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Feb 15, 2012

EU & USA Reach Historic New Partnership on Organic Trade

European Commissioner for Agriculture
and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, 
U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Kathleen Merrigan
signed EU-USA Organic agreement 15 February 2012
photo courtesy, EU Commission
On 15 February 2012 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development both issued press releases announcing that the United States and the European Union had signed an agreement recognizing each other's organic food standards. The ageement will go into effect on 1 June 2012. This new partnership will simplify trade between the two parties in the organic food sector by reducing export/import paperwork, certification, and inspection requirements.

All organic standards are considered equivalent except for the use of antibiotics. In the USA, antibiotics are allowed to control invasive blights (e.g. fire blight in organic apple and pear orchards). In the EU, antibiotics are prohibited with the exception of treating infected animals. All organic products traded between the USA and EU will continue to be certified that no antibiotics were used.

The historic organic trade agreement was signed in Nuremberg, Germany at the BioFach World Organic Fair, the largest trade show for organic products in the world. It was signed by European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Kathleen Merrigan, and U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator.

According to U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Merrigan, "This partnership connects organic farmers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a wide range of new market opportunities. 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."

According to European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Cioloş, "This agreement comes with a double added value. On the one hand, organic farmers and food producers will benefit from easier access, with less bureaucracy and less costs, to both the U.S. and the EU markets, strengthening the competitiveness of this sector. In addition, it improves transparency on organic standards, and enhances consumers' confidence and recognition of our organic food and products. This partnership marks an important step, taking EU-U.S. agricultural trade relations to a new level of cooperation."

As an outcome of this agreement, the EU and U.S. will in the future work on new initiatives to promote organic production. They will share technical information and best practices on an ongoing basis.

The organics sector in the United States and European Union is valued at more than $50 billion combined, and rising every year.

For more see:

"European Union and United States Agree to Historic New Partnership on Organic Trade," USDA Press Release No. 0051.12, 15 February 2012.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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