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Notice to the Canadian organic industry regarding the interpretation of the US-Canada Organic equivalency arrangement

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

To: All interested parties

Date: August 25, 2020

This notice provides clarification on the interpretation of the current US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement (USCOEA) which was signed in June 2009 and amended in January 2012.

The arrangement covers the accreditation system of both regulations in its geographical entirety meaning that agricultural products certified in accordance with the terms of the USCOEA are eligible for sale as organic in both countries. The product being traded under this arrangement does not have to originate within either country.

As per 357 (1)(ii) of the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) this arrangement applies only to those certification bodies who are accredited directly by either authority.

The USCOEA does not cover the USDA recognition agreements with India, Israel and New Zealand. Organic products certified by India, Israel and New Zealand accredited certification bodies should not be imported to Canada at this time.

However, these organic agricultural products can continue to be imported and marketed in Canada as organic products as long as these are certified by CFIA accredited certification bodies or by U.S. accredited certification bodies recognized under the US-Canada organic equivalency arrangement.

The list of CFIA accredited certification bodies is available on CFIA's organic products website.

The list of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) accredited certification bodies that are under the direct oversight of the NOP is available on USDA organic certifier locator.

The CFIA accredited CBs are required to continue to review all the certificates accompanying imported organic products and verify on-going compliance with the SFCR.

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