United States and Korea Streamline Organic Trade

Organic processed products certified in the United States or Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country. The arrangement between the two nations took effect on July 1.

"Korea is a growing, lucrative market for US organic products, and this arrangement increases demand for American organic products," said Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture.

Without this equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have to obtain separate certifications to meet each country's organic standards. This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork, and delays for farmers and commercial enterprises trying to export. Similar to previous US equivalency arrangements with Canada, the European Union and Japan, this arrangement with Korea eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic businesses.

This is Korea's first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner. Leading up to implementation of the agreement, US and Korean technical experts conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their programs' regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.

The arrangement covers organic condiments, frozen meals, cereal, baby food, milk and other processed products. According to US industry estimates, exports of organic processed products from the United States are valued at approximately $35 million annually.

The United States and Korea are committed to ensuring that all traded organic processed products meet the terms of the arrangement, retaining their organic integrity from farm to market. Korea's National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service and the National Organic Program in the United States, part of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service – each of which oversees organic products in their respective countries – will both take on key oversight roles.

The United States and Korea will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other's programs periodically to ensure that the terms of the arrangement are being met.