USDA published a new instruction on February 12th NOP 4009 and Q&A about who needs to be certified (attached with USDA training on the same subject). They consider that accredited certifying agent including Ecocert were inconsistently interpreting and applying the regulation and request that uncertified operation stop producing or processing organic products on behalf of a certified operation. This means that umbrella certification including sub-contractors is clearly not possible anymore for NOP and that all legal entities should be individually contracted, implement their own OSP, have their own inspection, adverse actions and certificate. Only exempted or excluded operation (§205.101), group certification and leasing of land, facilities or service can continue to deal with organic products without being directly certified.
It appears clearly that this new instruction from USDA has a big impact; we tried to make them change their position through ACA and EOCC but without any effect; USDA did not even agree to grant a transition period to come into compliance. Consequently, we have to do our best to comply or have a strong transition plan to comply in best delays ( Ecocert SA NOP mid-term audit is planned in September 2014).