Conference Program


10th Annual Farm and Food Leadership Conference

Feeding Ourselves and Our Country – Now and in the Future

September 25-27, 2016 | Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center | Bastrop, Texas


General Info | Registration | Lodging & Directions | Speakers | Exhibitors & Demonstrations

Conference Sponsors | Silent Auction | Volunteering & Scholarships | Film Screening


Conference Program

Sunday, September 25, 2016: Pre-Conference Workshops

Full-day workshops on produce safety, forming co-operatives, and productive & profitable eco-farming.  Please scroll down for more information. 

Monday, September 26, 2016 (Note: Times remain subject to change.)

8:45-9 a.m.


9-10 a.m.

Track 1. The Flavor of Living: For Those Who Are Hungry for More out of Life and Work 

Track 2. DC Update:Free Trade, the Farm Bill, and More. 


Track 1. Growing Food at Home: Backyard Gardening for Abundant Food Production & Health 

Track 2. Profit Plus Integrity: Building a Robust Local & Sustainable Food System

Noon-1:30 p.m.

Keynote Address | Dr. John Ikerd | Lunch

1:30-3 p.m.

Track 1. Sustainable Sourcing at Retailers and Restaurants 

Track 2. The Future of Water in Texas & Its Impact on Agriculture

3-5 p.m.

Track 1. Nutrition & Health: Making Sense of the Options 

Track 2. Grassroots Activism: Organizing for Change

5-6 p.m.

Social Hour Plus Cooking Demonstration (Sandra Lewis) & Beekeeping Demonstration (John Swan/Wicked Bee)

6-7 p.m.

Documentary Screening | “Written on Water: A Modern Tale of a Dry West”

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 (Note: Times Remain Subject to Change.)

9-10:30 a.m.

Track 1. The True Cost of Food: Why Should You Bother?

Track 2. Farm Financials: Government Programs & Private Funding Options

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Track 1. The Facts and Myths of Food Waste and Abundance

Track 2. The Latest on GMOs

12:30-1:30 p.m.


1:30-2:30 p.m.

Track 1. Industrial Agriculture: Sustaining the Unsustainable 

Track 2. Food Freedom & the Upcoming Texas Legislative Session

3-4:30 p.m.

Track 1. Hunting and Foraging for Your Own Table 

Track 2. The Missing Piece: Local, Sustainable Grains

Check out the speakers’ bios here.

Pre-Conference Workshops | Sunday, September 25, 2016

On-Farm Food Safety for Produce Growers. Led by Coleen Thornton.

The new regulatory and legal environment make it imperative that food safety become part of our daily lives. Find out how you can smooth the transition to regulatory and third-party audit compliance, deal with auditors, and make food safety part of growing your business. Coleen Thornton, GLOBALG.A.P. Food Safety Auditor, farm food safety consultant, and farmer, will provide the “why and how” of managing your risk assessment, food safety standard operating procedures, and documentation.

During the morning session, you’ll get the information you need in order to review your farm’s risks. During the afternoon, you will build on the morning’s knowledge to develop your own food safety policies, procedures, and documentation processes to take home and put to work, reducing your business’s product liability risks. Emphasis will be on ways to meet regulation and third-party scheme compliance within your normal work flow, keeping documentation easy and convenient (so that it gets done), and developing processes that will get you through an audit, with as little disruption to your business as possible.

How to Form a Successful Cooperative. Led by Annelies Lottmann.

The business of farming and ranching can be deeply rewarding, but it also brings unique and sometimes daunting challenges. You don’t have to go it alone! By cooperating with your fellow agricultural producers, you can increase your chances of successful start-up and long-term resilience. Whether you’re looking to formally incorporate a cooperative business or just gain some tools to work together more effectively with neighboring farms, this full-day workshop will help you build the skills you need.

Participants should expect to gain proficiency in: the cooperative business model and how cooperatives incorporate here in Texas; creating a business plan; accessing capital for start-up and growth; and simple effective strategies to help independent entrepreneurs work together. Participants will also have an opportunity to explore their own ideas for collaborative business – and perhaps discover new collaborators – in a peer group.

Productive & Profitable Eco-Farming. Led by Steve Diver, Howard Vlieger, Don Davis, and Ron Freeman.

Spend the morning learning about regenerative agriculture. You can focus on crops (led by Steve Diver) or livestock production (led by Howard Vlieger and Don Davis). In the livestock session, you will learn about soil health, animal health & nutrition, rotational grazing, and the places that it’s worth spending money on livestock production. The session will include information on both 100% grass-fed and grain-supplemented operations, both small and large.

Spend the afternoon learning about marketing from 5th-generation rancher Ron Freeman, sharing the program that has been successful for his ranch. Learn to market a way of life, not just simply a product. Guest speaker Alan Lewis of Natural Grocers will discuss specific issues when marketing to grocery stores.