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THE O n Feb. 15 at BioFach 2012 in Nuremberg, Germany, officials from the United States and the European Union (EU) signed an historic arrangement between the world’s two largest markets for organic food to recognize each other’s organic standards as equivalent. Under the agreement, the EU and United States will work together to promote strong organic programs, EPORT growing and healthy organic sector, spark additional market growth, and be mutually beneficial to farmers both in the United States and European Union as well as to consumers who choose organic products,” said Christine Bushway, Executive Director and CEO of the U.S.-based Organic Trade Association (OTA), adding, “Equivalence with the EU will be an historic game changer.” As a result, certified organic products as of June 1 can move freely between the United States and EU provided they meet the terms of the arrangement. Under the agreement, the EU will recognize USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the EU Organic Program and allow products produced and certified as meeting NOP 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. Continued on Page 5 THE MEMBER NEWS MAGAZINE OF THE ORGANIC TRADE ASSOCIATION EU and U.S. sign historic organic equivalence arrangement protect organic standards, enhance cooperation, and facilitate trade in organic products. Signing the agreement were Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş. Officials noted the arrangement will expand market access for organic producers and companies by reducing duplicative requirements and certification costs on both sides while continuing to Taking part in the signing were European protect organic integrity. Commissioner Dacian Ciolos ¸, U.S. Deputy “This monumental Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, and Ambassador Isi Siddiqui of the U.S. Trade agreement will further Representative’s Office. create jobs in the already OTA closer to industry decision on organic check-off program T he Organic Trade Association (OTA) has taken another step forward in the process of exploring a research and promotion order for the organic industry. At its Jan. 12 Annual Retreat, OTA’s Board of Directors voted to pursue Phase 2 of a three-phase process toward a possible organic research and promotion order— also known as a check-off program. This OTA decision does not address whether to establish such an order, but rather whether to continue the process so that the organic industry in total can decide the merits of such a program. OTA’s Board made this decision after reviewing a feasibility assessment prepared by D.C.-based Podestra Group in collaboration with OTA’s member-based Steering Committee. Findings from the assessment showed that an organic research and promotion order is achievable, and the challenges identified in the study should not prevent its success. As a result, OTA will continue this exploration with the entire organic industry. To do so, it will hold Town Hall-style forums across the country to evaluate this opportunity to promote the organic brand and provide critical research for the continued health of the industry. The goal of such an order Continued on Page 3 Photo by Leslie Goldman (www.PlantYourDream.net) • WINTER 2012 •