Farming Our Future: Groundbreaking Conference Explores Future of Michigan Farming

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WHAT Farming Our Future: The Forces and Faces of 21st Century Agriculture
WHEN Monday, March 9, 2015, 9am‐4pm (registration opens 8am)
WHERE Kellogg Center Auditorium, 219 S. Harrison, East Lansing
ADMISSION $25 general; $20 students with school ID (admission includes lunch)
REGISTER http://tinyurl.com/FarmingOurFuture
MORE INFO http://michigan.sierraclub.org/calendar/LESS=MORE_Conference.html
CONTACT gail.philbin@sierraclub.org

A groundbreaking conference exploring the political, legal, and historical forces that shape farming in Michigan today and how to chart a path to a more sustainable food system takes place March 9, 2015 on the campus of Michigan State University during MSU’s historic Agriculture and Natural Resources Week.

Presented by the Less=More Coalition, Farming Our Future: The Forces and Faces of 21st Century Agriculture will channel diverse national, regional and local conversations about the environmental, economic and social impacts of modern agriculture into a comprehensive forum to facilitate joint efforts to build a better food system.

The event takes place from 9am‐4pm on Monday, March 9, at the Kellogg Center Auditorium, 219 S. Harrison, East Lansing. Admission is $25; $20 for students (with school ID). To register, visit: http://tinyurl.com/FarmingOurFuture.  For an agenda and more information about the conference, visit http://michigan.sierraclub.org/calendar/LESS=MORE_Conference.html

The conference will feature keynote addresses by Tim Gibbons, communications director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, and Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank in Chicago, and will bring together agricultural policy and legal experts, farmers, consumers and researchers in two panel discussions.

Gibbons will open the conference with the morning keynote, The Forces Shaping 21st Century Agriculture, which examines the past, present and potential future of farming and explores the role of the federal Farm Bill and other policies in creating the industrial food system we have today. Gibbons has led successful efforts in Missouri to shift Farm Bill subsidies from support of factory farm practices, which include systems to deal with the huge amounts of animal waste they generate, to those of sustainable livestock farmers. Pollution from agriculture has been blamed in part for toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie that last year contaminated drinking water used by residents in Toledo and southern Michigan.

Gibbons’ talk will be followed by a panel featuring Dr. M. Jahi Chappell, director of agroecology and agriculture policy at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to‐Consumer Legal Defense Fund; and Phil Howard, an associate professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability.

Nierenberg will present the afternoon keynote, The Faces of 21st Century Agriculture, about sustainable farming and emerging trends such as urban agriculture and non‐traditional farmers from the African American, Hispanic and veterans communities. She will also explore obstacles and opportunities for sustainable farmers today. Nierenberg is an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues who has written extensively on the spread of factory farming in the developing world and innovations in sustainable agriculture.

Nierenberg’s talk will be followed by a panel including Joe Maxwell, a hog farmer and vice president of outreach and engagement at The Humane Society of the United States; Michelle Jackson, a fourth‐generation African American urban farmer in Detroit; and Michael Vandenbrug, a sustainable farmer in West Michigan and agricultural operations director in the community outreach department of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.

Less=More is a sustainable agriculture coalition tackling the inequity of Farm Bill subsidies in Michigan that favor polluting factory farms over safe, sustainable livestock farms at the expense of the environment and public health. In 2013, the coalition released a report, Restoring the Balance to Michigan’s Farming Landscape, that explores the relationship between Farm Bill subsidies and factory farm pollution in Michigan. To download Restoring the Balance, visit: http://tinyurl.com/L‐Mreport.

Less=More is comprised of national, state and local organizations and farmers, including: Beery Farms of Michigan, the Center for Food Safety, Crane Dance Farm, ELFCO Food Cooperative, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, Food & Water Watch, Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Groundswell Farm, Humane Society of the United States, Michigan Small Farm Council, Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, Michigan Young Farmers Coalition, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project.

Less=More is made possible in part by support from the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation.

Less support for polluting factory farms means a more sustainable Michigan. For more information, visit, www.MoreforMichigan.org.

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