US and EU reach organic agreement
An agreement was reached between the two regions at Biofach 2012, the world’s largest organic fair, in Nuremberg this week to promote organic agriculture and trade.
A formal letter was signed on 15 February by EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos, US agriculture deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, US trade representative chief agricultural negotiator.
Commissioner Ciolos said: “The two biggest organic markets in the world, having a value of more than 43 billion Euro are getting closer together, offering more opportunities to organic producers and businesses. This is good news for our over 200,000 organic farmers in the European Union, it is good news for the tens of thousand of businesses in this sector.
“[Consumers] will have easier access to products coming from farming systems that rely on the sustainable use of natural resources, that respect eco-systems and the natural cycles and that come with a holistic, balanced approach to farming.”
US deputy secretary Merrigan said: “This partnership connects organic farmers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a wide range of new market opportunities. It is a win for the American economy and President Obama’s jobs strategy. 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 package, ship, and market organic products.”
The news was welcomed by the US organic industry, with the Organic Trade Association calling it “monumental”. California Certified Organic Farmers chief certification officer Jake Lewin said that eliminating the distraction of multi-standard organic certification would strengthen the application of organic standards nationwide.
In order to reach the agreement, both parties conducted on-site audits to verify the compatibility of their quality control measures and labelling practices. Previously, exporters of organic products in both regions had to get separate certifications to two standards, meaning double fees, inspections and paperwork.