GREENFIELD, MASS. — Although at odds with each other regarding Country-of-Origin labeling, the Canadian and U.S. governments continue working together to reach an organic-equivalency agreement. The Organic Trade Association expressed support and encouragement regarding this progress on the Canadian-U.S. talks, which was announced March 25 at O.T.A.'s Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Barbara Robinson, deputy administrator at U.S. Department of .Agriculture in charge of the National Organic Program, announced during the conference the two governments had agreed to sign a letter of intent to complete the negotiations and finalize an agreement by this summer, when Canada's new organic regulation comes into effect. An equivalency agreement would allow for the smooth flow of certified organic goods between the two countries, supporting the continued growth of this rapidly expanding market in North America.

"O.T.A. is grateful for the efforts of both governments to make such important progress toward an agreement, especially the way in which they have worked with the organic sector to understand our need for trade between Canada and the U.S. to continue," said Christine Bushway, executive director of O.T.A. "Canada is the U.S.'s most important customer when it comes to organic products, and we don't want to see any unnecessary disruption to this relationship."

"Canadian consumers will definitely benefit from this, and will continue to enjoy quality year-round organic products from the United States," said Matthew Holmes, managing director, O.T.A. in Canada. "At the same time, Canadian farmers and manufacturers will be able to certify to our organic standards without having to take on additional, redundant certifications to sell into the United States — so everybody wins."

The Organic Trade Association is a membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its 1,600 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.

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