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e-CFR data is current as of August 13, 2020

Title 7Subtitle BChapter ISubchapter MPart 205 → Subpart E


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM


Subpart E—Certification


Contents
§205.400   General requirements for certification.
§205.401   Application for certification.
§205.402   Review of application.
§205.403   On-site inspections.
§205.404   Granting certification.
§205.405   Denial of certification.
§205.406   Continuation of certification.
§§205.407-205.499   [Reserved]

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§205.400   General requirements for certification.

A person seeking to receive or maintain organic certification under the regulations in this part must:

(a) Comply with the Act and applicable organic production and handling regulations of this part;

(b) Establish, implement, and update annually an organic production or handling system plan that is submitted to an accredited certifying agent as provided for in §205.200;

(c) Permit on-site inspections with complete access to the production or handling operation, including noncertified production and handling areas, structures, and offices by the certifying agent as provided for in §205.403;

(d) Maintain all records applicable to the organic operation for not less than 5 years beyond their creation and allow authorized representatives of the Secretary, the applicable State organic program's governing State official, and the certifying agent access to such records during normal business hours for review and copying to determine compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part, as provided for in §205.103;

(e) Submit the applicable fees charged by the certifying agent; and

(f) Immediately notify the certifying agent concerning any:

(1) Application, including drift, of a prohibited substance to any field, production unit, site, facility, livestock, or product that is part of an operation; and

(2) Change in a certified operation or any portion of a certified operation that may affect its compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

[65 FR 80637, Dec. 21, 2000, as amended at 80 FR 6429, Feb. 5, 2015]

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§205.401   Application for certification.

A person seeking certification of a production or handling operation under this subpart must submit an application for certification to a certifying agent. The application must include the following information:

(a) An organic production or handling system plan, as required in §205.200;

(b) The name of the person completing the application; the applicant's business name, address, and telephone number; and, when the applicant is a corporation, the name, address, and telephone number of the person authorized to act on the applicant's behalf;

(c) The name(s) of any organic certifying agent(s) to which application has previously been made; the year(s) of application; the outcome of the application(s) submission, including, when available, a copy of any notification of noncompliance or denial of certification issued to the applicant for certification; and a description of the actions taken by the applicant to correct the noncompliances noted in the notification of noncompliance, including evidence of such correction; and

(d) Other information necessary to determine compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

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§205.402   Review of application.

(a) Upon acceptance of an application for certification, a certifying agent must:

(1) Review the application to ensure completeness pursuant to §205.401;

(2) Determine by a review of the application materials whether the applicant appears to comply or may be able to comply with the applicable requirements of subpart C of this part;

(3) Verify that an applicant who previously applied to another certifying agent and received a notification of noncompliance or denial of certification, pursuant to §205.405, has submitted documentation to support the correction of any noncompliances identified in the notification of noncompliance or denial of certification, as required in §205.405(e); and

(4) Schedule an on-site inspection of the operation to determine whether the applicant qualifies for certification if the review of application materials reveals that the production or handling operation may be in compliance with the applicable requirements of subpart C of this part.

(b) The certifying agent shall within a reasonable time:

(1) Review the application materials received and communicate its findings to the applicant;

(2) Provide the applicant with a copy of the on-site inspection report, as approved by the certifying agent, for any on-site inspection performed; and

(3) Provide the applicant with a copy of the test results for any samples taken by an inspector.

(c) The applicant may withdraw its application at any time. An applicant who withdraws its application shall be liable for the costs of services provided up to the time of withdrawal of its application. An applicant that voluntarily withdrew its application prior to the issuance of a notice of noncompliance will not be issued a notice of noncompliance. Similarly, an applicant that voluntarily withdrew its application prior to the issuance of a notice of certification denial will not be issued a notice of certification denial.

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§205.403   On-site inspections.

(a) On-site inspections. (1) A certifying agent must conduct an initial on-site inspection of each production unit, facility, and site that produces or handles organic products and that is included in an operation for which certification is requested. An on-site inspection shall be conducted annually thereafter for each certified operation that produces or handles organic products for the purpose of determining whether to approve the request for certification or whether the certification of the operation should continue.

(2)(i) A certifying agent may conduct additional on-site inspections of applicants for certification and certified operations to determine compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

(ii) The Administrator or State organic program's governing State official may require that additional inspections be performed by the certifying agent for the purpose of determining compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

(iii) Additional inspections may be announced or unannounced at the discretion of the certifying agent or as required by the Administrator or State organic program's governing State official.

(b) Scheduling. (1) The initial on-site inspection must be conducted within a reasonable time following a determination that the applicant appears to comply or may be able to comply with the requirements of subpart C of this part: Except, That, the initial inspection may be delayed for up to 6 months to comply with the requirement that the inspection be conducted when the land, facilities, and activities that demonstrate compliance or capacity to comply can be observed.

(2) All on-site inspections must be conducted when an authorized representative of the operation who is knowledgeable about the operation is present and at a time when land, facilities, and activities that demonstrate the operation's compliance with or capability to comply with the applicable provisions of subpart C of this part can be observed, except that this requirement does not apply to unannounced on-site inspections.

(c) Verification of information. The on-site inspection of an operation must verify:

(1) The operation's compliance or capability to comply with the Act and the regulations in this part;

(2) That the information, including the organic production or handling system plan, provided in accordance with §§205.401, 205.406, and 205.200, accurately reflects the practices used or to be used by the applicant for certification or by the certified operation;

(3) That prohibited substances have not been and are not being applied to the operation through means which, at the discretion of the certifying agent, may include the collection and testing of soil; water; waste; seeds; plant tissue; and plant, animal, and processed products samples.

(d) Exit interview. The inspector must conduct an exit interview with an authorized representative of the operation who is knowledgeable about the inspected operation to confirm the accuracy and completeness of inspection observations and information gathered during the on-site inspection. The inspector must also address the need for any additional information as well as any issues of concern.

(e) Documents to the inspected operation. (1) At the time of the inspection, the inspector shall provide the operation's authorized representative with a receipt for any samples taken by the inspector. There shall be no charge to the inspector for the samples taken.

(2) A copy of the on-site inspection report and any test results will be sent to the inspected operation by the certifying agent.

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§205.404   Granting certification.

(a) Within a reasonable time after completion of the initial on-site inspection, a certifying agent must review the on-site inspection report, the results of any analyses for substances conducted, and any additional information requested from or supplied by the applicant. If the certifying agent determines that the organic system plan and all procedures and activities of the applicant's operation are in compliance with the requirements of this part and that the applicant is able to conduct operations in accordance with the plan, the agent shall grant certification. The certification may include requirements for the correction of minor noncompliances within a specified time period as a condition of continued certification.

(b) The certifying agent must issue a certificate of organic operation which specifies the:

(1) Name and address of the certified operation;

(2) Effective date of certification;

(3) Categories of organic operation, including crops, wild crops, livestock, or processed products produced by the certified operation; and

(4) Name, address, and telephone number of the certifying agent.

(c) Once certified, a production or handling operation's organic certification continues in effect until surrendered by the organic operation or suspended or revoked by the certifying agent, the State organic program's governing State official, or the Administrator.

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§205.405   Denial of certification.

(a) When the certifying agent has reason to believe, based on a review of the information specified in §205.402 or §205.404, that an applicant for certification is not able to comply or is not in compliance with the requirements of this part, the certifying agent must provide a written notification of noncompliance to the applicant. When correction of a noncompliance is not possible, a notification of noncompliance and a notification of denial of certification may be combined in one notification. The notification of noncompliance 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 applicant must rebut or correct each noncompliance and submit supporting documentation of each such correction when correction is possible.

(b) Upon receipt of such notification of noncompliance, the applicant may:

(1) Correct noncompliances and submit a description of the corrective actions taken with supporting documentation to the certifying agent;

(2) Correct noncompliances and submit a new application to another certifying agent: Provided, That, the applicant must include a complete application, the notification of noncompliance received from the first certifying agent, and a description of the corrective actions taken with supporting documentation; or

(3) Submit written information to the issuing certifying agent to rebut the noncompliance described in the notification of noncompliance.

(c) After issuance of a notification of noncompliance, the certifying agent must:

(1) Evaluate the applicant's corrective actions taken and supporting documentation submitted or the written rebuttal, conduct an on-site inspection if necessary, and

(i) When the corrective action or rebuttal is sufficient for the applicant to qualify for certification, issue the applicant an approval of certification pursuant to §205.404; or

(ii) When the corrective action or rebuttal is not sufficient for the applicant to qualify for certification, issue the applicant a written notice of denial of certification.

(2) Issue a written notice of denial of certification to an applicant who fails to respond to the notification of noncompliance.

(3) Provide notice of approval or denial to the Administrator, pursuant to §205.501(a)(14).

(d) A notice of denial of certification must state the reason(s) for denial and the applicant's right to:

(1) Reapply for certification pursuant to §§205.401 and 205.405(e);

(2) Request mediation pursuant to §205.663 or, if applicable, pursuant to a State organic program; or

(3) File an appeal of the denial of certification pursuant to §205.681 or, if applicable, pursuant to a State organic program.

(e) An applicant for certification who has received a written notification of noncompliance or a written notice of denial of certification may apply for certification again at any time with any certifying agent, in accordance with §§205.401 and 205.405(e). When such applicant submits a new application to a certifying agent other than the agent who issued the notification of noncompliance or notice of denial of certification, the applicant for certification must include a copy of the notification of noncompliance or notice of denial of certification and a description of the actions taken, with supporting documentation, to correct the noncompliances noted in the notification of noncompliance.

(f) A certifying agent who receives a new application for certification, which includes a notification of noncompliance or a notice of denial of certification, must treat the application as a new application and begin a new application process pursuant to §205.402.

(g) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, if a certifying agent has reason to believe that an applicant for certification has willfully made a false statement or otherwise purposefully misrepresented the applicant's operation or its compliance with the certification requirements pursuant to this part, the certifying agent may deny certification pursuant to paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section without first issuing a notification of noncompliance.

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§205.406   Continuation of certification.

(a) To continue certification, a certified operation must annually pay the certification fees and submit the following information, as applicable, to the certifying agent:

(1) An updated organic production or handling system plan which includes:

(i) A summary statement, supported by documentation, detailing any deviations from, changes to, modifications to, or other amendments made to the previous year's organic system plan during the previous year; and

(ii) Any additions or deletions to the previous year's organic system plan, intended to be undertaken in the coming year, detailed pursuant to §205.200;

(2) Any additions to or deletions from the information required pursuant to §205.401(b);

(3) An update on the correction of minor noncompliances previously identified by the certifying agent as requiring correction for continued certification; and

(4) Other information as deemed necessary by the certifying agent to determine compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.

(b) Following the receipt of the information specified in paragraph (a) of this section, the certifying agent shall within a reasonable time arrange and conduct an on-site inspection of the certified operation pursuant to §205.403: Except, That, when it is impossible for the certifying agent to conduct the annual on-site inspection following receipt of the certified operation's annual update of information, the certifying agent may allow continuation of certification and issue an updated certificate of organic operation on the basis of the information submitted and the most recent on-site inspection conducted during the previous 12 months: Provided, That, the annual on-site inspection, required pursuant to §205.403, is conducted within the first 6 months following the certified operation's scheduled date of annual update.

(c) If the certifying agent has reason to believe, based on the on-site inspection and a review of the information specified in §205.404, that a certified operation is not complying with the requirements of the Act and the regulations in this part, the certifying agent shall provide a written notification of noncompliance to the operation in accordance with §205.662.

(d) If the certifying agent determines that the certified operation is complying with the Act and the regulations in this part and that any of the information specified on the certificate of organic operation has changed, the certifying agent must issue an updated certificate of organic operation pursuant to §205.404(b).

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§§205.407-205.499   [Reserved]

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