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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) last week threw its support and encouragement behind the Canadian and U.S. governments’ negotiations to reach an organic equivalency agreement.
At OTA's Policy Conference in Washington, Barbara Robinson, deputy administrator at USDA in charge of the National Organic Program (NOP), said that the two governments had agreed to sign a letter of intent to complete the talks and finalize an agreement by this summer, when Canada's new organic regulation goes into effect.
An equivalency agreement would enable the smooth flow of certified organic goods between the two countries, supporting the continued growth of this burgeoning market in North America.
“OTA is grateful for the efforts of both governments to make such important progress toward an agreement, especially the way in which they have worked with the organic sector to understand our need for trade between Canada and the U.S. to continue,” said Christine Bushway, executive director of Greenfield, Mass.-based OTA. “Canada is the U.S.'s most important customer when it comes to organic products, and we don't want to see any unnecessary disruption to this relationship.”
"Canadian consumers will definitely benefit from this, and will continue to enjoy quality year-round organic products from the United States," noted Matthew Holmes, managing director at OTA in Canada, which is based in Sackville, New Brunswick. "At the same time, Canadian farmers and manufacturers will be able to certify to our organic standards without having to take on additional, redundant certifications to sell into the United States -- so everybody wins."
The OTA’s 1,600 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants and retailers.