The U.S. and Switzerland announced today that beginning July 10, 2015, organic products certified in the U.S. or Switzerland may be sold as organic in either country. The organic equivalency arrangement between the two nations will streamline organic trade, strengthen organic agriculture and support jobs and businesses on a global scale.
"The U.S. organic industry has made significant progress under this Administration," said U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. "This is another chapter in the success story of organic agriculture, providing new economic opportunities for American producers, choices for consumers, and jobs in rural communities across the country."
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has helped farmers and businesses create an industry that today encompasses over 19,000 organic businesses in the U.S. and accounts for $39 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the U.S. has signed five organic equivalency arrangements. Through our arrangements with Canada, the European Union, Japan, and Korea, U.S. organic farmers and businesses have streamlined access to over $35 billion international organic markets. When combined with the $39 billion U.S. organic market, these arrangements have doubled the organic market access for U.S. organic farmers and businesses.
"This arrangement is an important step in strengthening our economic relationship with Switzerland, in one of the fastest-growing segments of the agriculture economy. The opportunities provided by the arrangement will build on this trend and yield important benefits for producers and consumers alike," said U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Darci Vetter.
Leading up to today's announcement, technical experts from the U.S. and Switzerland conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements and labeling practices were compatible. The U.S. and Switzerland will review each other's programs periodically to verify that the terms of the arrangement are being met.
"This new partnership reflects the integrity of the National Organic Program and USDA's rigorous organic standards," said Anne Alonzo, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator, which oversees the National Organic Program. "We look forward to providing Swiss consumers with more U.S. organic products and being able to enjoy organic Swiss products."
Formal letters establishing the arrangement were signed on July 9, 2015, at the Agriculture Department in Washington, DC, by Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor, Switzerland; Krysta Harden, Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); and Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).