(September 25, 2013) Santa Cruz, CA - USDA and Japan announced Thursday at Natural Products Expo East a new organic equivalency agreement, finalizing many years of perseverance toward equivalence without critical variances. As of January 1, 2014, the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries will recognize the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS). CCOF engaged early in the agreement process, representing our more than 2,600 members by hosting visits with Japanese officials here in the United States.
CCOF Executive Director Cathy Calfo: “This agreement is vital to specialty crop growers, who number more than 2,000 in California alone. These producers will be able to expand sales in a vibrant Japanese market, inspiring growth in a sector that is already creating jobs and economic opportunity. Organic is the sole U.S. agricultural sector that is realizing growth in sales and jobs, according to 2011 reports.”
While some of each country’s rules and standards are not identical, it has been determined through audits of each program that both achieve organic integrity and maintain high quality standards. Products produced and certified to USDA-NOP standards will be marketable in Japan as “organic.” In addition, Japanese products certified to JAS standards may marketed in the United States as “organic” under this agreement.
Thanks to the work of the organic sector over the last decade, this equivalency arrangement reopens an important Asian consumer market for U.S. organic products, creating jobs and opportunities for U.S. organic operations and producers. The steady and ongoing growth of the organic market, coupled with new export opportunities abroad, makes for an economic environment full of opportunities for organic producers. Without burdensome paperwork and duplicative fees for export, organic producers are more prepared than ever to expand into international markets such as Japan.