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Award Honorees

Mark Lipson , USDA

2011 : Organic Leadership Award for Achievement in Growing Organic Agriculture

Since 1983, Mark Lipson has been a member of the Molino Creek Farming Collective in California, and at one time or another, has performed all the various roles of farm operations and management. In the mid-1980s he established the statewide office of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and became CCOF’s first paid employee. While there, he led the development of many of the foundational aspects of organic certification systems. He also played a key role in the passage and implementation of the California Organic Foods Act of 1990 and the national Organic Foods Production Act. He was chairman of the California Organic Food Advisory Board from 1991 to 1997. He joined the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in1995, and served as Policy Program Director and Senior Policy Analyst until 2010. There, he was a nationally recognized leader in the development of federal policy initiatives for organic agriculture.

In 1997 he authored the study “Searching for the O-Word,” which documented the lack of USDA research support for organic farming systems. This work led to OFRF’s creation of the Scientific Congress for Organic Agricultural Research, a national network for producers and scientists pursing the science of organic production and markets. Lipson joined USDA in June 2010 as Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor. His responsibilities include cross-agency coordination of organic farming policy issues and assisting with the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative.