7th Annual Farm & Food Leadership Conference:
Featuring Keynote Francis Thicke, Organic Dairy Farmer
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance is proud to announce its 7th Annual Farm and Food Leadership Conference taking place on September 22-23, 2013 in Bastrop, Texas. This year’s conference includes a special Sunday evening banquet with local foods prepared by Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due.
Conference attendance has more than tripled since the first one held in 2007, and it is one of the few gatherings anywhere in the country focused on government policies and regulations impacting local food and agriculture. The event brings together a diverse group of activists, farmers and ranchers, nonprofits, and consumers who care about where our food comes from.
The conference program features experts on current food and agriculture issues, including the Farm Bill, genetically modified foods (GMOs), FDA food safety regulations, local food hubs, water planning and policy, urban farming, raw milk, and more. Speakers include Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch; Eric Herm, farmer and author of Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth; Dr. Ken Kramer, Water Resources Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club; and Texas State Representatives Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), along with many more.
This year’s event also includes a pre-conference beginner’s citizen activism workshop, with advanced training sessions during the conference itself on lobbying, fundraising, and messaging.
“We have important opportunities to change the policies that govern our food system, but we need people – farmers, food producers, chefs, and consumers – who understand the issues and are willing to speak up,” explained Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “This conference is about educating regular citizens, helping them connect with others, and training them how to be advocates for local food producers and small farmers.”
This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Francis Thicke, who owns and operates a grass-fed organic dairy in Iowa and sells all his products within four miles of his farm. After completing his Ph.D., Thicke worked at the USDA in Washington, D.C., serving as the National Program Leader for Soil Science. He returned to full-time farming in 1992. Thicke offers a unique perspective, having worked with a national agency that regulates farmers and also being a small-scale farmer himself.
2013 conference supporters include platinum sponsor Edible Austin; visionary sponsor Pam Walker – author of Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas; silver sponsors Cedar Park & Mueller Farmers Market, Edible Dallas Fort Worth, Sustainable Food Center, and Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and bronze sponsor Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.
For more information about the conference including registration, program, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit farmandranchfreedom.org.