US officials must hustle to save organic trade relationship with Mexico in time

New Mexican regulations threaten to disrupt more than $100 million in organic food trade with the US. All in all, the Biden administration has less than three months to address the situation before the requirements take effect.

The new rules could tear down Mexico’s acceptance of US organic standards. Also, according to US government sources, staffing shortages and travel difficulties during the pandemic are complicating matters.

The US is still shipping organic milk, spinach, carrots, apples and pears south of the border with relative ease, but only because the USDA and the Office of the US Trade Representative convinced Mexico to temporarily delay implementation of the law that would force US organic producers to get separate organic certification from the Mexican government or Mexican certifiers before they could sell their products to Mexican buyers.

Agri-pulse.com reports that Mexico did not officially notify the US that it planned to implement the regulations. It was in mid-December that the US-based Organic Trade Association was tipped off that Mexico’s Health, Food Safety, and Quality Agency, or SENASICA, would begin mandating that all US organic exports would need a separate certification to show that they conformed exactly with Mexican standards. In other words, US standards would no longer be deemed equivalent or sufficient.

The regulations were to take effect Dec. 28, threatening US organic food exports that totaled $117 million in 2017, according to the latest US data. Mexico exported $278 million worth of organic commodities to the US in the same year.


Photo source: Dreamstime.com


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