The European Union and the United States have signed an agreement that will establish a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale. In what is being called a "historic signing", the two largest organic-producers in the world, have agreed that on and after June 1, 2012, organic products certified in Europe or in the United States may be sold as organic in either region.
The organic produce must meet the terms of the new arrangement. Under the agreement, the EU will recognize the USDA National Organic Program as equivalent to the EU Organic Program and allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA standards to be marketed as organic in the EU. Likewise, the United States will allow European products produced and certified under the EU Organic Program to be marketed as organic in the United States.
Formal letters creating the partnership were signed Wednesday in Nuremberg, Germany, by Dacian Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development; USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, and U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Ambassador Isi Siddiqui.
"This partnership connects organic farmers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a wide range of new market opportunities," said 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."
Previously, growers and companies wanting to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, which meant a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork. This partnership eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic producers. All products meeting the terms of the partnership can be traded and labeled as certified organic produce, meat, cereal, or wine.
The organics sector in the United States and European Union is valued at more than $50 billion combined, and rising every year.