ACA Working Groups – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of ACA Working Groups?
The purpose of the ACA Working Group is to bring together the the knowledgeable body of certification professionals to articulate Best Practices or other communications relevant to organic certification.

What are ACA Best Practice Documents?
ACA Best Practice documents provide recommendations for consistent implementation of the organic regulations. They are not binding for ACA members; however, they offer a framework for consistent interpretation. Adherence to ACA Best Practices is encouraged for all ACA members and accredited certifiers.

What is the authority of the Working Group?
Depending on the topic, and on the size and representation in the Working Group, the group or ACA Board might make the decision to approve final documents. While Working Group documents are not legally binding, they represent the certification community’s best thinking on a topic. The ACA Code of Conduct states that member organizations with consider implementation of all ACA Best Practices.

How does a Working Group come to be?
Anyone can recommend a Working Group. Suggestions are evaluated by the ACA Board each spring and as needs arise. A Working Group cannot be formed unless at least 7 ACAs are willing to contribute. You can use this form to recommend a Working Group.

What is the time commitment for Working Group participation?
Working Group time frames an vary from a few weeks to several months, or can exist on an ongoing basis, depending on the task at hand. Before the Working Group begins, potential participants will be advised of expected time commitments. It is common for meetings to last an hour and to occur every other week.

Who can participate?
All staff at certifier member organization are eligible to participate. Non-expert participants are expected to connect with policy leads at their organization as needed. Supporting members may be allowed to participate in some cases. Non-members are typically not allowed to join working groups but may be invited to serve in an advisory role if appropriate.

Is Working Group participation made public? What is considered confidential?
Names of member organizations and individuals contributing to Working Group efforts are not considered confidential. However, conversation details and working drafts should not be shared outside the Working Group without authorization. Finalized working group products are made public.

How are Working Group products kept up to date?
ACA Best Practices are reviewed periodically (at least once every five years) to ensure they are accurate and up to date. Concerns with any ACA Best Practice or guidance document should be submitted to the ACA Executive Director.