GREENFIELD, Mass. (Aug. 29, 2001)—The Organic Trade Association (OTA) based in Greenfield, Massachusetts, will host a visit on Friday, Aug. 31, and Saturday, Sept. 1, by Alberik Scharpe, deputy head of the agricultural unit that oversees the regulation of organic farming and organic food standards in the European Union.
Invited to the United States under the auspices of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Program, Mr. Scharpe will meet with staff and representatives of OTA Friday morning at OTA’s headquarters at 74 Fairview Street. In the afternoon, OTA representatives will accompany Mr. Scharpe on a visit to Northeast Cooperatives’ operation in Brattleboro, Vermont, and Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont. On Saturday, Sept. 1, OTA Executive Director Katherine DiMatteo will accompany Mr. Scharpe on a tour of several local organic farming operations.
"Mr. Scharpe has indicated that he wants to increase his understanding of the U.S. regulatory system concerning organic products and establish contacts with the U.S. organic industry. He also has asked to experience the U.S. organic industry from the ground up. By meeting with OTA staff and visiting a number of local organic operations, he will receive a firsthand introduction and personal connection to what organic means to the U.S. organic community," said DiMatteo, in preparing for his visit.
In addition, his visit will provide an opportunity to discuss harmonization between European Union and U.S. organic regulations to minimize constraints on imports and exports of organic products.
After leaving New England, Mr. Scharpe will visit with other contacts from the organic industry in the Midwest and California.
Mr. Scharpe is Deputy Head of Unit, Directorate General for Agriculture, European Commission. As such, he is responsible for promoting quality policy for agricultural products, including integrated farming, chocolate products, milk products, fruit juices and jams, as well as regulating organic farming. U.S. exports of organic products to Europe exceeded $200 million in 1999 and are expected to double within five years.
August 29, 2001
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