Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be There: Farm and Food Leadership Conference

Why is excitement building for the 6th Annual Farm and Ranch Leadership Conference to convene at the Bastrop Convention Center southeast of Austin, September 10 and 11?

The 6th Annual Farm and Food Leadership Conference brings home to Central Texas the impact and opportunities surrounding hot topics

“For too many years, agricultural and food policy in this country has been made by and for the large corporations,” explains Judith McGeary, FARFA executive director, who is also an attorney and sustainable farmer. “One of the reasons we founded FARFA was to address the threat these policies pose to the ability of family farmers to survive. This conference is an important part of empowering people, both farmers and consumers, to become advocates for local foods and family farms.”

This year’s conference keynote speaker Michael Olson, author of MetroFarm (Ben Franklin Book of the Year finalist) and executive producer and host of the syndicated Food Chain Radio talk show, will explain how individuals can “eat their way to economic and personal freedom” by taking the 2x2 Pledge.

Other speakers include Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch covering the latest news on the Farm Bill, Howard Vlieger of Verity Farms speaking about the problems with genetically engineered foods, and sustainable farmers and chefs discussing what “local” means. The first day’s sessions cover issues such as animal welfare, seafood and our coastal waters, health freedom, and local food initiatives. The second day of the conference features in-depth workshops on activism and how individuals can be effective in impacting the policies that govern our agricultural and food systems.

FARFA’s involvement in training activists has yielded effective results in the past. During the last legislative session, about 80 people from all over Texas attended the Citizens Lobbying Day in Austin to talk with legislators about issues for local farms and local foods. In May 2010, twice the number of people attended legislative hearings on cottage foods and raw milk bills. Ultimately, the cottage foods bill passed the Texas Legislature as SB 81, while the raw milk bill gained significant support from 24 co-sponsoring legislators.

For more information about conference speakers and topics, registration, and volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.farmandranchfreedom.org/conference-2012

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