When an auditor raises a non-compliance during an audit, what do I need to do?
Non-compliances (also known as non-conformance) are never convenient by any stretch of the mind, but as long as you approach them correctly and provide sufficient reasoning and resolution procedures then it will make the process a whole lot easier.
Our auditors raise non-compliances for several reasons, and it is ultimately an indication that you may be failing to conform to the accepted standards specific to why it was raised in the first place. Below we will give you an scenario example of a type of non-compliance we could raise, and point out the correct follow-up actions to overcome the problem.
Scenario: During an audit, the auditor gives you a non-conformance for not updating and informing BioGro of the current inputs you are using on your operation
Inputs are an important part of your Organic Management Plan, and this plan is what you are certified to do in or on your operation. If an input has been applied to your property without prior approval, this is sitting outside of your plan and is therefore a non-compliance to the standard.
It's important that for any non-conformance that is issued, you must;
1. Supply a reason for why it happened (e.g. You forgot your password for your online log-in, and were unable to go in and update to your input approvals)
2. How you have overcome the issue raised (e.g. You got in contact with the BioGro office and resolved your password issue, allowing you to log-in and submit to the input approvals)
3. How to avoid this happening again in future (e.g. Ensure all inputs are uploaded and approved before using)
Although we have generalised this information to all non-compliances, we have used the input approvals example for a specific reason. With the equivalency agreements New Zealand hold with other countries, MPI and in turn BioGro get audited annually to ensure we are conforming to their standards. Quite recently the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA NOP) carried out an audit, and raised the issue that licensees are failing to carry out the 3 steps to overcome a non-compliance as stated above.
We hope this guide is useful in all non-compliance situations, yet please be mindful that it is important that you pre-approve inputs before using on your property - this in turn could avoid some serious consequences.