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(1) The department will certify production and handling operations that submit an application to the department and comply with the requirements set forth in these rules.

(2) The department may certify contract production or handling of organic products for producers or handlers certified by the department:

(a) The contract production or handling must be described in the production or handling system plan of an operation certified by the department or applying for certification by the department;

(b) Contract producers or handlers will not be certified themselves, but will be included as part of the contracting producer or handler's certification;

(c) The department may review contracts for production or handling to assure that the certified operation or the operation applying for certification has sufficient control over the contracted production or handling to effect change in cases of noncompliance; and

(d) Any notices of noncompliance, denial of certification, or suspension or revocation of certification involving contract production or handling will be issued to the certified operation or operation applying for certification. No separate proceeding will occur with the contractor.

(3) Each production or handling operation required by 7 CFR 205.100 to be certified, except for those exempt or excluded by 7 CFR 205.101, must apply for certification and must be certified by the department or another accredited certifier:

(a) An operation that meets the definition of "production operation" must be certified as a producer; and

(b) A certified producer who changes crops, wild crops, and/or livestock of their own production into a new distinct product by physically, chemically, or otherwise changing the original product, must also certify as a handler.

(i) However, a certified producer may clean, wash, grade, dry, package, transport, or do similar preparation of their own production without handler certification; and

(ii) All such activities by certified producers must be fully described in their Organic System Plan (OSP). The department may require additional information or documentation from certified producers regarding their contracted handling activities.

(c) An operation that meets the definition of "handling operation" must be certified as a handler.

(4) Once granted, certification continues in effect until surrendered by the certified operation or suspended or revoked by the department. However, to continue certification, certified operations must annually submit an application, pay certification fees, allow an on site inspection, and submit information in compliance with 7 CFR 205.406.

(5) Applications must be submitted on forms approved by the department and must be completed, signed, and accompanied by the appropriate fees in order to be considered. Application forms can be found on the department’s web site and will be accepted electronically. Forms are also available on request from the department.

(6) First time applicants must include a complete OSP with their application. Certified operations may use a renewal form to update their OSP annually for up to three years, but must submit a new complete OSP at least every four years and may be required by the department to submit a new complete OSP whenever there are significant changes to the operation.

(7) Applications for certification may include labels for all crop, livestock and handling inputs, and processing aids and evidence that each input and processing aid contains only allowed substances. Such evidence may consist of lists of ingredients, statements from manufacturers, or verification of recognized third party review.

(8) Applications for certification must include, as part of their OSP, a list of all organic products produced and/or handled, including sample labels and complete product profiles for each distinctly labeled organic product:

(a) Certified operations must not use an organic label or make organic claims for any product not included in their OSP;

(b) Certified operations may add new products by submitting an addendum to their OSP, including sample labels and complete product profiles where applicable;

(c) Product profiles must be submitted on forms approved by the department and must include a complete list of ingredients in the product and processing aids used in manufacturing the product; and

(d) Information provided to the department on product profiles and sample labels will only be used to evaluate an applicant's compliance with organic program rules. Such information will be treated as confidential.

(9) Applications to continue producer certification are due no later than March 15 annually.

(10) Applications to continue handler certification are due no later than September 15 annually.

(11) Certified operations that do not apply to continue certification or do not comply annually with 7 CFR 205.406 may have their certification suspended. An operation that has its certification suspended may reapply, but would not qualify for the new applicant discount.

(12) An application for certification may be withdrawn by the applicant at any time:

(a) to withdraw an application for certification, applicants must submit a written request to withdraw, including the applicant's name, address, and signature; and

(b) upon receipt of a request to withdraw an application for certification, the department will suspend all actions related to the application and bill the applicant for all fees due for services rendered up to the time of the department's receipt of the withdrawal request.

History: 80-11-601, MCA; IMP, 80-11-601, MCA; NEW, 2003 MAR p. 2848, Eff. 12/25/03; AMD, 2012 MAR p. 496, Eff. 3/9/12; AMD, 2015 MAR p. 1041, Eff. 7/31/15.

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