Help Support A Sustainable Dozen For Influential USDA Positions


Mark Ritchie, one of the dozen. Via Flickr by Laura Askelin

There was much excitement in the sustainable agriculture world that Barack Obama would appoint a truly progressive Secretary of Agriculture. Obama's nod to former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was met with mixed reviews. His support for biotech crops and ethanol production was met with screams of horror from the organic crowd, while others took a more balanced view and felt that Vilsack's support for the family farmer makes him a candidate worth supporting.

Since Vilsack's appointment the sustainable ag community has turned it's attention to promoting a "Sustainable Dozen" for, the possibly more influential, Under Secretary positions at the USDA. Read on for the list.
The campaign for the Sustainable Dozen is organizing under the banner of Food Democracy Now which is:

a grassroots movement initiated by farmers, writers, chefs, eaters and policy advocates who recognize the profound sense of urgency in creating a new food system that is capable of meeting the changing needs of American society as it relates to food, health, animal welfare and the environment.

Half of the list is comprised of people who were touted as possibilities for the Secretary of Agriculture position. All are leaders in the movement to create a more holistic and, dare I say, sustainable food system. The dozen are:

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.

Sign the petition at Food Democracy Now to support the Sustainable Dozen.

Tags: Agriculture | Farming | Genetic Engineering | GMO | Local Food

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