The international organic market just got a little bigger.  

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced Wednesday that the organic certifying programs in the United States and Europe Union are now considered equivalent.  The new partnership between the two largest organic producers in the world means that products certified organic under one certification scheme can be sold as organic in the other without additional certification and paperwork.

Prior to the partnership, producers and companies seeking to trade their organic products both domestically and abroad had to obtain two separate certifications, one from the U.S. and one from the EU.  Each certification required its own fees, inspections, and paperwork.  By declaring the organic standards equivalent, the partnership eliminates many significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic producers.

In a press release, Deputy Secretary Merrigan noted the new partnership “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 partnership recognizes that while the certification standards are compatible, there are some differences that need to be addressed.  As a general rule, all products that meet the terms of the partnership may be traded and labeled as certified organic produce, meat, cereal, or wine.  

The major difference comes in the use of antibiotics.  Under the agreement, U.S. apples and pears produced using antibiotics (to control fire blight) may not be exported to the EU, and EU meat and milk derived from animals treated with antibiotics may not be exported to the U.S..

The terms of the partnership require the U.S. and EU to have regular discussions and to periodically review each other’s programs to ensure that the partnership agreement is being met.

The international trade implications of this partnership are huge.  The combined value of the EU and U.S. organic sectors is valued at $50 billion each year, and growing.  Officials at USDA estimate that U.S. organic exports to Europe will triple within three years.

EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos noted that the partnership “improves transparency on organic standards, and enhances consumers’ confidence and recognition of our organic food and products.  This partnership marks an important step, taking EU-U.S. agricultural trade relations to a new level of cooperation.”

  • Hortense

    With Europe’s economy swirling down the bowl Merrigan’s dreams of exporting vast quantities of overpriced organic bling are ridiculous. More likely the Chinese will use Europe as a staging area to move re-labeled Asian organic schlock into the US to feed our affluent 1% (and many less-than-affluent who would ape the superstitions of our rich and famous). More of that good Chinese food headed your way, yum, yum! Probably Prince Charles will sniff around and keep organics flowing strong in our direction. He may have some dainties to ship us!

  • always same result

    whatever ANY, and i do mean ANY guvmint may say,
    the best policy is always and only deal with food sources that you are personally acquainted with, or may be if you choose, rather than sources far far away,,,
    no different today than it has ever been,,,, and this certainly includes raw or fresh milk from ANY source that you cannot visit to see for yourself the cleanliness of the processing facilities and the health of the cows
    though i am not personally acquainted with the Amish farmer who has been selling milk illegally, i have visited many Amish farms, and use their milk only for making cheese that is cooked during processing,,, JUST LIKE THEY DO

  • The Lone Gunman

    That’s nice if you’ve got the resources available, but how about the people that either don’t or can’t afford it? Or you could be a Republican and think to yourself “I’ve got mine screw them!”.