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An equivalency agreement has been reached between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said yesterday in her keynote address at the Organic Trade Association (OTA)’s All Things Organic Conference and Trade Show in Chicago. The agreement will enable the continued smooth flow of certified organic products between the two countries and support the further growth of this rapidly expanding market in North America. It is the first such equivalency agreement worldwide for the organic industry.
The official signing by both government agencies took place yesterday afternoon at the event, during the State of the Organic Industry in North America session. The agreement takes effect June 30.
“This is the first step toward global harmonization of organic standards, and marks an historic moment for the organic community,” Merrigan told a capacity crowd at All Things Organic.
The agreement will allow certified organic products to keep moving freely across the U.S.-Canadian border as long as they use the new Canada Organic Biologique label or the USDA Organic seal.
“Consumers will benefit from equivalency, as they have access to a more affordable range of organic products, increased product diversity and a reliable supply chain,” explained Christine Bushway, executive director of Greenfield, Mass.-based OTA. “As a result, consumers will continue to have confidence in the organic integrity and government oversight of the products they buy.”
Under equivalency, producers certified to NOP regulations by a USDA-accredited certifying agent don’t have to double-certify to Canadian organic standards to meet Canadian labeling requirements when exporting to the Canadian market, and Canadian producers certified to Canadian organic standards by a CFIA-accredited certifying body will be considered equivalent to the NOP to meet the labeling requirements of the U.S. market when selling to the United States.