In November, Food Democracy Now started a petition drive urging President-elect Barack Obama to appoint a secretary of agriculture with a vision for a more sustainable food system.
Now that Obama has decided on Tom Vilsack for this position, Food Democracy Now has launched a new petition:
We want to Thank You for signing the original letter at Food Democracy Now! In just three weeks, more than 60,000 Americans have joined Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Alice Waters, Marion Nestle, Frances Moore Lappé, and Eric Schlosser calling for a sustainable USDA.
Now that the Secretary of Agriculture has been selected, it’s more important than ever that we send our message to Washington. Today’s farmers need a serious voice for sustainable change at the USDA.
Therefore, Food Democracy Now! has created a list of 12 candidates for the crucial Under Secretary positions that will stand up for family farms, safe food, clear air and water, animal welfare and soil preservation.
We need your help to continue to spread the word to your friends and colleagues to reach our goal of 100,000 signatures in the next two weeks before the Inauguration!
These 12 candidates have spent their lives fighting for family farmers and we’re calling them the Sustainable Dozen. Help us send them to Washington.
If you’ve already signed the petition, please forward this to one other person who cares about these issues to help us reach our goal of 100,000 Americans for a sustainable food system for the 21st century.
Once the Secretary of Agriculture is confirmed, we will deliver this letter with your comments to him and President Obama in Washington DC.
We at Food Democracy Now! are continuing to give voice to these concerns with policy makers at the federal, state and local levels, to gain a seat at the table and keep these issues at the forefront of future policy decisions.
Currently we are MORE THAN 60,000 voices strong. Please help keep this conversation going…Donate today. By donating as little as $5 or $10 you can make a difference in shaping the conversation at the USDA. Through our collective efforts, this letter has successfully reached “the right people” in Washington and we need to continue this vital work to create a future that we can ALL BELIEVE IN.
From all of us at Food Democracy Now! – Have a Happy, Sustainable New Year!
Food Democracy Now!
The links did not come through when I copied and pasted that message, so please click over to the site to read more.
Here is Food Democracy Now’s “sustainable dozen.” You may recognize several Iowans’ names on the list:
1. Gus Schumacher: Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture. Boston, Massachusetts
2. Chuck Hassebrook: Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Nebraska.
3. Sarah Vogel: attorney; former two-term Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota.
4. Fred Kirschenmann: organic farmer; Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, IA; President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, New York.
5. Mark Ritchie: current Minnesota Secretary of State; former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich; co-founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
6. Neil Hamilton: attorney; Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law and Director, Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
7. Doug O’Brien: current Assistant Director at Ohio Department of Agriculture; worked for the U.S. House and the Senate Ag Committee; former staff attorney and co-director for the National Agriculture Law Center in Arkansas, Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
8. James Riddle: organic farmer; founding chair of the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA); has served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force since 1991; appointed to the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, serving on the Executive Committee for 5 years and was chair in 2005, Board of Directors. Winona, Minnesota.
9. Kathleen Merrigan: Director, Agriculture, Food and Environment M.S./Ph.D. Program, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center on Agriculture; Food and the Environment, Tufts University; former Federal Agency Administrator U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service; creator of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, mandating national organic standards and a program of federal accreditation. Boston Massachusetts.
10. Denise O’Brien: organic farmer, founder of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN); represented the interests of women in agriculture at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995; organized a rural women’s workshop for the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, Italy; received nearly a half million votes in her 2006 bid to become Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. Atlantic, Iowa.
11. Ralph Paige: Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund; served as presidential appointment to the 21st Century Production Agriculture Commission; participates on the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee for Trade; the Cooperative Development Foundation; and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education & Economics Advisory Board. East Point, Georgia.
12. Karen Ross: President of the California Winegrape Growers Association and Executive Director of the Winegrape Growers of America; awarded the Wine Integrity Award by the Lodi Winegrape Commission for her contributions to the wine industry. Sacramento, California.
If you click over to Food Democracy Now, you’ll find a link for each of these people with more information about his or her background and expertise.
Thanks to all who sign the petition and help spread the word.
P.S.: There have been rumors this week that Obama may nominate Vilsack for secretary of commerce instead of secretary of agriculture, but aides close to Vilsack told KCCI news in Des Moines that the rumors are not true. He is apparently in Washington now interviewing potential future US Department of Agriculture staffers.Continue Reading...
Prominent advocates of sustainable agriculture, local foods, and more environmentally-friendly farming have sent an open letter to Barack Obama urging him to appoint a “sustainable choice for the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.” Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan and poet Wendell Berry were among the 88 people who signed the letter. They suggested six good choices to head the USDA, including two Iowans:
1. Gus Schumacher, former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture.
2. Chuck Hassebrook, executive director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Neb.
3. Sarah Vogel, former Commissioner of Agriculture for North Dakota, lawyer, Bismarck, N.D.
4. Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer, distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY.
5. Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State, former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich, co-founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
6. Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and director of the Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
Incidentally, Hamilton published an op-ed column in the Des Moines Register on Monday urging Obama to establish a “New Farmer Corps.”
Anyway, the people who signed the open letter are likely to be disappointed by Obama’s decision, because the reported short list for the post doesn’t include any advocate of sustainable agriculture. OrangeClouds115/Jill Richardson argues here that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius would be the least-bad option among the people Obama is considering to run the USDA. Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff would be a particularly bad choice.
On a related note, Ed Fallon wrote Obama a letter applying for the job of “White House Farmer.” Michael Pollan advocated the creation of this position in an article for the New York Times Sunday Magazine on October 12. Obama read Pollan’s piece (he even paraphrased points from it in an interview with Time magazine), but it is not known whether the president-elect supports setting aside a few acres of the White House lawn to be cultivated organically by a White House Farmer.
Fallon campaigned for John Edwards before the Iowa caucuses but endorsed Obama immediately after Edwards dropped out of the presidential race. His letter to Obama is after the jump.Continue Reading...