WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that organic products certified in the United States or European Union may now be sold as organic in either market, as trade opened up on Friday, June 1, under a new U.S.-EU equivalency partnership. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan signed formal letters creating the partnership in February, along with Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator.
“This partnership will open new markets for American farmers and ranchers, create more opportunities for small businesses, and result in good jobs for Americans who grow, package, ship, and market organic products,” said Merrigan. “In the months ahead, USDA will continue to work hard to expand opportunities for all U.S. products, including organics. Equivalency arrangements such as this are critical to growing the U.S. organics industry—they require careful negotiation to ensure that we maintain existing U.S. trade policies while ensuring that U.S. agricultural products will compete on a level playing field in world markets.”
The United States signed a similar partnership with Canada in July 2009, and additional equivalency arrangement conversations have begun with South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Previously, producers and companies wanting to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, which resulted in a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork. The partnership existing now eliminates these significant barriers, which is especially helpful for small and medium-sized organic farmers. During negotiations, both parties conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their programs’ regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.