In another historic breakthrough for the burgeoning organic sector of American agriculture, the United States and the European Union Wednesday announced a pact that will facilitate organic trade between the two regions, the two largest organic producers in the world. Under the agreement, organic products certified in the United States or Europe may be sold as certified organic in either region, beginning June 1. Before, growers and marketers wanting to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, subjecting them to a double set of fees and inspections and export paperwork.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate author of the national organic standards and labeling program, enacted in 1990, said, "This is another milestone for organic agriculture. Most of all this is a boost for smaller organic producers, so that exporting our products is all about high American quality and variety and not about paperwork. Easier access, less bureaucracy and lower costs will help our growing organic industry compete and gain market share on European shelves, creating jobs here at home."
Leahy continued, "I commend the Department of Agriculture for reaching this agreement with one of our largest trading partners. Under our national organic program, organic production has become a vital component of Vermont's agriculture and the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture. Demand for organic products is growing even faster in Europe, at 10 to 15 percent per year despite the recession. By expanding our farmers' opportunities to sell their organic products overseas, we are expanding the job opportunities and economic growth for organic agriculture in this country. This industry has come so far in the last 22 years, and reaching this new milestone will open doors to even more economic opportunities for our organic farmers and processors."