'Sound and Sensible' Organic Certification + Archived Penalty Matrix
Organic certification ensures the integrity of organic products around the world. The National Organic Program (NOP) has initiated a new program to reduce paperwork and other burdensome aspects of organic certification while maintaining high standards, ensuring compliance, and protecting organic integrity. This 'Sound and Sensible' initiative involves identifying and removing barriers to certification, streamlining the certification process, focusing enforcement on egregious violations, and correcting small issues before they become larger ones.
Organic certification ensures the integrity of organic products around the world.
National Organic Program (NOP) has initiated a new program to reduce
paperwork and other burdensome aspects of organic certification while
maintaining high standards, ensuring compliance, and protecting organic
'Sound and Sensible' initiative involves identifying and removing
barriers to certification, streamlining the certification process,
focusing enforcement on egregious violations, and correcting small
issues before they become larger ones.
|'Sound and Sensible' Organic Certification
Overall Goal:Organic certification that is accessible, attainable, and affordable.
Five Principles of Sound and Sensible
- Efficient Processes: Eliminate bureaucratic processes that do not contribute to organic integrity.
- Streamlined Recordkeeping:
Ensure that required records support organic integrity and are not a
barrier for farms and businesses to maintain organic compliance.
- Practical Plans: Support simple Organic System Plans that clearly capture organic practices.
- Fair, Focused Enforcement:
Focus enforcement on willful, egregious violators; handle minor
violations in a way that leads to compliance; and publicize how
enforcement protects the organic market.
- Integrity First:
Focus on factors that impact organic integrity the most, building
consumer confidence that organic products meet defined standards from
farm to market.
|Penalty Matrix Under Construction
In September 2012, the
NOP published a penalty matrix to promote consistent application of the
USDA organic regulations. Certifying agents and others have pointed out
that the matrix focuses on paperwork violations rather than practice
In the spirit of 'Sound
and Sensible,' we have archived the September 2012 version while we
incorporate this feedback. The archived documents are still available
online and will likely be updated later this year.
NOP 2612:Recommended Penalties for Violations of Specific Regulatory Requirements
NOP 2612-1: Penalty Matrix by Violation Category
|Current Sound and Sensible Projects
The NOP has a number of
projects underway to introduce Sound and Sensible principles across
organic accreditation and certification processes. Here are some
New Technical Assistance Instruction
certifiers and inspectors worry about being perceived as "consulting"
if they try to help their clients come into compliance. This
instruction, which will be released this spring, will outline what
certifiers and inspectors can and can't do to assist organic operations.
Updated Certification Instructions
are updating our Instructions related to the "5 Steps to
Certification," recordkeeping, certificates, and other topics to reflect
sound and sensible principles based on certifier feedback and
accreditation audit results. These will be released as they are
NOP is holding a series of "recalibration" training sessions with NOP
accreditation auditors at the end of April. This training will teach our
auditors to audit using sound and sensible principles and help increase
consistency across our audit team.
"Removing Barriers" Project
NOP is currently working on a project focused on identifying the key
barriers to organic certification encountered by small businesses, and
determining paths forward for removing these barriers. This project has
included a number of interviews with certifiers, feedback from the
Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA), and discussions with many
others in the organic community.
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