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European Union and United States sign historic agreement on Organic Produce

February 20, 2012
USDA

The Official USDA Organic Label

EU Organic

The New Official EU Organic Label

The United States and Europe agreed to an historical agreement in Nuremburg, Germany on February 15, 2012. Beginning June 1, 2012, the two trading blocs will allow for organic agricultural produce to be sold in either region using the organic label. One of the signatories, Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator, said that, “organic farmers and food producers will benefit from easier access, with less bureaucracy and less costs.” He added that the agreement would bolster “transparency on organic standards and enhances consumers’ confidence.” He was joined in signing the landmark agreement by Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary.

According to the European Commission’s website, “During the last two years both sides have thoroughly reviewed each other’s organic regulations and control programs.” They have agreed to continue collaboration on regulation in the form of an Organics Working Group, to meet one or more time per year. The only caveats to the free flow of organics are that of foods which have been produced with antibiotics, as the EU and US have differing allowances for the use of antibiotics in certain organic produce, and shellfish.

Organic trade EU US

Presentation of the EU-US organic trade agreement by EU commissioner Dacian Ciolos (left) and US Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (right) (Source: potatopro.com)

According to Bloomberg, the US and EU organic market is worth 40 billion euros a year (more than $50 billion). A recent NPR story spoke to the agreement’s interest among US organic farmers. Florida organic farmer Matt McLean was quoted as saying that differences in production standards have precluded him from exploiting the valuable European market. Additionally, NPR quoted studies from the US Department of Agriculture which predict that, “U.S. organic exports to Europe will triple within three years.”

Below are the two letters formalizing the agreement:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/files/news/letter_to_eu.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/files/news/letter_to_us.pdf

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