Meat processor Dakota Beef has signed an agreement with the Canadian Organic Livestock Association (COLA) to provide certified organic beef to the European Union.
The company has also agreed terms with British-based engineering company FJB Systems to ensure that imports meet EU beef importation standards.
Dakota Beef plans to begin processing COLA beef in September 2003 for distribution in the EU.
"North American certified organic beef is a natural for the EU market, which has refused to accept hormone-treated beef from the US for more than a decade," said Dakota Beef chief executive Scott Lively.
Dakota Beef's decision to partner with COLA reflects the ongoing limited supply of certified organic beef available in the United States.
A study released by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture revealed that because US meat products could not be labelled organic until February 1999, the move to organic beef production has lagged behind other agricultural products.
As a result, less than 1 per cent of livestock in the US is currently certified organic.
"This is a perfect time and an exciting opportunity to illustrate to cattle producers in the US that they can improve profits by moving to certified organic production," said Lively.
COLA is the world's largest organic livestock association. Its aim is to promote the organic livestock industry and develop marketing opportunities and structures for the benefit of its producer members.
"We are very excited about our new relationship with Dakota Beef," said COLA president Sam Rhode.
Dakota Beef is a fully integrated beef processing company providing private label organic and natural beef for retail and food service industry sale.