, Backyard Farms operates 42 acres of greenhouses that produce tomatoes year-round for New England markets.

In the release, Mark Queenan, director of Quality Assurance and Food Safety at Backyard Farms, said the recognition reflected the company’s commitment to food safety.

Based in Gainesville, Florida, Quality Certification Services offers several certification levels for producers of organic and additive-free food. It is the certification program of Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers Inc., a nonprofit that began certifying organic growers in 1989 and received its U.S. Department of Agriculture accreditation in 2001.

Fish management council meeting in Portland

Portland is hosting a meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council.

The meeting began Tuesday and continues through Thursday. The council – an intergovernmental body that represents state and federal interests – will consider a request for emergency action regarding the Atlantic herring fishery.

The herring fishery has faced restrictions this year because of concerns about stock depletion. Herring fishermen are nearing their haddock bycatch limit for Georges Bank and are asking the council for emergency help. Exceeding the cap would effectively shut the herring fishery down. Many haddock fishermen oppose raising the bycatch cap.

Reports about scallops and groundfish are also on the agenda.

SunTrust to pay $1 billion over faulty mortgage loans

SunTrust has agreed to pay nearly $1 billion to resolve allegations that it underwrote and endorsed faulty mortgage loans, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The $968 million settlement, reached with the Justice Department and other government agencies, will include money for homeowner relief and a requirement that the company improve its handling of mortgage loans and foreclosures.

In announcing the agreement, authorities said SunTrust Mortgage, a Richmond, Virginia-based mortgage lender and subsidiary of SunTrust Banks Inc., originated and underwrote bad loans between 2006 and 2012, gave borrowers false and misleading information about the status of foreclosure proceedings and charged unauthorized fees.

– From staff and news services