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Organic Consumers Association

OCA at the U.S. National Organic Action Plan Summit

  • Report from the U.S. National Organic Action Plan Summit
    By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq.
    Organic Consumers Association, February 25, 2009
    Straight to the Source

On February 25 and 26, 2009, OCA's Political Director Alexis Baden-Mayer was in Lacrosse, WI, attending the U.S. National Organic Action Plan summit where a grassroots group of organic producers and consumers are discussing a coordinated plan to work proactively, rather than merely reacting to policy, programs and industry changes. Countries all over the world have developed and implemented national organic action plans with clear targets, benchmarks,
and protocols to improve public health, preserve the environment, protect biodiversity, dramatically reduce fossil fuel use, and stabilize the climate. For example, in the European Union each country has its own action plan and the European Commission's department on Agriculture and Rural Development has launched a public campaign, Organic Farming: Good for Nature, Good for You. The U.S. National Organic Action Plan builds on this experience, with a strong focus on grassroots participation. To read the summit discussion paper and share your vision for a U.S. National Organic Action Plan, go to:
http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/NOAPlink.html

Here are a few excerpts from the discussion paper, along with notes from the summit discussion:

The true significance of organic agriculture emerges when we view it in the broad context of its potential to contribute to reversing our planetary collision course with the earth's ecological carrying capacity. Organic agriculture offers concrete solutions to many of our societal, environmental and rural development challenges today. Mitigation of agricultural causes of global climate change, improved soil, animal and human health, and improved quality of life, water quality, and rural economic development head the list of the major contributions of the organic agricultural approach to solving the food and fiber challenges of the 21st Century.
-- National Organic Action Plan Summit Discussion Paper, Executive Summary, page 4

During the nearly five years of U.S. National Organic Action Plan dialogue sessions, five major themes have emerged that provide an overarching and broad framework for this effort:
*     To ensure organic integrity and continued organic quality improvements.
*     To ensure a fair marketplace for U.S. family farms and workers.
*     To ensure access to healthy organic food for all U.S. income levels.

(As Michael Sligh, founding chair of the National Organic Standards Board and member of the NOAP Drafting Team, quipped in his welcoming address to the summit, "The organic movement did not set out to create a niche market for rich people!")
*     To maximize U.S. production potential to ensure an increasing U.S.-produced share of the U.S. organic marketplace and ensure that each state maximizes its potential to meet in-state organic demand.
*     To move U.S. organic food and agriculture policy from its focus on the marketplace to encompass the significant goals associated with the public good, including social change, public health and environmental protection.

-- National Organic Action Plan Summit Discussion Paper, Executive Summary, page 4

At the summit, proposals gathered over nearly five years of U.S. National Organic Action Plan Dialogues were explored in working groups, with the goal of setting priority objectives and benchmarks. OCA participated in the working group on the environment. Other groups addressed health, social and cultural change, research, education, organic integrity, marketplace, and transition and incentives.

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