Organic equivalency talks underway with MexicoOn-site assessments of Mexico"s organic certification program is on the agenda later this year as U.S. officials negotiate an organic equivalency program with their Mexican counterparts.

Representatives from the Mexican National Health Service, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) met with officials from the U.S. National Organic Program (NOP) and other federal agencies July 30 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in Washington D.C.

"Both countries have agreed to conduct regular teleconferences to discuss implementation issues and to prepare for the on-site audit," said Miles McEvoy, NOP deputy director.

"A timeframe for the completed discussions has yet to be established, but discussions with other countries have taken up to two years to complete."

The U.S. negotiating group has tentative plans to visit Mexico later this year, McEvoy said. Mexican Organic equivalency talks underway with Mexicoofficials said both countries agreed on "the need for rapid progress to benefit consumers and producers in both countries," according to a statement issued in late August.

Earlier this year the Mexican government approved programs that meet NOP standards, according to the statement from SENASICA.

A U.S. delegation is expected to visit certified organic operations in Southern Mexico late this year with a follow-up meeting planned in early 2015, according to the NOP and SENASICA.

McEvoy said organic trade partnerships create opportunities for American businesses, citing $186 million in exports of selected organic products to Mexico in 2013. Fresh apples, grapes and pears made up the bulk of that trade, McEvoy said.

The U.S. started tracking selected imports from Mexico in 2013 including organic mangoes and bananas and tallied $135 million worth of those products were imported, McEvoy said. The $135 million includes avocados, coffee and other organic products in addition to the mangoes and bananas.