The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Farmers/Ranchers Alliance launches 'Food Dialogues' campaign today with consecutive events

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be the headliner today when the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 national, regional and state agricultural groups and their partners, launches its campaign to create a better dialogue with consumers about how food is grown in the United States.

Vilsack will speak from a program at the Newseum in Washington, but events will be held throughout the country. Portions of the program are funded with money from checkoff programs that farmers and ranchers pay when they sell products.

The dialogues are based on surveys of the attitudes of consumers and farmers and ranchers toward food and how it is grown. NOTE: The survey material, highlighted below, was embargoed until 4 a.m. today.


Food Dialogues website: The four consecutive "town hall" events around the country will be broadcast online live between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT at
Facebook: Go to and register to attend. Those registering may invite others to join the discussion, host a “virtual viewing party," and participate in the live chat.
Twitter: Follow on Twitter@usfra


Noon-1:15 p.m. EDT
Fair Oaks Farm, Fair Oaks, Ind.

TOPICS: Animal care, antibiotic and hormone use, the economics of farming and ranching and the consumers' role in guiding farm and ranch decisions.
MODERATOR: Max Armstrong of Farm Progress
  • Malcolm DeKryger, vice president of Belstra Milling
  • Phil Bradshaw, vice chairman of the alliance
  • Casie Conley, Future Farmers of America Indiana state president
  • Mike McCloskey, president and owner of Fair Oaks Farm
  • Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture, Iowa State University

1:15-2:15 p.m. EDT
The Newseum, Washington, D.C.

TOPICS: Feeding a growing population while maintaining high standards for safety, quality and an abundant supply to ensure low food prices. Healthy food choices; tradeoffs between conventional, organic, local, and natural, production methods; impact of those methods on the domestic and international food supply.
EMCEE: Claire Shipman of ABC News
MODERATOR: Phil Lempert, food industry analyst
  • Tres Bailey, director of agriculture and good, Wal-Mart
  • Kathi Brock, director of strategic partnerships at the American Humane Association
  • Frank DiPasquale, CEO of the School Nutrition Association
  • Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and chairman, United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance
  • Jon Scholl, president of the Americn Farmland Trust
  • Dan Glickman, senior fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Agriculture secretary from 1995 to 2001
  • Tentative: Pamela Bailey, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association

2:15-3:15 p.m. EDT
Robert Mondavi Institute, University of California-Davis

TOPICS: Sustainable practices in farming and ranching; conventional to organic, natural and free range. Local farming as an alternative to conventional farming, with pros and cons of each. Agriculture education.
  • Eric Benson, president of JS West
  • Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change
  • Neal Van Alfen, dean of the University of California at Davis School of Agriculture
  • Stuart Woolf, president of Woolf Farming
  • Rick Stott, executive vice president of Agri Beef Co.

3:15-4:15 p.m. EDT
Chelsea Studios, New York City

TOPICS: Consumer choices — what they eat and what they pay. Consumers’ need for information at the point of purchase (labeling, restaurant ratings, calories, etc.); safety and health issues related to consumer decision-making. Also: Various sizes and forms of farming and ranching and their impact on consumer choices at checkout counter or when ordering from the menu.
MODERATOR: Chef John Besh
  • Bart Schott, president of the National Corn Growers Association
  • Lynn Silver, director of science and policy at the New York City Department of Health
  • Sarah Murray, author of “Moveable Feasts"
  • Patricia Cobe, senior editor, Restaurant Business Magazine
  • Tentative: Pamela Ronald, professor of plant pathology at the University of California at Davis.