OTA urges USDA to begin organic trade talks with Canada

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic products, Organic food, United states

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) should begin negotiations
with Canadian officials in order to establish trade equivalency
agreements concerning the sales of organic products between the two
countries, says the OTA.

In a letter delivered this week to USDA, the Organic Trade Association said that action was necessary now in order to prevent disruption to trade when Canada's Organic Products Regulation comes into effect in December 2008. "Bilateral trade is important to both the United States and Canadian organic products market,"​ said Caren Wilcox, OTA's executive director. "Taking action now to prevent trade disruptions in December will go a long way to ensuring that shoppers in the United States and Canada continue to find the organic products they want on the shelves." ​Currently, US organic producers can sell their products in Canada without facing any restrictions, while Canadian products in compliance with US organic regulations have full access to the US market. The new Canadian Organic Products Regulation, published on December 21 2006, will require that agreements be made to ensure that the markets remain open, said OTA. In addition, according to the trade group, "the publishing of the Canadian Organic Products Regulation provides a unique opportunity for the United States and Canada to lead the world in reaching equivalency on organic standards". ​ Although Canada has had an organic standard since 1999, it has not been codified in law. Certification of organic producers and handlers, and accreditation of certifiers has been voluntary, except in Québec, which requires certification to the Québec organic standard by a certifying body accredited by the Conseil des appellations agroalimentaires du Québec (CAAQ).​ According to OTA, the Canadian organic community has wanted a mandatory regulatory system to make it possible to secure equivalency agreements with other countries. The proposed Canada Organic Regime will define accredited certifiers, procedures for inspection and certification, a Canada Organic seal, surveillance and enforcement, and maintenance of the Canada Organic Standard and Permitted Substance List. The market for organic goods in Canada and the United States is currently growing between 15 and 20 percent annually.

Related topics: Regulation

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