(Sept. 11) The Canadian division of the Organic Trade Association is optimistic that new organic standards released for public comment Sept. 1 will help boost sales and exports.

The standards will undergo a 75-day public comment period before the government makes them final, said Stephanie Wells, Canadian council liaison of the Greenfield, Mass.-based association.

Wells said she read the standards and is pleased with what she’s seen.

“There are only a couple of little areas I would like to see cleared up,” she said. “Overall, the regulation itself is very concise. The government has given the industry what it wanted.”

After the comment period and possible revisions, the standards will be mandatory. Wells said Canada’s current standards, in place since 1998, were voluntary.

The lack of mandatory standards threatened to be a problem, she said.

“We have been warned over the last few years that the European Union, which is one of our biggest trading partners, would not take product from countries that do not have a regulation put forth,” she said.

A nationwide standard also could help boost sales by giving consumers an easily recognizable label, she said.

“It is difficult for consumers to recognize the 20 or more different labels (from the different certifiers),” she said. “When they see that Canada Organic seal, it’s just much clearer.”

The standards and an accompanying explanation, published in the Sept. 1 edition of Canada Gazette — a Canadian government publication — said many Canadian certifiers already are recognized by the USDA. According to the publication, Canadian organic products will continue to have equivalent certification status in the U.S. when the new standards are enacted.

Wells said the Organic Trade Association also elected its first Canadian Advisory Committee. The committee is deciding on the scope of the new Canadian division, which was created in July, and the job description for its future managing director.

Wells said she expects the committee to establish a managing director position and decide where it will have its office by the end of October.