Organic industry celebrates EU, US trade agreement
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WASHINGTON, May 10, 2012- The organic trade agreement between the United States and European Union will eliminate multiple trade barriers as well as set an example for other nations, said EU Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida today during the EU Rendezvous Event: Celebrating the EU-US Organic Food Partnership at the Capitol today.
Almeida joined Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Isi Siddiqui to make comments about the benefits of the agreement today.
Merrigan said this agreement will boost trade and jobs in both regions, noting that some estimate it could increase the demand for American organic products 300 percent. The organic sector is valued at $50 billion between the US and EU, she noted
She explained that the agreement will prevent organic growers and companies wanting to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic from having to obtain separate certifications to two standards and complete a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork.
“I am confident that this arrangement will facilitate and boost agriculture trade between the European Union and the United States - and lead to more jobs in this important sector for both America and Europe,” said Siddiqui. “If this sector is valued at $50 billion between the US and the EU, imagine how big it will be with other countries as well.”
Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) told organic producers and supporters today that they are “on the verge of a revolutionary movement.”
“If we're going to bring healthcare costs down in this country it has to start with healthy food,” Farr said, emphasizing that consumers are becoming more concerned about food in schools, markets and stores.
“I think this is the beginning of brand new movement worldwide,” he said. “What better way to start that movement than historic agreement between EU and US?”
The U.S. and European Union both determined that their organic standards programs are equivalent except for the prohibition on the use of antibiotics. For all products traded under this partnership, certifying agents must verify that antibiotics were not used for any reason. Also, all products will be shipped with an organic export certificate. All products meeting the terms of the partnership can be traded and labeled as certified organic produce, meat, cereal, or wine.
The European Commission's Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Organic Program will serve as primary oversight organizations.
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