Farmers, Fairness & the Farm Bill

where issues of producers, policy and equity converge

A Collaborative Research Project with Rural Coalition, National Family Farm Coalition & American University's School of International Service (Washington, DC)

Join us for our upcoming farm bill symposium on March 28 at american university in D.C.

Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Politics, and Potential

American University, School of International Service | March 28, 2017 - 8am-4pm

Please join us for a public symposium US Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Politics & Potential. This event will mark the first time that academics, civil society leaders, policy-makers, producers and the general public will be able to present and discuss original research both on and for the US Farm Bill, across and beyond disciplines. Participants will collectively identify research needs and gaps regarding the US Farm Bill, with the objective of increasing popular and scholarly understanding of--and engagement with--this complex legislation  and its cascade of impacts. Our goal is to expand the standard debate, which often dichotomizes constituents and oversimplifies key issues, while ignoring others. Instead, we wish to open up this pivotal policy to a wider array of dialogue and analyses, with an eye toward  how community-partnered research on and for the US Farm Bill can help inform, reform, and transform it.

Livestream and archived video of the symposium will be available at the Symposium's website, below.

Sponsored by the Berkeley Food Institute and the AU SIS Global Environmental Politics Program

Please contact with any questions.


Kathleen Merrigan is former USDA Deputy Secretary and currently Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she leads the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. Kathleen also serves as a Co-Chair for AGree, Board Director for the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and FoodCorps, member of the Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Fund Advisory Committee, Senior Advisor at the Kendall Foundation, and steering committee member of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme led initiative TEEB for Agriculture & Food. 

Selected Publications:

  • Co-author of "Beyond interdisciplinary: how sustainability creates opportunities for pan-university efforts" in Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

  • Co-author of "Designing a sustainable diet" in Science

Ben Burkett is president of the National Family Farms Coalition (NFFC) and current director of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, the local arm of The Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Ben is a farmer and community activist. Ben represents NFFC on La Via Campesina Food Sovereignty Commission and is a board member of the Community Food Security Coalition.

Janie Simms Hipp is the Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and visiting professor of law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Prior to joining the law school, she was the senior adviser for tribal relations to Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is the founder of the USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations in the Office of the Secretary and served two terms on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.

Selected Publications:

Molly D. Anderson is organizing a program in Food Studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she teaches about hunger and food security, fixing food systems, and sustainability. She participates in the regional Food Solutions New England network and the national Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture & Sustainability, and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). She was a Coordinating Lead Author on the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science & Technology for Development (IAASTD) and served on the Board of the Community Food Security Coalition for 6 years.

Selected Publications:

  • "Roles of Rural Areas" in Sustainable Food System Transformations in Development

  • "The role of knowledge in building food security resilience across food system domains" in Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Harwood Schaffer is a research assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center where he focuses on US and international agricultural and food policy.

Selected Publications:

  • Co-author of “Profiling H-2A Program Participants in Tobacco Farming: Implications for Extension” in Journal of Extension; “The Assumption of Non-coerciveness and the Total Food Market” in International Journal of Agriculture Innovations and Research

  • Co-author of the chapter “Toward a Pro-Middle Farm Policy: What Will It Take To Ensure a Promising Future for Family Farming?”in the collection In Food and the Mid-Level Farm

Dan Imhoff is a researcher, author, and independent publisher who has concentrated for over 20 years on issues related to farming, the environment, and design. Dan is the author of multiple books about the food system, including Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill and CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, (winner of the Nautilus 2011 Gold Prize for Investigative Reporting). He is the president and co-founder of Watershed Media, a non-profit publishing house based in Healdsburg, California, and president and a co-founder of the Wild Farm Alliance, a ten-year-old national organization that works to promote agriculture systems that support and accommodate wild nature.

Carl Zulauf is a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at The Ohio State University. Dr. Zulauf’s areas of specialization are commercial agricultural policy and commodity futures and options markets. In 2008, Zulauf made a significant contribution to the farm policy debate by offering to policymakers a conceptual framework that became the basis for the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, which was crafted into legislation and introduced to the 2008 Farm Bill debate by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois.

Selected Publications:

Michael Kotutwa Johnson is a PhD Candidate in the University of Arizona’s School of Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment. He is a member of the Hopi Tribe and also a traditional Hopi dryland farmer. His experience in planting Hopi heirloom varieties and then tending to his crops gives him a unique perspective on how he looks at natural resource conservation and subsequent nutrient, soil and water management issues found in Hopi cropping systems. 

Selected Publications:

  •  Working paper - “Aspects of Ecohydrological Principles/Processes as it Relates to Hopi Dry Land Farming Practices”

Callie Eideberg works at the Environmental Defense Fund as a Senior Policy Manager on Ecosystems Sustainable Agriculture. Callie leads the formation and implementation of sustainable agriculture policy on the federal level, working with the Administration, federal agencies, and both the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

Selected Publications:

Ferd Hoefner is at National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition as the Senior Strategic Advisor. Ferd is a founding staff member of NSAC and has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture community for over 30 years. Prior to his work with NSAC, for nearly a decade he represented Interfaith Action for Economic Justice and its predecessor, the Interreligious Taskforce on U.S. Food Policy, on federal farm, food, and development policy. He has consulted with many NGOs and has served on numerous USDA advisory committees.

Selected Publications:

Gerardo Otero is professor of International Studies and Sociology at Simon Fraser University. He has also taught at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, the Autonomous University of Puebla, the University of Guadalajara and Tulane University. In Fall 2014, Otero was the Tinker Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, housed in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. Dr. Otero has published more than 100 scholarly articles, chapters and books 

Selected Publications:

  • Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America

Stephanie Mercier is Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Farm Journal Foundation. Dr. Stephanie Mercier expands the Foundation's partnership network, provides policy analysis, and leads the Foundation's Farm Team program. Previously, Stephanie has served in the position of chief economist for the Democratic staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee and as team leader for the Trade Policy and Programs area of the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as an independent agricultural policy consultant on projects in the areas of domestic farm and risk management programs, environmental policy, federal agricultural budgets, domestic nutrition assistance programs, and international food security and agricultural development policy.
Recent Publications at

  • "Straight From D.C.: Issues Leading to the Next Farm Bill"

  • "Straight From D.C: China's Mixed Messages on U.S. Corn Imports"

  • "Straight From D.C.: Where Do Clinton, Trump Land on Ag Issues?"

Karen Hansen-Kuhn works on policy, trade, and economic justice at Institute for Agriculture and Trade. She has published articles on U.S. trade and agriculture policies, the impacts of U.S. biofuels policies on food security, and women and food crises. She was the international coordinator of the Alliance for Responsible Trade (ART), a U.S. multisectoral coalition promoting just and sustainable trade, until 2005. After that, she was policy director at the U.S. office of ActionAid, an international development organization.

Selected Publications:

Julian Baer is the Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition on Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee in early 2013. His issue portfolio includes nutrition, horticulture, and specialty crops. Prior to joining the Committee, Julian spent over 12 years working in agriculture, food, and nutrition policy. He previously held positions at OFW Law, FoodMinds LLC, the Food Marketing Institute, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives. During his time at Education and the Workforce, he worked on the 2004 reauthorization of the child nutrition programs.

LaDonna Redmond is a food justice activist that is currently the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis. She staffed the food and justice program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and is co-founder and president of Graffiti and Grub, a grocery store for the hip-hop generation. She was also a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow, named Responsibility Pioneer in 2009 by Time Magazine, and was awarded the Green for All Fellowship in 2007. 
TED Talks:

Audrey Rowe is the former administrator of USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). While Deputy Administrator for Special Nutrition Programs at FNS, she leas the effort to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation. Previously she has served as Senior Vice President and Managing Director for the Children and Family Services division for Affiliated Computer Service (ACS). In this capacity, she spearheaded industry leadership in the realms of child support payment processing and enforcement and the electronic dissemination of public assistance benefits, including implementing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) programs in over 20 states.

Selected Publications:

  • “The Feminization of Poverty: An Issue for the90's” in Yale University Journal of Law and Feminism

  • Editor of The State of Black America, 1991, "To Be Equal," National Urban League

Jessica Felix-Romero is the Director of Communications & Insights at Farmworker Justice. Jessica has PhD from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on permaculture as a peacebuilding tool in post-conflict El Salvador. 

  • Co-author of "Food Justice: Combating Racism in the Agricultural System" published in Liberal Education

Bob Martin is the Program Director of the Food System Policy Program at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and is also a senior lecturer at the university's Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. As Program Director, he ensures that the program takes a coordinated approach to research and policy while optimizing partnerships with colleagues at other organizations. Previously he worked at Pew Research Center with the Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production to publish eight technical reports and one seminal report entitled "Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America.

Patty Lovera is the Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch where she coordinates the food team. Patty has a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Lehigh University and a master's degree in environmental policy from the University of Michigan. Before joining Food & Water Watch, Patty was the deputy director of the energy and environment program at Public Citizen and a researcher at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

Lorette Picciano has served as Executive Director of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, a Washington, DC-based alliance of more than 70 culturally diverse community based organizations representing small producers and farmworkers in the US and Mexico, since 1992. She works with the RC's diverse Board and members to promote just and sustainable development in rural areas. In the 2008 Farm Bill debate, she coordinated Farm and Food Policy Diversity Initiative, a collaboration of almost a dozen organizations representing socially disadvantaged producers and farmworkers in a unified effort to assure equal access to the programs of the US Department of Agriculture for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers. As a result the initiative, more than 30 sections of new policy were included in the farm bill to benefit socially disadvantaged producers.She also serves on the Boards of Directors of Agriculture Missions, Inc., and the emerging Solidarity Economy Network, and on the Steering Committee of the USDA National Small Farms Conference. 

Tracy McCurty is the executive director of Black Belt Justice Coalition. Tracy is a mother, activist, and attorney with over ten years of experience working on a range of legal issues disparately impacting the African Diaspora community. However, her most cherished work has been in service of multigenerational African American farm families and cooperatives living on the land in the rural South. Recently, Tracy worked closely with the Community Farming Alliance, a D.C.-based agricultural cooperative comprised of women and people of color farmers, to fortify the language included in the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014. Moreover, Tracy is working with the newly formed Cooperation DC to develop the necessary legal resources and networks to support worker-owned cooperatives in D.C. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Conference of Black Lawyers. She is licensed to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Georgia.

Rudy Arredondo has been the leading visionary for the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Association for over 13 years. Rudy has spent his lifetime defending the rights of Latinos around the United States. A highly motivated bilingual problem solver and advocate with a lifetime career in civil, human, labor, immigration, and health care rights. Throughout his 24 years in Washington, D.C., he has successfully managed millions of dollars in public project funds and has worked with League of United Latin American Citizens, the Department of Agriculture, Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance amongst others. 

Sam Farr is a former Democratic member of the U.S. House representing California's 20th Congressional District. Farr served in the House from 1993 to 2017. Prior to his career in the U.S. House, Farr served in the California State Assembly from 1980 to 1993. Farr joined the Peace Corps in 1964 and served for two years as a volunteer in Colombia. He served as the ranking member of the House’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies from 2011 to 2016.

Yao Afantchao works at the University of DC as the Ethnic Crop Development Specialist with the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) and coordinates the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research Education program. He advises food producers and residents on how to grow and cook a variety of healthy and flavorful international crops. He also introduces commercial growers to the expanding high-value marketing opportunities for ethnic produce and alternative crops in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Carolyn Dimitri is an applied economist at New York University, an Associate Editor of the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, and a member of the scientific board of the Organic Center. A common thread throughout her research is the role of governmental and private institutions in facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers, including how food labels transmit unobservable information about product quality to buyers and how policies support farmer income and consumer health. Dr. Dimitri is widely recognized as the leading US expert in the procurement and marketing of organic food, and has published extensively on the distribution, processing, retailing, and consumption of organic food. Her paper "Organic food consumers: What do we really know about them?" received a commendable paper award from the British Food Journal in 2013. 

  • Co-author of "Linking Farmers, Healthy Foods, and Underserved Consumers: Exploring the Impact of Nutrition Incentive Programs on Farmers and Farmers' Markets" in Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

  • Co-author in "Urban agriculture: Connecting producers with consumers" in British Food Journal

Jeremiah Lowery is Campaign Director at Universal Childcare NOW DC Coalition and is an appointee to the DC Food Policy Council. Jerimiah has over 6 years of experience working in under-served communities in the Washington, DC area. His project range from writing business plans for business development centers, writing grants with AARP to bring attention to inter-generational approaches that end senior hunger, and working on education policy for the Washington, D.C. city council. Jerimiah was named one of Elevation D.C. Magazine's 50 under 50 Food Heroes. 

Bill Wenzel is the director of the Food and Farming Program at U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). He works with both the U.S. PIRG and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund to advance program goals and objectives. Bill is a 1981 graduate of the Hamline University School of Law and has worked extensively on state and federal policy development and advocacy on a wide variety of agriculture, environmental and food issues in collaboration with farm, food, consumer and environmental groups and organizations. Many of the policy successes were the result of grassroots organizing efforts driven by broad collaborations of partners and allies. He has also worked as Chief of Staff for two Wisconsin State Senators and served as Staff Director for the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environmental Resources.

A Collaborative Research Project with Rural Coalition,  National Family Farm Coalition & American University's School of International Service (Washington, DC)