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 | Program

Sponsors & ExhibitorsSilent Auction | Volunteering & Scholarships


Conference Program

Sunday, September 25, 2016: Pre-Conference Workshops

Full-day workshops on produce safety, forming co-operatives, and productive & profitable eco-farming.  More information at the end of this page.

Monday, September 26 – Tuesday, September 27: Main Conference

Keynote Address | Monday, 9 a.m. | Dr. John Ikerd

Sessions will run on two parallel tracks. Check back soon for exact times.

  • Hunting and Foraging for Your Own Table
  • Growing Food at Home: Backyard Gardening for Abundant Food Production & Health
  • Sustainable Sourcing at Retailers and Restaurants
  • Nutrition & Health: Making Sense of the Options
  • The True Cost of Food: Why Should You Bother?
  • Industrial Agriculture: Sustaining the Unsustainable
  • The Flavor of Living: For Those Who Are Hungry for More out of Life and Work
  • The Facts and Myths of Food Waste and Abundance
  • The Future of Water in Texas & Its Impact on Agriculture
  • Profit Plus Integrity: Building a robust local & sustainable food system
  • The Basics of Grassroots Organizing & Citizen Lobbying
  • Farm Financials: Government programs & private funding options
  • The Latest on GMOs
  • Food Freedom & The Upcoming Texas Legislative Session
  • DC Update: Free Trade, the Farm Bill, and More
  • The Missing Piece: Local, Sustainable Grains

Check out the speakers’ bios here.

Social Hour & Special Demonstrations | Monday, 5 p.m.

Movie Night: “Written on Water: A Modern Tale of a Dry West” | Monday, 6 p.m.


Pre-Conference Workshops | Sunday, September 25, 2016

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

Food safety is one of the top issues for produce farmers today. Individual consumers, retailers, and schools are all asking questions about whether their food is safe. And for those farmers subject to the new FDA regulations under FSMA, the stakes are even higher.

Coleen Thornton is a certified food safety auditor who is also a small, diversified farmer herself. This full-day workshop will cover food safety steps that are practical for sustainable farmers, specifically including information on compliance with the new FSMA regulations.

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, Doug Havemann, 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 Doug Havemann). 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.

Activism: Organizing for Change. Led by Patty Lovera, Judith McGeary, and John Ikerd

Learn  how to organize effectively for change in our agricultural and food system.  Patty Lovera of Food & Water Watch  will teach the basics, from understanding where you need to be focused (local, state, or federal), getting enough people together, and how to make the ask.  John Ikerd will share his experiences at organizing at the local level to address CAFOs (feedlots), as a case example. And Judith McGeary will share her knowledge gained as executive director of both Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and the Council for Healthy Food Systems