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Live from La Crosse, it’s NOAP (National Organic Action Plan) Day 1

The impetus for NOAP is the need to have shared vision, set objectives, and benchmarks for measuring organic agriculture’s social and environmental benefits, and to develop strategy for the growth of US organic food and agriculture for the next decade and beyond. Many countries have developed an organic action plan - including the EU - providing a framework for the development of a US NOAP.

The items being discussed and developed are outlined in the,

Towards a National Organic Action Plan discussion paper. This document is the aggregation and extrapolation of the discussions from the dialogue meetings that occurred throughout the USA over the past five years and involved stakeholders from all aspects of the organic community (farmers, policy makers, state and federal ag, manufacturers, trade associations, consumers, etc.)

Over the course of these dialogue meetings key objectives emerged consistently and independently. These key objectives are:

  • To ensure organic integrity and continued organic quality improvements
  • To ensure a fair marketplace for US family farms and workers
  • To ensure access to healthy organic food for the entire range of US income levels
  • To maximize organic production potential to ensure an increasing US-produced share of the US organic marketplace and ensure that each state maximizes its potential to meet in-state organic demand
  • To move US organic food and agricultural policy from its focus on the marketplace to encompass the significant goals associated with the public good, including social , health and environmental benefits

NOAP is a work-in-progress and towards that progress the NOAP Summit is two days of process and collaboration. And when I say collaboration, I mean drink your coffee and pay attention because there is no hanging out in the corners (or heading out in the hall to take a phone call). By signing-on for this Summit 150+ people have made a commitment to actively participate in the dialogue and refinement of the key objectives.

Day 1 begins with an explanation of the process and then we split-off into our respective key objective groups (mine was MARKETPLACE) where we are given a list of twenty+ initiatives (pp 32-33 of the draft) that we will need to refine, debate, and assess for

SMART-ness ). And this is no small order, anytime you have knowledgeable, passionate people you have “lively” debate/ The upside is you walk away with a comprehensive list of action items related to your objective. After refining our 20+ initiatives, our breakout group voted on the ten we felt most relevant, impactful, and important to our key objective. After our vote, the entire 150+ group got together to go through the top ten SMART results from each group. Certain SMART results emerged from the independent discussions of the groups. In broad strokes they were:
  • Growth – of organic agriculture to meet demand with a regional food system infrastructure
  • Financial capital - for research, for farmers, and for investment in land for organic agriculture, and for product/crop development
  • Communication - on the human health benefits, and soil, water and air benefits of organic agriculture to consumers and government and funders
  • Transition support- labeling and incentives for those in the transition-to-organic process
  • Transparency – from USDA, and on materials and processes used
  • Farmers – one-stop resource for farmers to get the information they need on certification, transition, research, marketing, etc,
  • Accountability – put the onus on those corrupting seed and water
  • Access to organic food – for all aspects of society and through institutions such as hospitals, and schools

More to come on day 2…

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