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What is the US-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (US-COEA)?

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Question: What is the US-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (US-COEA)?
Answer:

The US-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (US-COEA) was signed on June 30, 2009. This agreement between the two countries means that organic products and operations certified either to USDA Organic standards and regulations or Canada Organic Regime may be labeled and sold as organic in either the U.S. or Canada.

The arrangement is useful for organic operations in both countries as it eliminates the need to get double certifications. For example, if you sell in both countries, the agreement means you don't need separate certification standing in Canada and the U.S. The agreement allows for a more streamlined organic certification process, and of course, lower costs for producers and certification agents.

Products Covered by the Agreement

US-COEA includes all USDA certified organic products. The products may be produced and certified in the U.S. or in other parts of the world, so long as the products are certified to official USDA organic regulations. That said, U.S. and Canada operations are not the same as products and USDA organic certifying agents are not allowed to certify Canada-based operations to U.S. organic standards.

USDA Organic Seal Use in Canada

Both the USDA Organic seal or the Canada Organic Biologique logo (pdf) can be used on organic products entering Canada. Retail products and organic labels must state the name of the U.S. or Canadian certifying agent and every product labels must be in both English and French.

Locating Updates to US-COEA

As of January 27, 2012 Canada decided to recognize USDA organic pasture regulations as equivalent to the Canadian organic stocking rates. In other words, the critical variance will no longer be applied to ruminant animals or ruminant products traded under US-COEA.

To keep up to date with these and other changes to US-COEA or simply to learn more about this organic trade agreement visit the NOP page: US-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement Q&A (pdf).

This article is current as of January 29, 2012.

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