Japan and the United States have just signed an agreement which will make it easier to import and sell organic products from both countries. The agriculture counterparts from both countries, traditionally very big trade partners, have announced on Thursday that organic products certified in Japan or in the United States may be sold with the appropriate “organic” label in either country, thereby skipping the long process of getting their produce certified twice.
The United States exports a lot of organic produce to Japan, including soybeans, specialty crops like cauliflower and nuts, and processed products like frozen meals. Japan, on the other hand, provides organic green tea, sake and mushrooms for the United States market. The main concession from this deal came from Japan, who in agreeing to the deal has dropped its objections to two substances allowed in U.S. organic foods, but which it does not allow in its own organic products. Most of the two countries’ organic standards are the same, but in two substances – Japan, previous to this deal, has not allowed ligonum sulfonate, a substance used in post-harvest fruit production, and alkali-extracted humic acid, a fertilizer used to help grow a variety of organic crops.
The “organic” label has brought a boom to agricultural products, and annual organic sales to Japan from the United States now total around $80 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now says that it could potentially triple that amount to $250 million a year over the next 10 years. “This partnership reflects the strength of the USDA organic standards, allowing American organic farmers, ranchers, and businesses to access Asia’s largest organic market,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
[via The Republic]
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