US, Korea streamline trade in organic foods

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Effective July 1, 2014, organic processed products certified in the United States or Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country. This arrangement allows American organic farmers, processors and businesses greater access to Korea's growing market for organic products.

The arrangement covers organic condiments, cereal, baby food, frozen meals, milk and other processed products. Exports of organic processed products from the US are valued at approximately $35 million annually, according to US industry estimates.

"Korea is a growing, lucrative market for US organic products, and this arrangement increases demand for American organic products," said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture.

Organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have had to obtain separate certifications to meet each country's organic standards if this equivalency arrangement was not forged. This used to mean two sets of fees, inspections and paperwork, plus delays for US farmers and businesses trying to export.

This arrangement with Korea eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic businesses. This marks Korea's first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner. Prior to today's announcement, US and Korean technical experts conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their programs' regulations, quality-control measures, certification requirement and labeling practices were compatible.

Korea's National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service and the National Organic Program, part of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service — which oversee organic products in their respective countries—will both take on key oversight roles.

The United States and Korea plan to continue to have regular discussions and will review each other's programs periodically to ensure the terms of the arrangement are being met.

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