OTA Urges U.S., Canada to Start Equivalency Talks

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OTA Urges U.S., Canada to Start Equivalency Talks

GREENFIELD, Mass. -- The Organic Trade Association (OTA) here said yesterday it has urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to begin negotiations with Canadian officials to establish trade equivalency agreements concerning the sales of organic products between the two countries.

OTA met with USDA officials on Aug. 28, and delivered a letter urging action on negotiations.

"Bilateral trade is important to both the United States and Canadian organic products market," said Caren Wilcox, OTA's executive director, in a statement.

To date, U.S. organic producers have enjoyed unrestricted trade into Canadian markets, while Canadian products in compliance with U.S. organic regulations have had full access to the U.S. market. However, the Canadian Organic Products Regulation, which will be fully implemented in December 2008, requires that agreements be made to ensure that the markets remain open, the OTA said.

Additionally, the publishing of the Canadian Organic Products Regulation provides a unique opportunity for the United States and Canada to lead the world in reaching equivalency on organic standards, Wilcox added.

The market for organic goods in Canada and the United States is growing between 15 and 20 percent annually.