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US-EU-Organic-Equivalence-Arrangement

US EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement - Organic Trade Association
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US EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement

 

On Feb.15, 2012, at BioFach Germany, European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos for the European Union’s (EU) Agriculture and Rural Development and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture signed an organic equivalence arrangement between the world’s two largest markets for organic food.

Read OTA’s press release for more information on how the EU and United States will work together to promote strong organic programs, protect organic standards, enhance cooperation, and facilitate trade in organic products.

Webinar
The Organic Trade Association, in cooperation with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and the National Organic Program, hosted a webinar in February 2012 on this historic arrangement. The webinar brought industry members together with top government officials to discuss how the US-EU organic equivalence arrangement creates exciting new business opportunities.



BACKGROUND AND CLARIFICATIONS
Under the arrangement, the EU will recognize USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the EU Organic Program (under applicable EU regulations) and will allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA’s NOP standards to be marketed as “organic” in the EU. Likewise, the United States will allow European products produced and certified under EU Organic Program to be marketed as “organic” in the United States.

Conformity Assessments
Through a series of meetings and comprehensive on-site audits of both programs, both parties were able to ensure that while some of national program rules and approaches are not identical, they achieve an equivalent level of compliance and maintain the high quality standards important to the integrity of both programs.

Mutual Oversight
  • Conformity Assessments were conducted in Europe and the United States to assure both parties that there are organic management, accreditation, certification and enforcement programs in place, and that they operate in conformity with each other’s respective programs.
    • Likewise, the above mentioned systems are in place for in-transition and conversion oversight

Timelines

  • February 15 – Agreement/EU Act published following exchange of letters
    • May begin certification/verification immediately However, trade under the arrangement begins on June 1, 2012
  • June 1, 2012 – Effective date that trade may begin under the arrangement
  • June 1, 2015 - Agreement effective for three years
    • EU and United States to revisit this arrangement in three years for areas of improvement and possible elimination of the import certificate requirements

Critical Variances
In order to access each other’s markets with organic label claims, U.S. and EU organic producers and processors will be required to attest that each shipment meets the terms of the arrangement.

Additionally, producers must attest that:

(1) no antibiotics were administered to animals;
(2) the antibiotics tetracycline and streptomycin were not used to control fire blight in apples and pears.

Transaction Certificates
To facilitate trade, the two parties agreed to work together to promote electronic certification of import certificates and attestations.

  • The United States has agreed to develop certifier-issued Import Certificates that will accompany each shipment to the EU. USDA is developing guidance on the template and system requirements.

Exclusions

  • There are no provisions in the agreement covering organic aquaculture or personal care products

Future Cooperation and Collaboration
The EU and United States have agreed to exchange information on

  • Animal welfare, including living conditions,
  • Organic livestock health care concerns
  • Antibiotic-free dairy and other animal production issues
  • Monitoring conversion practices and parallel production
  • Control and approval processes in third countries.

The two parties will also:

  • Exchange information on methods to avoid contamination of organic products from genetically modified organisms
  • Work together on future activities to enhance the integrity of organic production systems.

Geographic Scope of this Agreement

  • Product grown, processed, or packaged and certified by an accredited certifying agency (ACA) operating within their respective country/region borders can be shipped directly to the EU/U.S. as certified organic product.
  • Product certified to either standard that has not been “handled” (touched down) in the United States or EU cannot be shipped directly to the EU/U.S.
  • Product not grown, processed or packaged in the EU that is destined for the United States must be certified to the USDA-NOP standard by a USDA-accredited certifier.
  • Product not grown, processed or packaged in the United States to be shipped directly to Europe must be certified to the EU standard or certified by a Certification Body recognized by the EU as an equivalent Certification Body/Foreign Certification Agent.

Mutual Accreditation

  • The EU and U.S. mutually recognize Accredited Certification Agents (ACA) and Certification Bodies (CB) as accredited certification agents.
  • Product grown, processed, or packaged in the U.S./EU can be shipped directly to the EU/U.S. as certified organic product
  • Product certified to either standard that has not been “handled” (touched down) in the United States or EU cannot be shipped directly to the EU/U.S.
  • Product not grown, processed or packaged in the EU destined for the United States must be certified to the USDA-NOP standard by a USDA-accredited certifier.
  • Product not grown, processed or packaged in the United States to be shipped directly to Europe must be certified to the EU standard or certified by a Certification Body recognized by the EU as an equivalent Certification Body/Foreign Certification Agent.

Seal Use

 USDA Logo
  • U.S. National Organic Seal
    • The use of the USDA Organic seal is voluntary


 EU Logo
  • EU Organic Logo
    • The use of the EU organic logo is:
      • Mandatory for products produced in the EU
      • Voluntary for products produced outside of the EU
        • Products that elect to display the EU logo must designate Country of Origin



Organic Labeling in the EU

General Labeling Requirements
    • Product must still meet Member State general labeling requirements, which are similar to one another but may have subtle differences, just as product going to Canada must have dual language (English and French) labeling
“Organic”
    • Applies only to products containing 95 percent and above organic ingredients
    • Aquaculture is NOT included
    • Wine labeling is not final

“100 % Organic”

  • No “100% Organic” Labeling
  • Labeled as “Organic” only

“Made w/ Organic”

  • No “Made with” Labeling
  • Organic ingredients shall be identified in the list of ingredients
  • Total percentage of organic ingredients must be declared in the list of ingredients*
  • There is a derogation for products “made with” wild fish and/or game and organic ingredients, which must be displayed on the principal display panel and in the ingredients statement.*

Wine Labeling

  • U.S. wines “made with organic grapes” produced in accordance with the U.S. restrictions on sulfites may be sold as “organic” wines in the EU
  • EU wines labeled as “organic” in the EU may be sold in the United States as wine “made with organic grapes” provided that the sulfite levels comply with the limits set by the U.S. National Organic Standards
Seal Use   

    • US National Organic Seal
      • The use of the USDA Organic seal is voluntary

    • EU Organic Logo
      • The use of the EU organic logo is:
        • Mandatory for products produced in the EU
        • Voluntary for products produced outside of the EU.
          • Products that elect to display the EU logo must designate Country of Origin


Certifier Mark

    • The EU requires that a government-assigned Certifier code number must be displayed on the label. 
      • EU will assign code numbers for NOP-Accredited Certification Agents.

    OTA Task Force
    OTA convened its U.S.-EU Equivalency Task Force in May 2010 to monitor, analyze and discuss emerging issues from organic equivalency discussions between the United States and EU, and directly advised FAS and USTR on the industry’s perspective on these negotiations and market potential. This task force is made up of 34 industry volunteers from across the supply chain, from produce and grain companies to dairy producers and certification agencies. It is led by OTA’s Executive Vice President Laura Batcha and Jake Lewin of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) as co-chairs, with Bob Anderson (Sustainable Strategies—Advisors in Food & Agriculture) serving as ex officio.

     

     
     
    2014 Annual Fund

    Research and Promotion 2012

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