The National Organic program launched a project in April to implement electronic import certificates, and has a new webpage to provide information about the program. Although using the electronic certificates is optional for now, customs brokers who start voluntarily submitting data will help NOP and U.S. Customs and Border Protection ensure the new certificate does not slow trade for valid organic products. Electronic organic import certificates are required by the 2018 Farm Bill and are closely connected with the Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule currently underway.
Effective July 16, 2020, the organic equivalence arrangement between the United States and Canada now includes organic livestock products and processed food products that containing livestock ingredients. US livestock products must be certified organic under the US National Organic Program, and either raised in the US, produced in the US, or a product for which final processing or packaging has occurred in the United States.
India requires organic products exported to the United States to have a Certificate of Inspection issued by a government-accredited certification agent through India’s TraceNet system. The NOP considers these Certificate of Inspection an essential record to demonstrate good control processes, and operations must maintain these certificates as part of their records for inspection.
Effective May 30, a new equivalence arrangement between the United States and Taiwan will facilitate trade of organic products between the two countries. Covering crops, wild crops, livestock, and processed products, the arrangement is limited to organic products that have been either raised within the United States or on Taiwan, or products for which final processing or packaging occurs within the United States or on Taiwan. This includes products processed or packaged in the U.S. or on Taiwan that contain organic ingredients from third countries that have been certified to the USDA or Taiwan organic standards. For retail products, labels or stickers must state the name of the U.S. or Taiwan certifying agent and may use the USDA Organic seal. Exported organic products must meet the labeling requirements in the destination country. Use of Taiwan’s organic mark is restricted for use only by Taiwan businesses and may not be applied to USDA organic products.
The following products may not be exported from Taiwan to the United States as certified organic:
- Agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics.
- Aquatic animals (e.g. fish, shellfish)
US agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics or systemic use of pain killers or analgesics, including the use of Lidocaine or Procaine may not sold, labeled, or represented as organic in Taiwan.
In a move to protect the environment, the European Union’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, components of the European Green Deal, propose increasing its organic farming to 25 percent of agriculture by 2030. Currently, 8 percent of agriculture in the EU is organic. In addition, EU has proposed cutting pesticide use by 50 percent and fertilizers by 20 percent in the next ten years. The proposals have yet to be approved by the member nations.
By issuing new organic legislation and a new unified logo for certified organic products, the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries seeks to raise the quality of organic products and boost consumer confidence and markets, especially for local fruits and vegetables. The new regulations cover production and processing of food crops and commercial organic agricultural products.
Demand for organic and local food has also increased dramatically and businesses have seen an accelerated uptake of digital solutions among consumers during the during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in France. These two trends resulted in the CEO of French food producer Organic Alliance predicting far-reaching consequences for the food system after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
Organic food now represents 10.3 percent of the total food market in Switzerland, according to Bio Suisse. Shoppers in Switzerland spent 3.07 billion euros on organic food in 2019. Most sales are from two large food chains: Coop and Migros, with sales at specialty organic retailers representing about 10 percent of the Swiss organic market. Best sellers in the organic category include eggs, fresh bread, vegetables and fruit.
A shortage of staff due to COVID-19 put a stop to United States Department of Agriculture inspections of fresh fruit in New Zealand. Instead, fruits are to be inspected at their port of entry in the US, which could result in fumigation of organic fruit if it is found to have a quarantined pest. This could result in a loss of income if organic fruits must be shifted to the conventional markets, and as a result, some growers in New Zealand are hesitant to export to the US, despite better prices than Europe or Asia.
In 2019, Austrians spent 580 million euros on fresh organic food, up 7 percent from the year before. Dairy products generate the highest share of products as organic; 25.5 percent of fresh milk sold in Austria is organic, yogurt is 23.7 percent and eggs are 22.1 percent. Bananas are the product with the largest quantity of organic sales.
United States Customs and Border Protection’s import system, the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), now includes electronic organic import certificates. Although the electronic organic certificate is optional at this point, it is expected to become mandatory with the publication of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule. U.S. importers who wish to request the NOP Import Certificate from exporters and include in their import filings may do so at any time.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification is now mandatory for all food facilities exporting products into South Korea. The new rules under the Special Act on Imported Food Safety Management (Imported Food Act) are expected to be enforced by October 8, 2020.
On March 31, 2020, Taiwan’s Agriculture Food Agency (AFA) of the Council of Agriculture (COA) issued a notification (COA-AFA No. 1091068942) that announced guidance related to import procedures for organic products. AFA notes that this guidance was necessary to avoid confusion due to COVID-19 related logistical delays and ongoing negotiations. As a transition measure, Taiwan announced that it will allow organic imports from countries that do not reach an organic equivalency agreement under certain conditions. AFA reminded importers of the mandate that all trading partners reach organics equivalency agreements by May 30, 2020 and that some negotiations are ongoing.
Taiwan authorities announced that organic products arriving between May 30, 2020 and December 31, 2020 from countries that have not achieved organic equivalency by the May 2020 deadline will be allowed entry if they meet the following requirements:
- The Taiwan importer must apply using the normal import approval process through the online system prior to May 30, 2020.
- The organic export certificate for that shipment (ex. USDA NOP TM-11) must be issued before May 30, 2020, even for shipments that will depart the United States after May 30, 2020.
All shipments must still follow Taiwan’s organic regulations and other required customs and quarantine procedures. This notification does not extend the Article 37 of the Organic Promotion Act deadline for equivalency negotiations past May 30, 2020.
The United Arab Emirates will accept imported United States organic products that have been certified to the requirements of US National Organic Program. Under a new decree (Ministerial Decree No. (768/2014)) and standards (UAE.S GSO 2374:2014), all food products imported or introduced to the UAE markets, which are identified as “Organic” or advertised as organic products, are considered under the scope of the new decree except for those products which are certified according to accepted/recognized organic programs by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA). ESMA now requires the addition of the UAE organic mark (logo) on the product label, however organic products certified with (USDA) Organic Mark are excluded from this requirement, reports the Organic Trade Association.
Land in China farmed under certified organic agriculture increased five fold from 2005 to 2018, to reach 3.1 million hectares, due in part to farmers’ interest in personal health, ecological protection and economic reasons. Government also provides a range of assistance for organic farms, from covering the cost of certification to funding farm infrastructure, and to training and marketing help. Community initiatives are also driving interest.
In a move welcomed by the Organic Exporters Association of New Zealand, the Organics Product Bill was introduced in Parliament. Along with national standards for production, the bill outlines requirements for marketing products as organic. After the First Reading in the Parliament, the bill will be open for public comment. New Zealand’s organic agriculture sector grew 30 percent between 2015 and 2018, to reach more than NZ$600 million.
In early February 2020, Taiwan's Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) has concluded organic equivalency negotiations with Japan and Australia. AFA published two updates to its website that agreements for organic equivalency had been reached with Australia on January 20, 2020, and with Japan on February 1, 2020. The full text of the Japan-Taiwan agreement was also made available. Australia and Taiwan have yet to publish finalized text.
On February 3, the United Arab Emirates sent notification to the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee about their draft “Control Scheme of Organic Inputs and Products.” Initial review of the document indicates that USDA Organic certified products would be able to continue entering the country. The Organic Trade Association is compiling comments from the community until March 19, 2020.
Austria remains one of the leading countries in organic production and consumption. In 2019, about 26 percent of the total agricultural area and 22 percent of all farms were under organic management. Austria has one of the highest per capita expenditures on organic products in the European Union and worldwide. Most important organic outlets are conventional supermarket chains. There are good market prospects for U.S. organic products which are not locally produced.
During a reception of the Bund für Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft BÖLW (Organic Food Production Alliance) in Berlin, Germany, the European Union’s Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said his dream was that all agriculture in Europe would be organic. He is advocating for additional development of organic agriculture in the EU Common Agricultural Policy.