Canada Organic Standards Border Enforcement Implemented July 1

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Date Published: 
July 25, 2011

Full implementation of the U.S.-Canada Organic Regime (COR) organic export agreement came into effect on July 1, 2011. This means full enforcement of the rules regarding export of U.S. certified organic crops and products that are sent, either directly or indirectly, to Canada. Prior to this date, the Canadian Organic Office allowed a "stream of commerce" policy while the industry readied itself for full compliance with the requirements. The time for full compliance is here!

What does this mean for you? As of July 1, Canadian border officials verify that the statement "Certified in compliance with the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement" is included on accompanying documents or packaging for ALL shipments of organic products exported to Canada from the United States. Products that do not have accompanying documentation with this statement may be refused entry into Canada.

If you have enrolled in the CCOF Global Market Access program and been reviewed to the terms of the U.S.-Canada equivalency agreement, this statement will appear on your Global Market Access certificate. To ensure smooth export of your product, you will want to provide your Global Market Access certificate with shipment documentation, or add the required statement to bills of lading, invoices, or customs declaration documents.

Verification of NOP/COR Equivalence - Sodium Nitrate Risk Assessment
Under the terms of the U.S.-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement, products grown using hydroponic or aeroponic production methods are not allowed to be sold as organic in Canada. This also applies to products grown using sodium nitrate (also known as Chilean nitrate). For U.S. operations wishing to ship organic product to Canada, CCOF will review the production practices and provide verification of adherence to these requirements so you can demonstrate compliance to buyers and others downstream.

CCOF researched the use of sodium nitrate, as well as hydroponic and aeroponic growing systems, and found that there are many crops (such as rice, coffee, or grapes) that have little risk of being prohibited due to use of these production practices. To ensure the U.S./COR verification process is as simple and efficient as possible, CCOF created a list of crops that are at risk of being grown using one of the prohibited production techniques (see below). For any of the crops listed below on the "high risk" chart, CCOF will verify that they were grown without the use of sodium nitrate and/or hydroponic or aeroponic production before we will issue a COR equivalency verification document. For crops that CCOF has identified as "no risk" CCOF will not seek additional documentation that they comply with the terms of the U.S.-Canada arrangement.*

CCOF has identified the following crops as at risk of being grown using sodium nitrate, and will require verification prior to verifying equivalency with Canadian requirements:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cole crops: including kale, collards, etc.
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Greenhouse crops, including tomatoes
  • Leafy greens
  • Livestock feed crops produced in the Midwest**
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Winter citrus from the Southeast United States
  • Winter vegetables: including broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

Crops considered high risk for hydroponic or aeroponic production:
Greenhouse Crops: including herbs and tomatoes

*In early 2011 CCOF performed a rigorous review of all available inpsection records and discussed sodium nitrate use with experts in a variety of regions and certification agencies. CCOF will regularly review this list internally and with outside sources to ensure its ongoing accuracy and applicability.
**Relevant for cross-border sales of feed; CCOF will not verify sodium nitrate prohibition in feed used in the Western or Eastern region at this time as it is not clear if this is explicity required by the regulation.