WASHINGTON – Organic products certified in the United States or European Union may now be sold as organic in either market as of June 1, the US Department of Agriculture announced June 4.

A new US-EU equivalency partnership eliminates a requirement that companies wanting to trade organic products had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, according to USDA. The old system created a double set of fees, inspections and paperwork. The partnership covers only products exported from and certified in the US or the EU. An organic import certificate must accompany all products traded under the agreement, USDA said. The certificate must show the production location, identify the certifying organization and verify that growers and handlers did not use prohibited substances and production methods. The certificates also allow traded products to be tracked, in addition to certifying that the terms of the partnership were met, the agency said.

"This partnership will open new markets for American farmers and ranchers, create more opportunities for small businesses and result in good jobs for Americans who grow, package, ship and market organic products," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "In the months ahead, USDA will continue to work hard to expand opportunities for all US products, including organics.

“Equivalency arrangements such as this are critical to growing the US organics industry — they require careful negotiation to ensure that we maintain existing US trade policies while ensuring that US agricultural products will compete on a level playing field in world markets," she added.

The US signed a similar partnership with Canada in July 2009, and additional equivalency arrangement conversations have begun with South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, according to USDA.