Historic Organic Trade Agreement Will Benefit Canadian Producers and Companies


    SACKVILLE, New Brunswick, June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Organic
Trade Association in Canada (OTA) responded in support of the announcement
that Canada and the United States have signed an equivalency agreement
allowing organic products to be traded between the two countries. The
agreement will allow farmers in each country to certify to their domestic
organic standards, but they will be able to sell their products as organic in
both markets. This landmark, world-first organic equivalency agreement was
signed by officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The signing took place in Chicago on
Wednesday, June 17 during the All Things Organic(TM) Conference & Trade Show
at McCormick Place.

    "This is a world-first," said Matthew Holmes, OTA in Canada's managing
director. "The Government of Canada has just secured nearly unfettered access
for Canadian organic farmers and food processors to a market that is over ten
times the size of our own. This is a major win for Canada's quickly-growing
organic sector, and provides our producers and processors with assurances that
they are competing with a level playing field."

    Canadian consumers will also win, as they will continue to be able to buy
the many organic products from the U.S. they are familiar with, while knowing
these products also meet Canadian organic requirements. Canada's new Organic
Products Regulations and mandatory organic standards are scheduled to come
into effect on June 30, 2009. The new regulations, overseen by CFIA, will also
include a new optional "Canada Organic/Biologique" logo for use on organic
products in Canada.

    Since the organic standards between the U.S. and Canada differ in some
areas, the equivalency agreement will also include some restrictions, mostly
to respect Canadian organic standards. Products coming into Canada from the
U.S. will not be allowed to come into Canada if they have been grown using
sodium ("Chilean") nitrate, a natural soluble nitrogen source allowed for
restricted use under the National Organic Program of the U.S. Also, the U.S.
will respect Canada's prohibition on hydroponic growing of organic products,
and any such products will not be allowed to be sold as organic in Canada.
Finally, the U.S. will require data from organic livestock producers in the
U.S. to monitor whether they meet Canadian livestock density rates under
Canada's organic standards. In return, Canada has agreed not to allow any
organic dairy products to sell to the U.S. market if antibiotics were used in
their production.

    "I think it's clear that Canada's publicly-developed organic standards
have been respected and adhered to by the U.S. in this agreement," said
Holmes, "and the highly integrated North American market will only continue to
grow as a result of this bold move by our two governments." The North American
organic market saw continued growth last year, with a 17% increase in 2008
over 2007 figures. U.S. organic sales are valued at more than $24 billion per
year (USD), while the Canadian market is valued at approximately $2 billion
per year (CAD).

    Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the
membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in
North America, with affiliated offices in Canada and the United States. Its
members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers'
associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and
others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to
benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.


For further information:

For further information: For interviews: Matthew Holmes, managing
director, Organic Trade Association in Canada, +1-613-482-1717, cell:
+1-506-260-7537, mholmes@ota.com; or for pictures of the signing: Sue
McGovern, McGovern Communications, +1-781-648-7157, sue@mcgov.com, for OTA Web
Site: http://www.ota-canada.ca

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