Posted October 1, 2013
The United States and Japan have announced that beginning January 1, 2014, organic products certified in Japan or in the US may be sold as organic in either country, according to a USDA News Release, available here.
Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack said, “This partnership reflects the strength of the USDA organic standards, allowing American organic farmers, ranchers, and businesses to access Asia’s largest organic market…It is a win for the American economy and sets the foundation for additional organic agricultural trade agreements in Asia. This partnership provides economic opportunities for farmers and small businesses, resulting in good jobs for Americans across the organic supply chain.”
The organic sector in the US and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined, and rising every year.
Prior to this equivalency arrangement, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell products in either country had to “obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards,” typically meaning “two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork.” In preparation for the agreement, US and Japanese technical experts conducted on-site audits, ensuring that the programs’ regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.
According to a Farm Futures article, available here, Christine Bushway, Executive Director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association said, “This monumental agreement will further create jobs in the already growing U.S. organic sector, spark additional market growth, and be mutually beneficial to producers both in the United States and Japan and to consumers who choose organic products.”
Cathy Calfo, Executive Director of the California Certified Organic Farmers said, “This agreement is vital to specialty crop growers, who number more than 2,000 in California alone. These producers will be able to expand sales in a vibrant Japanese market, inspiring growth in a sector that is already creating jobs and economic opportunity.”