National or regional organic action plans (OAPs) have been used increasingly to support organic farming across Europe since the mid 1990s.
We present the key conclusions of a study conducted by ORC for IFOAM, reviewing recent experiences with OAPs and similar initiatives across Europe in 2015. In the 32 European countries, we found 14 with a current national OAP (10) or similar initiative (4).
Often the impetus to develop an action plan comes from government, sometimes integrated with their Rural Development Programmes. We found several good examples, where lessons learned from a previous action plan shaped the development of the next one, but also lapsing plans and lack of continuity.
One common weakness (with some notable exceptions) is that many OAPs do not have specific targets or budgets for consultation and implementation, except for producer support which is covered by the CAP.
One important lesson for the organic sector is that OAPs are a strategic instrument for achieving organic sector goals and wider governmental policy objectives and for mobilising resources, rather than a policy goal in itself.