February 15, 2012
Today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that open trade of organic products between the United States and the European Union will begin June 1, 2012. The U.S. and the E.U. are the world’s two largest organic markets, with a combined market value of $50 billion.
The new partnership will eliminate the double fees, inspections, and paperwork that certification in both markets previously required. Deputy Secretary Merrigan predicts the new partnership will make it feasible for smaller operations to export organic goods and also expand trade of processed, multi-ingredient products.
“This partnership connects organic farmers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a wide range of new market opportunities,” said U.S Deputy Agriculture Secretary Merrigan. “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.”
Discussions about a possible equivalency between the U.S. and E.U. standards have been on-going since the early days of the National Organic Program, but the negotiations picked up steam with the Obama Administration and its emphasis on expanding exports as well as on facilitating the growth of diverse markets — such as organic — for American farmers. The agreement is similar to the equivalency agreement on organic between Canada and the U.S. that was approved in 2009.
The joint U.S.-E.U. press release is available here.