#Understanding adverse actions
OTCO will issue an adverse action when an operation fails or inadequately responds to issues discovered during the certification process (e.g., inspection, annual review, application, etc.). 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.
It is in every operation’s interest to ensure compliance and to respond to requests from OTCO. Unfortunately, a noncompliance that may be immediately cleared with a corrective action and timely response (e.g., additional documentation for seeds used, etc.) will turn into an adverse action if it is not addressed.
Applies to new applicants not yet certified. OTCO may issue a denial when an operation fails to comply with the requested standards (e.g., clear evidence that farmland is not eligible, failure to respond to noncompliances issued post-inspection, etc.). Denials may also be issued when operations do not respond to noncompliances issued, or have not paid certification fees.
Applies to currently certified operations. OTCO will propose suspension when evidence demonstrates a violation of the standard is not correctable. A proposed suspension may be issued when corrective action is not implemented. Additionally, OTCO may also propose suspension when a certified operation fails to respond to requests within a specified deadline.
Operations will have 30 days after receipt of a proposed suspension 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.
Applies to currently certified operations. When OTCO determines an operation willfully violated the standards (e.g., fraud, etc.), it will 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.
Operations will have 30 days after receiving a proposed revocation 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 official reinstatement of certification after at least five years.
For more on noncompliance responses, please be sure to check out our webinar on how to Effectively Respond to a Noncompliance.