Canada-U.S. organic deal seen by summer

Members of a North American trade group for organic agri-food were told last week that a cross-border “organic equivalency” agreement could be reached by the time Canada’s new organic regulation takes effect this summer.

An equivalency agreement would allow for the smooth flow of certified organic goods between the two countries, supporting the continued growth of this rapidly expanding market in North America, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) said in a release Thursday.

OTA members meeting at a policy conference in Washington, D.C. last week were told by Barbara Robinson, deputy administrator of the National Organic Program for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that the two governments had agreed to sign a letter of intent to complete negotiations and finalize an agreement by this summer.

“OTA is grateful for the efforts of both governments to make such important progress toward an agreement, especially the way in which they have worked with the organic sector to understand our need for trade between Canada and the U.S. to continue,” said Christine Bushway, executive director for Massachussets-based OTA in the U.S., in a release.

“Canada is the U.S.’s most important customer when it comes to organic products, and we don’t want to see any unnecessary disruption to this relationship,” she said.

“Canadian consumers will definitely benefit from this, and will continue to enjoy quality year-round organic products from the United States,” said Matthew Holmes, the managing director for OTA in Canada, based at Sackville, N.B.

“At the same time, Canadian farmers and manufacturers will be able to certify to our organic standards without having to take on additional, redundant certifications to sell into the U.S. — so everybody wins.”

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