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Huge Changes to EU Equivalency and CCOF International Programs

by Jon Knapp |

CCOF EU Standards and GMA Program Webinar: April 19, 2012. Learn about the new agreement, market opportunities, how to save time and money within the GMA program, and the EU market in this helpful webinar.

In February, after two years of negotiations, the USDA and the European Commission announced a U.S.-EU Organic Equivalency Agreement, which will be effective June 1, 2012. This agreement harmonizes organic standards between the two largest markets for organic products in the world. The only areas not in full equivalency are apples and pears produced in the U.S. using antibiotics (Streptomycin and Tetracycline), and livestock in the EU raised using antibiotics.

After June 1, organic products certified in either the U.S. or EU can be sold in either market without additional certification. Product packaging may include the USDA seal, certifier logo, and/or EU organic seal. We believe that this equivalency agreement will open up the EU organic marketplace to CCOF certified processed goods and ingredients in new and exciting ways.

As a member of the Organic Trade Association’s U.S.-EU Equivalency Task Force, CCOF worked closely with the NOP, governmental trade representatives, and the EU Commission to help bring equivalency to the organic community. CCOF effectively used your GMA fees to help eliminate the requirement for additional certification to this standard.

Reduction of Cost, Paperwork, and Inspection Time: For many CCOF clients the U.S.-EU Organic Equivalency Agreement will reduce time, effort, and expense during the organic inspection. Inspections used to include additional questions in order to verify compliance to EU standards as part of the CCOF’s Global Market Access (GMA) program. We updated our GMA program to eliminate these additional requirements and inspectors have stopped requesting the additional information previously required for EU approval. Instead, the issues that require verification for exported products can be reviewed during a desk audit by CCOF office staff, eliminating unnecessary time and effort at the inspection.

New GMA Export Verification Program Eliminates Need for Previous GMA Enrollment for Many CCOF Clients: CCOF has modified our GMA program for U.S. clients to include verification of only the additional requirements that still exist under the USDA equivalency agreements with the EU, Canada, Taiwan, and Japan. As part of the GMA program, we will continue to help you ensure that your retail labels meet the requirements of the importing country, and provide you with additional verification documents when required by the export market or your buyers.

Together, the U.S.-EU equivalency, and CCOF’s streamlined approach to Canadian equivalency verification, will mean that fewer CCOF clients need to be enrolled in our GMA program or pay an additional fee for international verification. If it is no longer necessary for your operation to be enrolled, we will encourage you to withdraw before January 1, 2013, to avoid being billed. We will be communicating with you this year to verify whether enrollment in our GMA program is still a requirement for you.

You need the CCOF GMA program if you:

  • Export CCOF certified organic products to the EU, Japan, or Taiwan from the U.S.
  • Export CCOF certified organic products to Canada from any location
  • Grow any crop exported to Japan by someone else
  • Grow apples or pears that are exported, or used in products that are exported to the EU
  • Make products containing apple or pear ingredients that are exported to the EU
  • Grow crops that that appear on CCOF’s list of high risk crops (see our Canada page) that are exported to Canada or used in products that are exported in Canada
  • Make products containing ingredients that come from crops that are on CCOF’s list of high risk crops
  • Sell CCOF certified organic products to any buyer who requires international verification certification

When you enroll in the GMA program, CCOF will review your labels and use of restricted materials (antibiotics for EU, alkali extracted humic acids and lignin sulfonate for Japan, use of sodium nitrate and hydroponic/aeroponic production methods for Canada). CCOF will provide the attestation statement required by Canada on the certificate.

You need to enroll in the CCOF International Standard program if you:

  • Export to Switzerland from any location
  • Are located outside the United States and are exporting to the EU

You do not need any CCOF international programs if you:

  • Grow crops, other than apples and pears, which are exported by someone else to the EU
  • Grow crops, other than apples and pears, which are used as ingredients in products exported by someone else to the EU
  • Grow crops that are not on the CCOF list of high risk crops and are exported to Canada
  • Grow crops that are not on the CCOF list of high risk crops and are used as ingredients in products exported by someone else to Canada

European Export Documents: After June 1, 2012, CCOF will be able to provide export documents for all NOP certified products grown, processed, or packaged in the U.S. (additional verification for apples and pears will be required). Import licenses or member state approvals will no longer be required. Please contact with questions.

Clients in Mexico or Shipping to Switzerland: Clients located in Mexico and shipping directly to the EU, and those located in the U.S. and exporting directly to Switzerland, will need to enroll in CCOF’s new International Standard program. Please contact for more information.

Next Steps and More Information: Visit our International page for updates and more information.

NEW European Wine Standards: In early March 2012, the EU released standards for organic wine sold in Europe. Both CCOF and the NOP are reviewing the requirements of these standards and how to include them in the U.S.-EU Equivalency Agreement. We expect to see additional information about this from the NOP in the coming months. We do expect that NOP certified organic wines will ultimately be able to be exported as organic to the EU, but the EU Commission and the NOP have to further work out the details. CCOF clients interested in organic wine exports to the EU or Canada should contact for regular updates.