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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of January 24, 2020

Title 7Subtitle BChapter ISubchapter MPart 205Subpart G → Subject Group


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM
Subpart G—Administrative


Compliance

§205.660   General.

(a) The National Organic Program's Program Manager, on behalf of the Secretary, may inspect and review certified production and handling operations and accredited certifying agents for compliance with the Act or regulations in this part.

(b) The Program Manager may initiate suspension or revocation proceedings against a certified operation:

(1) When the Program Manager has reason to believe that a certified operation has violated or is not in compliance with the Act or regulations in this part; or

(2) When a certifying agent or a State organic program's governing State official fails to take appropriate action to enforce the Act or regulations in this part.

(c) The Program Manager may initiate suspension or revocation of a certifying agent's accreditation if the certifying agent fails to meet, conduct, or maintain accreditation requirements pursuant to the Act or this part.

(d) Each notification of noncompliance, rejection of mediation, noncompliance resolution, proposed suspension or revocation, and suspension or revocation issued pursuant to §205.662, §205.663, and §205.665 and each response to such notification must be sent to the recipient's place of business via a delivery service which provides dated return receipts.

§205.661   Investigation of certified operations.

(a) A certifying agent may investigate complaints of noncompliance with the Act or regulations of this part concerning production and handling operations certified as organic by the certifying agent. A certifying agent must notify the Program Manager of all compliance proceedings and actions taken pursuant to this part.

(b) A State organic program's governing State official may investigate complaints of noncompliance with the Act or regulations in this part concerning organic production or handling operations operating in the State.

§205.662   Noncompliance procedure for certified operations.

(a) Notification. When an inspection, review, or investigation of a certified operation by a certifying agent or a State organic program's governing State official reveals any noncompliance with the Act or regulations in this part, a written notification of noncompliance shall be sent to the certified operation. Such notification shall provide:

(1) A description of each noncompliance;

(2) The facts upon which the notification of noncompliance is based; and

(3) The date by which the certified operation must rebut or correct each noncompliance and submit supporting documentation of each such correction when correction is possible.

(b) Resolution. When a certified operation demonstrates that each noncompliance has been resolved, the certifying agent or the State organic program's governing State official, as applicable, shall send the certified operation a written notification of noncompliance resolution.

(c) Proposed suspension or revocation. When rebuttal is unsuccessful or correction of the noncompliance is not completed within the prescribed time period, the certifying agent or State organic program's governing State official shall send the certified operation a written notification of proposed suspension or revocation of certification of the entire operation or a portion of the operation, as applicable to the noncompliance. When correction of a noncompliance is not possible, the notification of noncompliance and the proposed suspension or revocation of certification may be combined in one notification. The notification of proposed suspension or revocation of certification shall state:

(1) The reasons for the proposed suspension or revocation;

(2) The proposed effective date of such suspension or revocation;

(3) The impact of a suspension or revocation on future eligibility for certification; and

(4) The right to request mediation pursuant to §205.663 or to file an appeal pursuant to §205.681.

(d) Willful violations. Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, if a certifying agent or State organic program's governing State official has reason to believe that a certified operation has willfully violated the Act or regulations in this part, the certifying agent or State organic program's governing State official shall send the certified operation a notification of proposed suspension or revocation of certification of the entire operation or a portion of the operation, as applicable to the noncompliance.

(e) Suspension or revocation. (1) If the certified operation fails to correct the noncompliance, to resolve the issue through rebuttal or mediation, or to file an appeal of the proposed suspension or revocation of certification, the certifying agent or State organic program's governing State official shall send the certified operation a written notification of suspension or revocation.

(2) A certifying agent or State organic program's governing State official must not send a notification of suspension or revocation to a certified operation that has requested mediation pursuant to §205.663 or filed an appeal pursuant to §205.681, while final resolution of either is pending.

(f) Eligibility. (1) A certified operation whose certification has been suspended under this section may at any time, unless otherwise stated in the notification of suspension, submit a request to the Secretary for reinstatement of its certification. The request must be accompanied by evidence demonstrating correction of each noncompliance and corrective actions taken to comply with and remain in compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

(2) A certified operation or a person responsibly connected with an operation whose certification has been revoked will be ineligible to receive certification for a period of 5 years following the date of such revocation, Except, That, the Secretary may, when in the best interest of the certification program, reduce or eliminate the period of ineligibility.

(g) Violations of Act. In addition to suspension or revocation, any certified operation that:

(1) Knowingly sells or labels a product as organic, except in accordance with the Act, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than the amount specified in §3.91(b)(1) of this title per violation.

(2) Makes a false statement under the Act to the Secretary, a State organic program's governing State official, or a certifying agent shall be subject to the provisions of section 1001 of title 18, United States Code.

[65 FR 80637, Dec. 21, 2000, as amended at 75 FR 17560, Apr. 7, 2010; 79 FR 6430, Feb. 5, 2015]

§205.663   Mediation.

Any dispute with respect to denial of certification or proposed suspension or revocation of certification under this part may be mediated at the request of the applicant for certification or certified operation and with acceptance by the certifying agent. Mediation shall be requested in writing to the applicable certifying agent. If the certifying agent rejects the request for mediation, the certifying agent shall provide written notification to the applicant for certification or certified operation. The written notification shall advise the applicant for certification or certified operation of the right to request an appeal, pursuant to §205.681, within 30 days of the date of the written notification of rejection of the request for mediation. If mediation is accepted by the certifying agent, such mediation shall be conducted by a qualified mediator mutually agreed upon by the parties to the mediation. If a State organic program is in effect, the mediation procedures established in the State organic program, as approved by the Secretary, will be followed. The parties to the mediation shall have no more than 30 days to reach an agreement following a mediation session. If mediation is unsuccessful, the applicant for certification or certified operation shall have 30 days from termination of mediation to appeal the certifying agent's decision pursuant to §205.681. Any agreement reached during or as a result of the mediation process shall be in compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part. The Secretary may review any mediated agreement for conformity to the Act and the regulations in this part and may reject any agreement or provision not in conformance with the Act or the regulations in this part.

§205.664   [Reserved]

§205.665   Noncompliance procedure for certifying agents.

(a) Notification. When an inspection, review, or investigation of an accredited certifying agent by the Program Manager reveals any noncompliance with the Act or regulations in this part, a written notification of noncompliance shall be sent to the certifying agent. Such notification shall provide:

(1) A description of each noncompliance;

(2) The facts upon which the notification of noncompliance is based; and

(3) The date by which the certifying agent must rebut or correct each noncompliance and submit supporting documentation of each correction when correction is possible.

(b) Resolution. When the certifying agent demonstrates that each noncompliance has been resolved, the Program Manager shall send the certifying agent a written notification of noncompliance resolution.

(c) Proposed suspension or revocation. When rebuttal is unsuccessful or correction of the noncompliance is not completed within the prescribed time period, the Program Manager shall send a written notification of proposed suspension or revocation of accreditation to the certifying agent. The notification of proposed suspension or revocation shall state whether the certifying agent's accreditation or specified areas of accreditation are to be suspended or revoked. When correction of a noncompliance is not possible, the notification of noncompliance and the proposed suspension or revocation may be combined in one notification. The notification of proposed suspension or revocation of accreditation shall state:

(1) The reasons for the proposed suspension or revocation;

(2) The proposed effective date of the suspension or revocation;

(3) The impact of a suspension or revocation on future eligibility for accreditation; and

(4) The right to file an appeal pursuant to §205.681.

(d) Willful violations. Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, if the Program Manager has reason to believe that a certifying agent has willfully violated the Act or regulations in this part, the Program Manager shall send a written notification of proposed suspension or revocation of accreditation to the certifying agent.

(e) Suspension or revocation. When the accredited certifying agent fails to file an appeal of the proposed suspension or revocation of accreditation, the Program Manager shall send a written notice of suspension or revocation of accreditation to the certifying agent.

(f) Cessation of certification activities. A certifying agent whose accreditation is suspended or revoked must:

(1) Cease all certification activities in each area of accreditation and in each State for which its accreditation is suspended or revoked.

(2) Transfer to the Secretary and make available to any applicable State organic program's governing State official all records concerning its certification activities that were suspended or revoked.

(g) Eligibility. (1) A certifying agent whose accreditation is suspended by the Secretary under this section may at any time, unless otherwise stated in the notification of suspension, submit a request to the Secretary for reinstatement of its accreditation. The request must be accompanied by evidence demonstrating correction of each noncompliance and corrective actions taken to comply with and remain in compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

(2) A certifying agent whose accreditation is revoked by the Secretary shall be ineligible to be accredited as a certifying agent under the Act and the regulations in this part for a period of not less than 3 years following the date of such revocation.

§§205.666-205.667   [Reserved]

§205.668   Noncompliance procedures under State organic programs.

(a) A State organic program's governing State official must promptly notify the Secretary of commencement of any noncompliance proceeding against a certified operation and forward to the Secretary a copy of each notice issued.

(b) A noncompliance proceeding, brought by a State organic program's governing State official against a certified operation, shall be appealable pursuant to the appeal procedures of the State organic program. There shall be no subsequent rights of appeal to the Secretary. Final decisions of a State may be appealed to the United States District Court for the district in which such certified operation is located.

(c) A State organic program's governing State official may review and investigate complaints of noncompliance with the Act or regulations concerning accreditation of certifying agents operating in the State. When such review or investigation reveals any noncompliance, the State organic program's governing State official shall send a written report of noncompliance to the Program Manager. The report shall provide a description of each noncompliance and the facts upon which the noncompliance is based.

§205.669   [Reserved]

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