(1) Whenever the department has reason to believe that a violation of Title 80, chapter 5, MCA, or any adopted rule thereunder has occurred and the department finds it in the public interest to assess a civil penalty, it may initiate a civil penalty action pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.
(2) Each violation shall be considered a separate offense and is subject to a separate penalty not to exceed $1,000. Each violation within a lot of seed may be considered a separate offense. A repeat violation shall be considered a first violation if it occurred two or more years after the previous violation.
(3) The penalty matrixes set forth in this rule establish the basic penalty value for each offense. Factors dealing with the violation may cause the matrix penalty to increase or decrease. To determine the appropriate penalty, the department may consider the gravity of the violation, degree of care exercised, and financial hardship.