U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is launching "The Food Dialogues," marking the first time that farmers and ranchers have come together to listen to and begin addressing the biggest questions Americans have about how their food is grown and raised. The interactive Town Hall style discussion, will bring different viewpoints to the table to discuss the future of food and the agriculture industry.
The event will be moderated by Claire Shipman of "Good Morning America" and ABC News and will feature Chef John Besh. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will also contribute, as part of a series of four panel discussions taking place live in four separate, interconnected locations across the country, including The Newseum in Washington, D.C.; Chelsea Studios in New York; Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana and the Robert Mondavi Institute, University of California at Davis. The event will also allow virtual participation via Facebook and www.fooddialogues.com.
12:15 to 1:15 p.m. EDT: "The Voice of Farmers and Ranchers"
Discussion Overview: This panel will focus on farmer and rancher values and choices, and how consumer reaction guides choices. The discussion will highlight the complexity of modern agriculture while associating real names, faces and stories with these challenges. Key topics include:
• Animal care, antibiotic and hormone use
• The "real work" behind modern agriculture; farmers and ranchers will highlight personal stories, values and motivation for remaining in agriculture
• The economics of farming and ranching and how it results in difficult decisions about balancing profitability, sustainability and consumer demands
• Consumers' role in guiding farmer and rancher decisions
Location: Fair Oaks Farm/Fair Oaks, Ind.
• Moderator: Max Armstrong, Farm Progress
o Malcolm DeKryger, vice president, Belstra Milling
o Phil Bradshaw, USFRA Vice Chairman
o Casie Conley, Future Farmers of America Indiana State President
o Mike McCloskey, president, owner, Fair Oaks Farms
o Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture, Iowa State University
1:15 to 2:15 p.m. EDT: "The View from 30,000 Feet"
Discussion Overview: The Washington, D.C. panel will focus on macro issues such as feeding our growing population while maintaining high standards for safety, quality and an abundant supply to ensure low food prices. Key topics include:
• The commitment to providing healthy food choices for all and how U.S. farming gives us options
• Options and consumer choice
• The tradeoffs between conventional, organic, local, natural, etc. and how these farming and ranching methods affect our country's ability to provide food supply domestically and internationally
• The importance of government investment in the nation's food supply
• The role the U.S. plays in feeding the world
Location: The Newseum/Washington, D.C.
• Emcee: Claire Shipman, ABC News
• Moderator: Phil Lempert, food industry analyst
o Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary
o Tres Bailey, director of Agriculture and Food, Wal-Mart
o Kathi Brock, director of Strategic Partnerships American Humane Association
o Frank DiPasquale, CEO, School Nutrition Association
o Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation and chairman, United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance
o Jon Scholl, president, American Farmland Trust
o Dan Glickman, senior fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Secretary (1995-2001)
o Pamela Bailey, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association (tentative)
2:15 to 3:15 p.m. EDT: "The Future of Agriculture"
Discussion Overview: Farming, ranching and sustainability - is it getting better or worse? This panel will review sustainable practices in farming and ranching. Panelists also will explain the various types of farming and ranching from conventional to organic, natural and free range. The discussion also will explore local farming as an alternative to conventional farming in the U.S., weighing the pros and cons of each. Additional topics will include a focus on agriculture education, discussing what students today are learning about sustainable agriculture and the vision for the future.
Location: Robert Mondavi Institute at University of California Davis/Davis, Calif.
• Moderator: Jane Wells, CNBC
o Eric Benson, president, JS West
o Michael Dimock, president, Roots of Change
o Dr. Neal Van Alfen, dean, UC Davis School of Agriculture
o Stuart Woolf, president, Woolf Farming
o Rick Stott, executive vice president, Agri Beef Co.
3:15 to 4:15 p.m. EDT: "From Farms and Ranches to Menus and Check-out Counters"
Discussion Overview: The New York panel will focus on retaining consumer choices in what they eat and what they pay. The panel will explore consumers' need for information at the point of purchase (labeling, restaurant ratings, calories, etc), as well as the safety and health issues related to consumer decision-making and choices. Additionally, panelists will discuss the variety of sizes and forms of farming and ranching and its impact on consumer choices made at the checkout counter or when ordering from the menu.
Location: Chelsea Studios/New York, New York
• Moderator: Chef John Besh
o Bart Schott, president, National Corn Growers Assoc.
o Dr. Lynn Silver, director of Science and Policy, New York City Dept. of Health
o Sarah Murray, author, "Moveable Feasts"
o Patricia Cobe, senior editor, Restaurant Business Magazine
o Dr. Pamela Ronald, professor, Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis (tentative)
USFRA is a coalition of more than 50 national, regional and state agricultural groups and their partners. The Alliance marks the first time a wide range of agricultural groups are collaborating to lead the dialogue on how food is grown and raised in America. Through conversation, USFRA will emphasize the many new and beneficial changes farmers and ranchers are using to improve the quality of our food and planet, while also demonstrating the agricultural community's commitment to continuous improvement. The Food Dialogues Town Hall and media advisory are wholly or partially funded by one or more Checkoff programs.