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U.S. ends organic recognition agreement with India

Organic producers in India have six months to gain certification with a USDA-accredited certifying agent, said the USDA on Monday in announcing the termination of an organic recognition agreement dating from 2006. “We need a more active oversight presence in India to more directly protect organic integrity,” said the Agricultural Marketing Service, which runs the National Organic Program.

“Currently, USDA does not have direct visibility or enforcement authority over many organic certifiers and operations in India that sell into the U.S. market,” said the AMS in an email to the organic agriculture community. With the end of the agreement, organic producers now working with certifiers approved by India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Authority (APEDA) will need to work with USDA-accredited certifiers to be in line with USDA organic standards. APEDA-accredited certifiers may apply for direct accreditation to the USDA organic program at any time.

The Organic Trade Association, the largest U.S. organic trade group, said it supported the USDA decision. “Integrity in organic is our highest priority and ensuring that all equivalency and recognition agreements are based on systems of comparable rigor and standards is key to maintaining that integrity,” said the group.

Under an organic recognition agreement, foreign governments accredit certifying agents, who in turn certify that organic farms and processing facilities meet U.S. organic standards for export to America.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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