Effective Jan. 27, U.S. organic dairy, beef, sheep, goat, and bison producers exporting products to Canada can benefit from more streamlined trade.

In the U.S., these animals, referred to as ruminants, must receive 30 percent of their feed during the grazing season from organic pasture and must be out on pasture at least 120 days per year.

In addition to these pasture requirements, operations must provide adequate space and living conditions which accommodate the natural behavior of livestock. This includes year-round access to the outdoors.

Canada now considers these U.S. requirements as equivalent to its standards for ruminant stocking rates, or the number of animals in a given area.

“The USDA organic regulations hold ruminant producers to strict standards,” noted Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the USDA National Organic Program.

“We are pleased that Canada agrees these requirements meet or exceed its standards.”

This change reflects efforts by both countries to harmonize standards and move toward full equivalence.

Products from non-ruminant animals, such as poultry and swine, must still verify that they meet the Canadian stocking rates for those species.

As a result, one of the additional requirements — referred to as critical variances— no longer applies to ruminant animals and animal products traded under the U.S./Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement.

Organic operations in both countries must meet each of these critical variances before products can be sold, labeled, or represented as organic across the border.

On June 17, 2009, the USDA and Canada Food Inspection Agency entered into an Equivalence Arrangement.

This means that as long as the critical variances and other terms of the arrangement are met, organic operations certified to the USDA organic or Canada Organic Regime standards may be labeled, represented, and sold as organic in both countries.

For further information about the Canada trade arrangement, contact Miles McEvoy at (202) 720-3252.