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US, Canada Reach "Equivalency Agreement" on Organic Certification

Posted: June 24, 2009

The United States and Canada have entered into an "equivalency agreement," meaning that producers and processors that are certified to the National Organic Program do not have to become certified to the Canada Organic Product Regulation standards to be recognized as organic. Conversely, Canadian organic products certified to new nationwide standards will be recognized as organic certified in the United States. Both the USDA Organic seal and the Canada Organic Biologique logo may be used on certified products from both countries.

Of the announcement, US Agriculture deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, "The production of organic foods is a vibrant growth opportunity for American agriculture, and by agreeing on a common set of organic principles with Canada, we are expanding market opportunities for our producers to sell their products abroad. Today's agreement between the world's two largest organic trading partners is an important first step towards global harmonization of organic standards."

The move is significant as Canada is estimated to be the United States' largest export market for organic products. In fact, more than 80% of Canada's organic consumption is derived from imports, about 75% of which comes from the United States, according to the US Foreign Agricultural Service office in Ottawa. Processed foods and organic produce make up the majority of the organic market, which totals as much as $2.6 billion. The organic market in the United States is estimated at about $24.6 billion.

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