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US: Import certificate requirement for organics from Mexico

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Mexico’s National Service for Animal and Plant Health, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) are committed to increasing transparency and strengthening monitoring and enforcement controls for organic products traded between the two countries. One important mechanism for achieving this goal is the use of import certificates.

In October 2016, USDA and SENASICA established an agreement to require import certificates for all organic products traded between the United States and Mexico. On Jan. 16, 2017, the new requirement will become effective for all products entering the United States from Mexico, and these products must be accompanied by a National Organic Program (NOP) import certificate. Mexico will implement its own requirement for organic products entering Mexico from the United States in early 2017.

The NOP is part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and enforces the organic regulations for domestic and imported agricultural products. NOP import certificates are used to verify that products shipped to the United States comply with the USDA organic regulations and must be issued by an accredited certifying agent for products they certify. USDA currently requires an import certificate for organic imports coming from European Union member states, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland.

USDA will work with stakeholders in the United States and Mexico to begin using the NOP import certificate. The NOP will host webinars for certifying agents and importers in early January 2017 to help them understand the requirement and prepare for its implementation. The certifier webinar will focus on helping participants understand how to implement the requirement, and will provide an opportunity for them to ask questions. The webinar for importers will help this group understand their role in implementing the use of import certificates, including the need to request import certificates for each shipment of organic products from Mexico that they receive in the United States.

Implementing the use of import certificates for organic products shipped to the United States from Mexico will improve consumer confidence in imported organic products and protect the integrity of the organic trade.

With the new labeling requirements and organic rules for retailers and producers, the potential for Mexican organic agriculture remains high. Additionally, U.S. companies should continue to monitor the new program, and consult with their certifying agency for international rules and regulations. For more information ask FGH´s International Agri Business, Latin America's leading Agribusiness Consulting firm, always in the path of “down to earth” innovation and searching for new approaches and explore, as well, untapped sources of value and new agribusiness models..

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