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USA: Organics gain clout in export markets

Organics have moved well beyond the niche of farmers markets and health food stores to become an important sector in the U.S. economy and the next big commodity class to watch, the Organic Trade Association said. U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show organic takes sixth place for the value of production, right after wheat and cotton and directly before almonds, peanuts and rice.

As of June 1, organic products certified in the United States or European Union may now be sold as organic in either market under a new US-EU equivalency partnership.

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 grow, package, ship, and market organic products," Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in a statement.
Merrigan said equivalency arrangements are critical to growing the U.S. organics industry.

The United States signed a similar partnership with Canada in July 2009, and additional equivalency arrangement conversations have begun with South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Previously, producers and companies had to obtain separate certifications, which resulted in a double set of fees, inspections and paperwork. The partnership eliminates those barriers, which is especially helpful for small and medium-sized organic farmers, according to the USDA announcement.

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