United States-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (USCOEA) – Overview
On June 17, 2009, Canada and the United States (U.S.) entered into an arrangement recognizing our national organic systems as equivalent.
1. U.S. import requirements
1.1 Canadian organic products covered under the scope of the USCOEA
The following Canadian organic products are covered under this arrangement and may bear the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal in order to be sold in the U.S.:
- Live or unprocessed agricultural products and vegetative propagating material and seeds for cultivation
- Processed agricultural products for use as food
These products may, in addition, use the Canada organic logo.
Canadian organic products exported to the U.S. under the USCOEA must be accompanied by a valid organic certificate issued by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) accredited certification body that includes the following attestation statement, "Certified in accordance with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement".
1.2 Canadian organic agricultural products outside the scope of the USCOEA
Any animal or edible product derived from any animal treated with antibiotics is prohibited from being sold, labelled or represented as organic in the U.S. market.
1.3 U.S. labelling requirements
All organic products covered by this arrangement and imported into the U.S. must comply with USDA organic labelling regulations. For more information see Organic labelling – Agricultural Marketing Service.
The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic seal can be downloaded from the National Organic Program web page. Use of the organic seal is voluntary. Its use on the label or in the advertisement of an organic product, either alone or with the Canada organic logo, is permitted provided the organic content of the product is 95% or greater.
The USDA's organic seal is trademarked. Its use is protected by federal regulation (7 CFR Part 205.311). The USDA organic seal cannot be used to imply endorsement of a commercial product or service (on a Canada Organic Regime organic product certificate, a non-USDA accredited Certification Body website etc.). You can find more information on the use of the seal – PDF (623 kb) from the United States Department of Agriculture.
2. Canada's import requirements
2.1 U.S. organic products covered under the scope of the USCOEA
In the letter from Canada to the U.S. of June 17, 2009, Canada acknowledged that agricultural products for use as vegetative propagating material, food, and feed produced, processed and certified as organic in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) are considered equivalent to the requirements of the Canadian Organic Products Regulations, 2009.
The arrangement covers the accreditation system of both regulations in its geographical entirety meaning that agricultural products certified in accordance with the terms of the US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement (USCOEA) are eligible to be sold as organic in both countries. The product being traded under this arrangement does not have to originate within either country.
As per clause 357(1) of Part 13 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), U.S. organic products imported to Canada must be accompanied by an organic certificate issued by a U.S. accredited Certifying Agent recognized under the USCOEA.
The organic certificate issued by the Certifying Agent must include the following statement: "Certified in accordance with the terms of the US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement". This statement is required to confirm that the imported organic products have been verified as meeting the terms of the USCOEA by the Certifying Agents issuing the organic certificate.
2.2 U.S. produced organic agricultural products outside the scope of the USCOEA
- Agricultural products produced with the use of sodium nitrate shall not be sold or marketed as organic in Canada
- Agricultural products produced by hydroponic or aeroponic production methods shall not be sold or marketed as organic in Canada
- Agricultural products derived from animals must be produced according to livestock stocking rates as set out in the most recent version of CAN/CGSB-32.310 and CAN/CGSB-32.310
2.3 Canada's labelling requirements
All U.S. organic products imported into Canada must meet Canadian organic labelling requirements and may bear the Canada Organic Logo. The logo must be requested from the USDA accredited certification body responsible for the certification. Use of the Canada Organic Logo is voluntary and its use, either alone or with the USDA's organic seal, is permitted provided the organic content of the product is 95% or greater. The Canada Organic Logo is available to producers through USDA accredited certifying agents. All foods imported to Canada must meet all regulatory requirements applicable to the food.
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