All organic products shipped between the U.S. and Mexico will require import certificates beginning early in 2017.

An recent agreement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Mexican counterpart, SENASICA, is aimed at “increasing transparency and strengthening monitoring and enforcement controls for organic products traded between the two countries,” according to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The use of import certificates is one way to reach that goal, the agency said.

In October, USDA and SENASICA established an agreement to require import certificates for all organic products traded between the U.S. and Mexico. The new requirement takes effect Jan. 16 for all products entering the U.S. from Mexico. These products must be accompanied by a National Organic Program (NOP) import certificate. Mexico has agreed to implement its own requirement for organic products entering Mexico from the U.S. in early 2017.

The NOP is part of AMS and enforces organic regulations for domestic and imported agricultural products. NOP import certificates are used to verify that products shipped to the U.S. comply with the USDA organic regulations and must be issued by an accredited certifying agent.

USDA currently requires an import certificate for organic imports coming from European Union member states, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland.

USDA said it will work with stakeholders in U.S. and Mexico to begin using the NOP import certificate. The NOP plans to schedule webinars for certifying agents and importers in early January 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. An importer webinar will define 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 U.S.

Information on the certifier webinar is available at https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/webinar-certifiers-mexico-import-certificates.

Information on the importer webinar is at https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/webinar-importer-mexico-import-certificates.