The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic agriculture movement, uniting more than 750 member organizations in 108 countries. It declares its mission to be as follows:
"IFOAM's mission is leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity. Our goal is the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems that are based on the principles of Organic Agriculture."
Among its wide range of activities, IFOAM maintains an organic farming standard, and an organic accreditation service.
IFOAM began in Versailles, France, on November 5, 1972, during an international congress on organic agriculture organized by the French farmer organization Nature et Progrès. The late Roland Chevriot, President of Nature et Progrès, took the initiative. There were 5 founding members representing different organizations: Lady Eve Balfour representing the Soil Association of Great Britain, Kjell Arman representing the Swedish Biodynamic Association, Pauline Raphaely representing the Soil Association of South Africa, Jerome Goldstein representing Rodale Press of the United States, and Roland Chevriot representing Nature et Progrès of France.
The aim of the new organization was reflected in the name: International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. The founders hoped that the federation would meet what they saw as a major need: a unified, organized voice for organic food, and the diffusion and exchange of information on the principles and practices of organic agriculture across national and linguistic boundaries.
The IFOAM General Assembly serves as the foundation of IFOAM. It elects the IFOAM World Board for a three year term. The IFOAM World Board is a diverse group of individuals working voluntarily to lead IFOAM. The current World Board was elected at the IFOAM General Assembly in Vignola/Italy , which took place from June 22-24, 2008. The World Board appoints members to official committees, working groups and task forces based upon the recommendation of the IFOAM membership, and IFOAM member organizations also establish regional groups and sector specific interest groups.
IFOAM actively participates in international agricultural and environmental negotiations with the United Nations and multilateral institutions to further the interests of the organic agricultural movement worldwide, and has observer status or is otherwise accredited by the following international institutions:
ECOSOC Status with the United Nations General Assembly
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Codex Alimentarius Commission (FAO and WHO)
United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
International Labor Organization of the United Nations (ILO)
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
According to the One World Trust's Global Accountability Report 2008 which assessed a range of organisations in areas such as transparency, stakeholder participation and evaluation capacity, "IFOAM is the highest scoring international NGO, and at the top of the 30 organisations this year with a score of 71 percent".