Canada, U.S. agree on organic “equivalency”

Canadian organic producers and processors will soon be able to market their goods in the U.S. without additional U.S. certification.

The federal government on Wednesday announced an “equivalency” agreement with the U.S., under which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has the ability to recognize certification bodies in the U.S. and ensure they comply with Canadian standards.

As well, under the agreement, Canada would also deem imports of U.S. organic products certified under their organic regime as meeting the Canadian requirements for organic products.

Both the Canada Organic Biologique logo and the USDA Organic seal may be used on certified organic products from both countries, the government said.

“We are working closely with our American neighbours to make sure we have clear, consistent regulations for our organic producers and top-quality standards for consumers,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a CFIA release Wednesday.

“This kind of co-operation keeps trade moving across the border while making sure Canadian families have clear, accurate information when they are choosing organic products.”

Canada’s new Organic Products Regulations (OPR) come into force on June 30, as does this equivalency agreement. When the OPR takes effect, products labelled as “organic,” or those bearing the organic logo, must be certified to the National Standards of Canada for Organic Agriculture by a CFIA accredited/recognized certification body.

In a separate release by the Organic Trade Association (U.S.), deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted this agreement is the first such equivalency agreement anywhere in the world for the organic industry.

“This is the first step toward global harmonization of organic standards,

and marks an historic moment for the organic community,” Merrigan told an audience Wednesday at All Things Organic, an organic conference and trade show in Chicago, sponsored by the OTA.

“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,” OTA executive director Christine Bushway said in the association’s release.

“As a result, consumers will continue to have confidence in the organic integrity and government oversight of the products they buy.”

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