Understanding adverse actions

When a certified organic operation fails or inadequately responds to issues discovered during the certification process, we will need to issue an adverse action.

What are the consequences of receiving an adverse action?

An adverse action can include proposing denial of certification, suspension of certification, or revocation of certification. Operations that receive an adverse action are eligible to request mediation or appeal the decision.

How do I ensure I don’t receive an adverse action?

It is in every operation’s interest to ensure compliance and to respond to requests from OTCO with a timely response. Unfortunately, a noncompliance that could be immediately cleared with a corrective action — such as submitting additional purchase records — will turn into an adverse action if it is not addressed.

What happens if I get an adverse action during the application process?

We may issue a denial of certification when an operation fails to comply with the certification’s standards. Denials may also be issued when operations do not respond to noncompliances issued or have not paid certification fees.

When would OTCO propose a suspension of certification?

We will propose suspension when evidence demonstrates a violation of the standard is not correctable, or when a corrective action is not implemented. Additionally, OTCO may propose suspension when a certified operation fails to respond to requests within a specified deadline.

What happens if I receive a proposed suspension?

Upon receipt of a proposed suspension, operations will have 30 days to either (a) appeal or (b) request mediation. If neither are received, OTCO immediately will issue a suspension that remains in effect until reinstatement is granted by the proper authorities. All sales of organic products are prohibited during the suspension.

When would OTCO propose a revocation of certification?

When OTCO determines an operation willfully violated the standards (e.g., fraud, etc.), it will immediately issue a proposed revocation of certification. All persons legally connected to the operation are ineligible to receive organic certification again for at least five years.

What happens if I receive a proposed revocation of certification?

Upon receipt of a proposed revocation, operations will have 30 days to (a) appeal or (b) request a mediation. If neither are received, revocation immediately is effective following 30 days. All sales of organic products are prohibited until the official reinstatement of certification after at least five years.

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