At a press event Feb. 15 at BioFach Germany, European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos for the European Union's (EU) Agriculture and Rural Development and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced the signing of an organic equivalence arrangement between the world's two largest markets for organic food.

Under the proposed arrangement, the EU and United States will work together to promote strong organic programs, protect organic standards, enhance cooperation, and facilitate trade in organic products.

(The U.S. and Canada recently reached an agreement on the import/export of organic ruminant animals. That information can be found at http://southeastfarmpress.com/livestock/us-canada-reach-organic-trade-agreement).

Officials noted the EU/U.S. organic equivalence cooperation arrangement will expand market access for organic producers and companies by reducing duplicative requirements and certification costs on both sides of the ocean while continuing to protect organic integrity.

(As organic acreage has increased in the Southeast, research efforts into the crops have been ramped up. One example can be found here).

 "This monumental agreement will further create jobs in the already growing and healthy U.S. organic sector, spark additional market growth, and be mutually beneficial to farmers both in the United States and European Union as well as to consumers who choose organic products," said Christine Bushway, Executive Director and CEO of the U.S.-based Organic Trade Association (OTA).

She added, "Equivalence with the EU will be an historic game changer."

As a result, certified organic products as of June 1 can move freely between the United States and EU borders provided they meet the terms of the new arrangement.

Under the agreement, the EU will recognize the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the EU Organic Program and allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA NOP standards to be marketed as organic in the EU. 

Likewise, the United States will allow European products produced and certified under the EU Organic Program to be marketed as organic in the United States.