Historic Trade Agreement
We learned via potatopro.com that on February 18, 2012 the European Union and the United States have agreed that organic products certified in Europe or the United States may be sold as organic in either region. This agreement will become effective on June 1, 2012.
While the labeling term 'organic' is still a little suspect to us, this announcement sounds like good news for American farmers with organic certification.
Formal letters were signed on February 15, 2012 in Nuremberg, Germany by Dacian Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary and Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative/Chief Agricultural Negotiator.
U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan remarked:
This partnership connects organic farmers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a wide range of new market opportunities. It is a win for the American economy and President Obama's jobs strategy.
But, could there be any unintended consequences contained within that statement? Does it sound too good to be actually happening?
Deputy Secretary Merrigan continued:
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 package, ship, and market organic products.
Previously, producers had to jump through multiple hoops – separate certifications from both Europe and the U.S. – which also meant double schedule of fees, inspections and all manner of forms (probably in triplicate, but that’s us surmising). This agreement eliminates substantial hurdles, most notably for small and medium-sized organic producers.
Potatopro.com goes on to say:
Although there are small differences between the U.S. and European Union organic standards, both parties individually determined that their programs were equivalent except for the prohibition on the use of antibiotics. The USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics except to control invasive bacterial infections (fire blight) in organic apple and pear orchards. The European Union organic regulations allow antibiotics only to treat infected animals. For all products traded under this partnership, certifying agents must verify that antibiotics were not used for any reason.
It seems to us there may be some doublespeak in the paragraph above. Are antibiotics allowed or not allowed? Is this just ‘trade agreement writing style’ or is there a loophole contained in this passage – these are things that make you go ‘hmmm’.
We would dearly love for this trade agreement to be true and accurate. American farmers deserve to be able to sell their products more easily, without asinine hurdles thrown up at every turn. Here’s to this being a boon to our farmers.
What do you think of this piece of news?
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