ganic standards are quite similar. It’s the nuances or variances that we try to work
Canada: Equivalency in Action
out in [trade] negotiations.”
One of the primary roles of the USDA is to enhance market potential for U.S.
producers and processors by facilitating agricultural trade with other nations. The
NOP plays an important role in establishing agreements with foreign countries.
Equivalency arrangements specifically allow products produced and certified ac-
cording to one country’s organic standards to be sold as organic in the partnering
country, provided specific requirements are met. Such an agreement breaks down
barriers and eliminates added costs for organic producers or processors who no
longer have to be certified to multiple
In 2009, the USDA negotiated the
first international determination of
equivalence with Canada. As a result,
producers and processors that are certified to the USDA Organic regulations by
an NOP-accredited certifying agent do
not have to become separately certified
to the Canadian regulations for products
to be represented as organic in Canada.
Likewise, Canadian organic products
certified to their national standards may
be sold or labeled in the United States as
Canada is by far the largest market for
U.S. organic products, with U.S. exports
estimated at $1.4 billion in 2010 out of
total organic exports of $1.8 billion. The Foreign Agricultural Service office in Ottawa estimates that nearly 70 percent of Canada’s organic consumption originates
from imports, and 90 percent of those imports come from the U.S.
Organic produce and processed foods make up the majority of U.S. organic
products shipped to Canada. In fact, as last reported by the USDA’s Foreign Agri-
cultural Service, between January and
August 2011, Canada was the dominant
export market for organic products at
$167.4 million (this accounts for organic
products that can now be tracked as a
result of Harmonized Tariff Schedule
codes, which went into effect January 1,
2011). Total organic exports from the
United States during the same period
were valued at $259.1 million: top-val-
ued products included lettuce at $59
million, cherries at $30.5 million and ap-
ples at $24.1 million.
As the first of its kind, the equivalency arrangement with Canada poses
obvious benefits for trade activity with
one of the United States’ largest trading
partners. To help implement the agree-
Amid the intricacies of the global
organic market and NOP’s ongoing
measures to ensure integrity, opportunities for international market access
are greater than ever. However, with
multiple organic certification systems
operating simultaneously, those who
want to expand the market for their
organic products must become familiar with multiple countries’ standards.
To streamline international trade, the
NOP has worked to harmonize some
of these various standards through
According to Ruihong Guo, former
director of NOP’s Accreditation and
International Activities division, “The
truth is that different countries’ or-
Understanding NOP’s International Agreements
USDA facilitates agricultural trade with other nations to enhance market scope
and potential for U.S. producers and processors. Organic agriculture poses no exception, and the NOP plays an important role in establishing agreements with foreign
countries to provide increased market opportunities for U.S. organic agriculture.
The nature of NOP’s international partnerships falls under one of three categories:
• Recognition agreement: Allows a foreign government to accredit certifying
agents in its country. These accredited agents can then certify organic products in
that country to the NOP standards. The NOPhasthese agreements with Denmark,
Israel, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
• Equivalency arrangement: Allows products produced and certified according to
one country’s organic standards to be sold as organic in the partnering country,
provided specific requirements are met. The NOP hasthisarrangement with
Canada. The arrangement includes some critical variances.
• Export agreement: Allows U.S. organic products to be sold as organic in a partnering country, provided specific requirements are met. The NOPhasthisagree-ment with Japan and Taiwan.
For more information, go to www.ams.usda.gov/NOPInternationalAgreements.
Canada is by far the largest
market for U.S. organic products,
with U.S. exports estimated at
$1.4 billion in 2010 out of total
exports of $1.8 billion.
A few of the many products that have
had great success in Canada.