Historic Signing Finalizes Equivalency Agreement Between U.S. and Canada

    CHICAGO, June 17 /CNW/ -- USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, today
in her keynote address at the Organic Trade Association (OTA)'s All Things
Organic(TM) Conference and Trade Show, announced that an equivalency agreement
has been reached between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). This historic equivalency agreement
will allow the continued smooth flow of certified organic products between the
two countries and support the continued growth of this rapidly expanding
market in North America. It is the first such equivalency agreement worldwide
for the organic industry.

    The official signing will take place at Organic Trade Association (OTA)'s
All Things Organic(TM) Conference and Trade Show at Lakeview Center, McCormick
Place this afternoon during the State of the Organic Industry in North America
session. The agreement, signed by the two government agencies, takes effect on
June 30.

    "This is the first step toward global harmonization of organic standards,
and marks an historic moment for the organic community," Merrigan told a
standing-room-only audience at All Things Organic(TM).

    As a result of the historic equivalency agreement, certified organic
products as of July 1 can continue to move freely across the U.S. and Canadian
border provided they use the new Canada Organic Biologique label or the USDA
Organic seal.

    "Consumers will benefit from equivalency, as they have access to a more
affordable range of organic products, increased product diversity, and a
reliable supply chain. As a result, consumers will continue to have confidence
in the organic integrity and government oversight of the products they buy,"
said Christine Bushway, OTA's Executive Director.

    Under equivalency, producers certified to NOP regulations by a USDA
accredited certifying agent do not have to double-certify to the Canadian
organic standards in order to meet Canadian labeling requirements when
exporting to the Canadian market. Similarly, Canadian producers certified to
Canadian organic standards by a CFIA accredited certifying body will be deemed
equivalent to the NOP to meet the labeling requirements of the U.S. market
when selling to the U.S.

    Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the
membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in
North America. 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: Sue McGovern, McGovern Communications, for
Organic Trade Association, +1-781-648-7157, sue@mcgov.com

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