Recognition of Organic Equivalency with Switzerland

In September 2016, the Government of Canada entered into an expanded arrangement on the trade of organic products with Switzerland. Below are copies of letters exchanged between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Federal Office for Agriculture.

Letter to the Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland

Mr. Adrian Aebi
Vice-Director
Markets Added Value Directorate
Federal Office for Agriculture
3003 Bern, Switzerland

Date: September 19, 2016

Subject: Amendment of Recognition of Equivalency with Switzerland, 2016

Dear Mr. Aebi:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reviewed the Switzerland organic certification program as set out in the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinances.

Pursuant to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act and the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the CFIA has determined that based on that review agricultural products, including wine, which are produced and /or processed in Switzerland and which are:

  • certified in conformity with the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance by a control body approved in accordance with the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance; and
  • accompanied by the certificate which is issued by a Swiss control body

are deemed equivalent to those products that have been produced and /or processed in accordance with the Canadian Organic Products Regulations, 2009 (OPR 2009); and may be sold, labelled and represented in Canada as organic, including by display of the Canadian organic logo as well as any organic seal recognized by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). This recognition will be effective as of October 1, 2016 under the conditions set forth in Appendix 1.

This letter/recognition replaces the CFIA's previous letter/recognition dated 21 June 2011 on the same subject-matter. The CFIA, which administers the OPR, 2009 is committed to working with the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) to carry out what is envisioned in this new letter.

Sincerely,

Lyzette Lamondin
Acting Executive Director
Food Import Export and Consumer Protection Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Attachments:
1. Appendix 1: Conditions of granting equivalency

Appendix 1

Conditions for granting equivalency

The recognition of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) notifies the CFIA in a timely manner of any:
    1. changes with respect to Swiss competent authorities and accredited control bodies;
    2. all proposed legislation or rule making that would modify any element of the Swiss Organic System; and
    3. instances of significant non-compliance with Swiss's organic certification program. For purposes of this equivalency determination, "significant" means any non-conformity that materially affects the integrity of the organic product that is likely to be exported to Canada.
  2. Following advance notice from the CFIA, the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) allows the CFIA to conduct evaluations (document reviews or on-site peer reviews) to verify how the Switzerland accredited control authorities and control bodies carry out the requirements of Swiss's organic certification program. FOAG cooperates and assists the CFIA, to the extent permitted under domestic law, in carrying out such evaluations.
  3. FOAG is expected to submit an annual report to the CFIA that will cover the organic activities for the previous year by March 31 of the current year.

FOAG participates in discussions or other means deemed appropriate to resolve any issue raised regarding the application of or the activities covered by this recognition.

Letter from the Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland

Mme Lyzette Lamondin
Acting Executive Director
Food Import Export and Consumer Protection
Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
1400 Merivale Road Tower 2, Floor 6, Room 350
Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A 0Y9

Responsible official: Priska Dittrich
Bern, September 19th, 2016

Amendment of Recognition of Equivalency with Canada

Dear Madam Director,

The Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) has examined the Canadian request for recognition of the Canadian Organic System on the basis of Article 23 of the Swiss Ordinance on Organic Farming and the Labelling of Organically Produced Products and Foodstuffs (910.18).

Based on that review, FOAG has determined that agricultural products and foodstuffs, including wine, which are produced and/or processed in Canada. And which are

  1. Certified in conformity with Canada's Organic Products Regulations, 2009 as in effect on October 1, 2016; and
  2. accompanied by a certificate of inspection for the import of products from organic production (Organic Farming Ordinance 910.181, Annex 9) completed by a CFIA-accredited certification body.

are deemed equivalent to those products that have been produced and processed in accordance with the Swiss Ordinance on Organic Farming and the Labelling of Organically Produced Products and Foodstuffs (910.18) and the Swiss Ordinance on Organic Farming of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) (910.181) (hereinafter "Swiss organic ordinances"). These products may be sold, labelled and represented in Switzerland as organic, including by display of the Canadian organic logo.

This recognition will be effective as of October 1, 2016, under the conditions set forth in Appendix 1.

The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) has amended Annex 4 of the Swiss Ordinance on Organic Farming of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) (910.181) accordingly.

Switzerland is also pleased to acknowledge Canada's recognition of the Swiss organic ordinances in its letter of today.

FOAG and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) are committed to working with CFIA as described in this cover letter and its associated appendices and in Canada's letter of today, 19 September, 2016 and its associated appendix.

Sincerely,
Federal Office for Agriculture

Adrian Aebi
Assistant Director

Attachments:

1. Appendix 1: Conditions of granting equivalency

Appendix 1

Conditions for granting equivalency

The recognition of the Federal Office for Agriculture (FDAG) is subject to the following conditions:

  1. The CFIA will notify the FOAG in a timely manner of any instances of the following:
    1. Changes with respect to the accreditation status of any CFIA-accredited certification bodies;
    2. All proposed and final legislation and rulemaking that would modify any element of the Canada Organic Regime; and
    3. Instances of significant non-compliances with Canada's organic certification program. For the purposes of this equivalency determination, "significant" means any non conformity that materially affects the integrity of the organic product that is likely to be exported to Switzerland.
  2. Following advance notice from the FOAG, the CFIA will permit FOAG officials to conduct evaluations (document reviews or on-site peer reviews) to verify how the Canadian authorities and CFIA accredited Certification bodies carry out Canada's organic certification program. The CFIA cooperates and assists the FOAG, to the extent permitted, in carrying out such evaluations.
  3. Canada is expected to submit an annual report to the FOAG that will cover the organic activities for the previous year by March 31 of the current year.
  4. Canada participates in discussions or other means deemed appropriate to resolve any issue raised regarding the application of or the activities covered by this recognition.

Letter from the Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland

Please note: the information in the following letter has been revised. The most current information can be found in the letter dated September 19, 2016.

December 18,2012

Mr. Jacques Chavaz
Deputy Director General
Markets and International Affairs
Federal Office for Agriculture
3003 Bern, Switzerland

Mr. Deputy Director General, Jacques Chavaz,

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reviewed the Switzerland organic certification program as set out in the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance.

Pursuant to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act and the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the CFIA has determined that agricultural products of plant and/or animal origin which are:

  1. produced and processed in Switzerland, and/or
  2. processed in Switzerland and contain ingredients originating from EU member states certified to the European Union's Commission Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and/or
  3. processed in Switzerland and containing ingredients originating from Canada certified to the Canadian Organic Products Regulations (OPR 2009),

and which are:

  • in conformity with the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance,
  • produced and processed under an organic certification program that provides safeguards and guidelines governing the production and processing of such products;
  • subject to the conditions set forth in Appendices 1 and 2;

are deemed equivalent to those products that have been produced and processed in accordance with the Canadian Organic Products Regulations, 2009 (OPR 2009); and may be sold, labelled and represented in Canada as organic, including by display of the Canadian organic logo as well as any organic seal recognized by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). This recognition will be effective as of the date of this letter.

The CFIA's Canada Organic Office (COO), which administers the OPR 2009, is committed to working with the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) to carry out what is envisioned in this letter.

Sincerely,

Luc Rivard
Acting Executive Director
Food Labelling and Claims Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

1400 Merivale Road
Tower 2, 5th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0Y9
Telephone: 613-773-5442
Fax: 613-773-5961

Appendix 1

The equivalency decision of CFIA is subject to the following:

1. The Swiss FOAG will notify the CFIA in a timely manner of any:

  1. changes with respect to the Swiss FOAG competent authority and certifying agents;
  2. proposed legislation or rulemaking that would modify the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance;
  3. instances of significant non-compliance with Swiss FOAG organic certification program. For purposes of this equivalency determination, "significant" means any non-conformity that materially affects the integrity of the organic product subject to this recognition.

2. Following advance notice from the CFIA, the Swiss FOAG will permit the CFIA to conduct evaluations (document review or on-site visits) to verify how the Swiss accredited certifying agents carry out the requirements of Switzerland's organic certification program. The Swiss FOAG will cooperate and assist the CFIA, to the extent permitted under domestic law, in carrying out such evaluations.

3. Should there be any issue raised regarding the application of or the activities covered under this letter, the CFIA and the Swiss FOAG will participate in discussions or other means they deem appropriate to resolve the issue.

4. Should the CFIA decide to change its criteria for determining equivalency, it will notify Swiss FOAG in writing in advance.

Appendix 2

The following transitional provisions apply:

1. The interim limited scope of origin placed on products may be expanded at a future date when CFIA receives assurance from Swiss FOAG that organic products grown in third countries, other than the European Union and included in multi-ingredient processed products comply with the organic principles of Switzerland. Organic wine may be included in the scope at a future date when CFIA receives assurance that the Swiss organic wine regulations comply with Canadian organic wine standards.

2. Products not covered by the interim limited scope of origin of this letter will continue to be certified in accordance with the OPR 2009. Ingredients deemed equivalent under this letter do not need any additional certification.

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