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Historic organic trade agreement will benefit Canadian producers and companies

June 22, 2009

SACKVILLE, NB (June 18, 2009) — The Organic Trade Association in Canada (OTA) responded in support of the announcement that Canada and the United States have signed an equivalency agreement allowing organic products to be traded between the two countries. The agreement will allow farmers in each country to certify to their domestic organic standards, but they will be able to sell their products as organic in both markets. This landmark, world-first organic equivalency agreement was signed by officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The signing took place in Chicago on Wednesday June 17 during the All Things Organic™ Conference & Trade Show at McCormick Place.

"This is a world-first," said Matthew Holmes, OTA in Canada′s managing director. "The Government of Canada has just secured nearly unfettered access for Canadian organic farmers and food processors to a market that is over ten times the size of our own. This is a major win for Canada′s quickly-growing organic sector, and provides our producers and processors with assurances that they are competing with a level playing field."

Canadian consumers will also win, as they will continue to be able to buy the many organic products from the U.S. they are familiar with, while knowing these products also meet Canadian organic requirements. Canada′s new Organic Products Regulations and mandatory organic standards are scheduled to come into effect on June 30, 2009. The new regulations, overseen by CFIA, will also include a new optional "Canada Organic/Biologique" logo for use on organic products in Canada.

Since the organic standards between the U.S. and Canada differ in some areas, the equivalency agreement will also include some restrictions, mostly to respect Canadian organic standards. Products coming into Canada from the U.S. will not be allowed to come into Canada if they have been grown using sodium ("Chilean") nitrate, a natural soluble nitrogen source allowed for restricted use under the National Organic Program of the U.S. Also, the U.S. will respect Canada′s prohibition on hydroponic growing of organic products, and any such products will not be allowed to be sold as organic in Canada. Finally, the U.S. will require data from organic livestock producers in the U.S. to monitor whether they meet Canadian livestock density rates under Canada′s organic standards. In return, Canada has agreed not to allow any organic dairy products to sell to the U.S. market if antibiotics were used in their production.

"I think it′s clear that Canada′s publicly-developed organic standards have been respected and adhered to by the U.S. in this agreement," said Holmes, "and the highly integrated North American market will only continue to grow as a result of this bold move by our two governments." The North American organic market saw continued growth last year, with a 17% increase in 2008 over 2007 figures. U.S. organic sales are valued at more than $24 billion per year (USD), while the Canadian market is valued at approximately $2 billion per year (CAD).

Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, with affiliated offices in Canada and the United States. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA′s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

For more information contact:
Matthew Holmes
Managing Director
Organic Trade Association in Canada
Phone: 613 482-1717
Cell: 506-260-7537

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