Ohio Department of Agriculture – Licensing & Hearings
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If you need help obtaining a license or defending a license through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, contact an Ohio professional licensure defense attorney from Graff & McGovern. We are here to review your situation, including your licensing requirements and alleged conduct. We will explain the upcoming administrative process and how we can best help you retain your license.
Function of the Ohio Department of Agriculture
The purpose of the Ohio Department of Agriculture is to protect the state’s plant and animal life, and to ensure a safe food chain.
It supports its purpose by regulating the following:
- Crops and other plants
- Pesticide use
- Meat production
- Dairy production
- Food safety
- Soil and water conservation
- Amusement ride safety
To ensure all regulations are upheld, the Department also licenses a variety of professionals within the agricultural industry, from auctioneers to dairy producers and livestock dealers. If you work with plants or animals that become part of the food chain, you must adhere to the Department’s regulations, including their rules regarding licensing.
Ohio Laws Enforced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture
The Ohio Department of Agriculture manages an array of professions related to plants, animals, food, and amusement parks. The agency is given power by laws established under the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and rules promulgated in the Ohio Administrative Code. These laws allow the Department of Agriculture to make rules, enforce regulations, coordinate licensing, and manage specific industries in Ohio.
OAC Chapter 901 provides information regarding the following:
- Amusement ride safety (Chapter 901:9)
- Animal health (Chapter 901:1)
- Auctioneers (Chapter 901: 8-2)
- Dairy (Chapter 901:11)
- Food safety (Chapter 901:3)
- Grain warehouses (Chapter 901:7)
- Livestock (Chapter 901:10-19)
- Meat inspection (Chapter 901:2)
- Pesticide and Fertilizer (Chapter 901:5)
- Weights and measures (Chapter 901:6)
The ORC addresses the following issues managed by the Department of Agriculture:
- Agricultural additives, lime, and fertilizer (Chapter 905)
- Agricultural commodities (Chapters 905 and 924)
- Agricultural seed (Chapter 907)
- Animal diseases (Chapter 941)
- Apiaries (Chapter 909)
- Bakeries (Chapter 911)
- Canneries (Chapter 913)
- Cold storage (Chapter 915)
- Animal feeding facilities (Chapter 903)
- Dairy products (Chapter 917)
- Dogs (Coyotes) (Chapter 955)
- Eggs (Chapter 925)
- Swine and poultry (Chapter 942)
- Horse meat (Chapter 919)
- Livestock (Chapters 901, 904, 923, 943)
- Meat inspection (Chapter 918)
- Nursery plants (Chapter 927)
- Pesticides (Chapter 921)
These laws and rules can be extremely complex. If you have questions about compliance with any of these codes, contact an experienced attorney form Graff & McGovern today.
Licensing Under the Ohio Department of Agriculture
The Agriculture Department approves various licenses, including:
- Amusement Ride Safety License for any amusement ride or device, including carnival rides, bungee jumping, fair rides, climbing walls, and inflatable rides.
- Animal Health License for livestock dealers, livestock market operators with one or more places of business, concentration yard operators with one or more places of business, or slaughtering establishment operators with one or more places of business.
- Livestock Weighers License
- Rendering Plant License
- Collector of Raw Rendering Material License
- Garbage Feeder License
- Auctioneer Program License for auctioneers; apprentice auctioneers; one-time auctions; special auctioneers; and corporate, partnership, or association auctioneers.
- Dairy License for milk dealers, haulers, processors, and products.
- Food Safety License for bakeries, home bakeries, frozen food, canning, bottling, syrups and extracts, and cold storage.
- Meat Inspection License
- Plant Health License such as fertilizer and pesticide applicators.
The licensing requirements for individual professions vary, including the licensing fees, duration of a license, and more. If you are facing accusations that you have not obtained the proper license, not kept your license up to date, or violated a Department regulation, our attorneys at Graff & McGovern are here to defend you throughout the administrative process.
Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Disciplinary Process
If you have a license granted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and are suspected of misconduct or unlawful activity, you may be notified an investigation. The Department’s Enforcement Division investigates claims of administrative or criminal conduct and will send you notice prior to initiating any disciplinary action. Once you receive notice, you will have a right to defend your license.
When a complaint is received by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, it is reviewed to determine whether an investigation is warranted. If so, it is formally assigned for investigation. If you become aware of an investigation against you, contact an Ohio professional license defense lawyer immediately. Graff & McGovern may be able to quickly clear up any misunderstandings during an investigation and ensure this issue goes no further.
If the investigation uncovers sufficient evidence of a regulatory violation, then the Ohio Department of Agriculture may:
- Send a letter of instruction
- Send a letter of reprimand
- Assess a civil penalty
- Suspend or revoke your license
- Pursue criminal charges
A letter of reprimand, civil penalty, suspension, or revocation will result in you receiving a Notice of Violation or a Notice of Opportunity of Hearing. If you have not called an attorney yet, now is the time to do so. You only have 30 days to request an administrative hearing. If you fail to request a hearing in time, then the penalty is automatically imposed. If you are a corporation facing disciplinary action, you should have an attorney.
Disciplinary Hearings with the Ohio Department of Agriculture
If you request a hearing with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, then your matter is assigned to a hearing officer who is an attorney hired by the Department to conduct hearings and provide recommendations. You may ask for an in-person hearing, during which one of our attorneys can represent you at a hearing, or you can seek a non-oral hearing, during which we submit our evidence and legal arguments in writing.
A hearing follows certain legal procedures and is conducted in front of the hearing officer. The Department presents its case first, including submitting evidence and calling witnesses. You can cross-examine the Department’s witnesses. When the Department is finished, then you have the right to present your own evidence and call additional witnesses. Having an attorney during this process is beneficial to your case. Three of our attorneys at Graff & McGovern are certified as administrative agency law specialists by the Ohio State Bar Association. We are well-versed in defending clients in licensing and disciplinary hearings.
When the hearing is over, the hearing officer issues a written report and recommendation to the Director of Agriculture. This could take weeks or months to complete. You will receive a copy of the report and recommendation in the mail. Once again, your time to respond is limited. You have 10 days to submit written objections to the Director if you do not agree with anything in the hearing officer’s report.
At any time during the administrative process, you have the right to approach the Department about a settlement and vice versa. Neither you nor the Ohio Department of Agriculture can force a settlement. However, you always have the right to negotiate a settlement. Whether you want to fight an allegation in an administrative hearing or you wish to settle the matter as quickly as possible, contact our Ohio professional license defense lawyers as soon as possible.
Appealing the Outcome of a Disciplinary Hearing
The Director of Agriculture does not have to adopt the hearing officer’s recommendation. The Director can accept, reject, or modify the report and recommendation. The Director’s final decision may be a reprimand, civil penalty, suspension, or revocation of your license. The Department may also decide to contact law enforcement officials regarding criminal charges.
Once a decision is made, you will receive a Director’s Order by certified mail. If you do not agree with the decision, you have 15 days to file an appeal in your county’s Court of Common Pleas. This appeal removes your matter from the administrative process and makes it a civil legal matter.
If you are facing the administrative hearing process or court hearing, now is the time to call a lawyer at Graff & McGovern. The legal system is not the same as the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s internal process. You will want an experienced attorney to represent you in court and fight for you to keep your license.
Contact an Experienced Agricultural License Defense Attorney Today
When your profession is regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, you must keep your license up to date with the department. Without your license, you cannot maintain your livelihood. That is why the minute you know a complaint has been filed against you, whether you have received official notice from the department or not, you should call Graff & McGovern or use our online form to schedule a consultation. We have years of experience helping professionals retain their licenses so that they can earn a living. We will fight for you throughout the process.