WASHINGTON, July 9, 2015 – Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the United States and Switzerland formed a partnership that will recognize the two countries' organic programs as equivalent for organic products and streamline access to each other's markets. The organic equivalency arrangement between the two nations will streamline organic trade, strengthen organic agriculture, benefit the growing organic community, and support jobs and businesses on a global scale.
"This partnership reflects the strength of the USDA organic standards, allowing American stakeholders to access the Swiss organic market," said Anne Alonzo, Administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the National Organic Program. "The trade arrangements that we've achieved are a significant indicator of the strength of the National Organic Program and the value of the USDA organic label."
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has helped farmers and businesses create an industry that today encompasses over 19,000 organic businesses in the United States and accounts for $39 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the United State 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 share for U.S. organic farmers and businesses.
Representatives from the U.S. organic industry – including trade associations and organic producers – praised the U.S.-Switzerland partnership.
"This new arrangement has been three years in the making, and we thank and congratulate the officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their successful collaborative efforts. Swiss consumers put a high value on food quality and nutrition, and they've made organic a part of their daily diets. Now they will enjoy greater access to the high-quality organic products from the U.S."
- Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO, Organic Trade Association
"Our company applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their hard work in achieving the final step in opening the big European market to the U.S. organic industry. We have been selling organic products to Switzerland for years, and the paperwork for import has always been difficult. The new arrangement will help us grow our market and provide healthy and sustainable food to our customers."
- Rusty Brown, President, Fine Dried Foods International
"All of us at Amy's Kitchen welcome this news. We are encouraged that the larger shared values and practices relative to organic and sustainable food production between us are no longer overshadowed by minor, technical differences. Amy's is excited to pursue new market opportunities for our organic products in Switzerland made possible by this arrangement."
- Paul Schiefer, Director of International Operations, Amy's Kitchen
"The Swiss are among the most dedicated organic food buyers in the world with some of the toughest quality standards in the world. The U.S./Switzerland organic equivalency arrangement helps open the door to more USA export business. More importantly, it recognizes the high and disciplined quality standards of both countries. I thank the negotiators."
- Lynn Clarkson, President, Clarkson Grain
"This important equivalency arrangement, coupled with the historic U.S./EU equivalence arrangement, facilitates access to much of continental Europe's strong organic marketplaces. This arrangement will eliminate burdens for U.S. certified producers and manufactures, creating jobs and opportunity for the U.S. organic food and farming sector. It will provide benefits to both countries to help alleviate supply constrains in organic markets."
- Melody Meyer, Vice President Policy & Industry Relations, United NFI
"The arrangement opens Switzerland for U.S. organic farmers, ranchers and food makers. Equally important, coupled with the historic U.S./EU organic equivalency arrangement, it creates streamlined access to continental Europe's strong organic marketplaces, and promotes mutually beneficial flows of organic ingredients between Switzerland, Europe and the U.S."
- Robert Anderson, Principal, Sustainable Strategies LLC, Senior Trade Advisor, Organic Trade Association
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