An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism.
– Wendell Berry, Farmer, Author, Poet, 1982
What is it?
The National Organic Action Plan (NOAP) articulates a vision for the future of organic food and agriculture in the United States. It engages collaborators from across the organic community. NOAP sets out a broad set of goals to guide organic agriculture in the United States over the next ten years.
This blueprint is derived from the grassroots:
- farmers and workers
- regional processors and retailers
- concerned consumers
- other community members
Organic agriculture and the organic market should
- support family farmers,
- protect human health and
- benefit the environment.
The long-term success of the organic market as a viable mechanism requires a coordinated effort to plan ahead and work proactively, rather than merely reacting to policy, programs and industry changes.
This project enables the organic community to remain focused on the goals of sustainability, diversity and justice in organic agriculture, while being flexible and adaptable in the strategies to reach those goals.
It establishes verifiable and meaningful benchmarks at the federal, state, marketplace, and civil society levels. These benchmarks will guide and track progress as we define the farm and food policies critical to success.
Countries all over the world have developed and implemented national organic action plans with clear targets, benchmarks, and protocols to facilitate public accountability of agricultural policies. The U.S. National Organic Action Plan builds on this experience, but with a focus on the grassroots.
The National Organic Action Plan is a collaborative project.
- The Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA initiated and leads the project.
- The National Organic Coalition provides leadership on issues relating to federal policy.
- Partner organizations participate by co-sponsoring dialogue meetings, helping with planning, and fundraising for Summit participation scholarships.
Since 2006, NOAP dialogue meetings engaged more than 300 participants from 28 states at 11 venues across the country. Topics at these day-long discussions about the future of organic agriculture included:
- what is working well in organic food and agriculture,
- current problems in organic agriculture,
- strategies for strengthening farmer and consumer voices in organic policy,
- opportunities and challenges in the changing organic marketplace,
- benchmarks of a successful organic market,
- subjects for research and education, and
- other issues.
The NOAP National Summit took place February 25-26, 2009 and convened more than 85 participants to review the results of the regional dialogue meetings. Participants of the summit collaboratively developed a plan to advance policy objectives and innovative marketplace tools that ensure organic agriculture’s integrity. NOAP now exists to help members of the organic community take action on federal, state, and local levels.
Progress towards the goals and benchmarks of the NOAP is expected to be evaluated every two to three years. Revisions will be made as needed. In this way, NOAP will remain a relevant and dynamic blueprint for the future of organic food and agriculture in the United States.
“From the Margins to the Mainstream: Advancing Organic Agriculture in the U.S.”
Michael Sligh, Just Foods Program Director, RAFI – (919) 929-7099, [email protected]