U.S. and Mexico Collaborate on Joint Organic Committee

Organic Compliance Committee

Washington, D.C.—On October 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced plans to start a Joint Organic Compliance Committee in an effort to support a potential organic equivalency arrangement between the U. S. and Mexico.

The arrangement, according to USDA, would allow “organic producers and handlers access to a global organic market” and enable “organic products certified in one country to be sold as organic in each participating market.” The arrangement will also reducing the cost of fees, duplicate certifications and inspections.

The Joint Compliance Committee’s main responsibilities will be to:

  • Strengthen monitoring and enforcement controls.
  • Increase transparency.
  • Promote bilateral technical exchange.
  • Build stakeholders confidence in Mexico’s organic program.
  • Engage with certifiers operating in Mexico by conducting listening sessions to determine any additional training, oversight, or policy guidance needs.

The committee will also “establish import certificates within six months to provide additional certification verification for traded products” and “implement sampling of organic products for chemical residues.” The results of each sample will be shared with the two countries regulatory authorities.

Last year, Mexico became the U.S.’s third largest agricultural export market, when the U.S. exported over $100 million of organic food products to Mexico. Mexico has also supplied the U.S. with food that meets the U.S. organic standard.

Currently, the USDA has equivalency arrangements with Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea and Switzerland.

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 10/24/2016