Nationally known author and farmer Daniel Imhoff joins other farmers and experts to explore the disconnect in our food system and how to begin to create a fair playing field for sustainable livestock farmers in the discussion, Less=More: Restoring the Balance to Our Food System. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP by Mar. 18 to firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-493-2384.
Most industrial livestock ‘farms’ operate like a factory and confine animals in warehouses or crowded feedlots with no vegetation. Although they generate millions of gallons of waste, these facilities receive substantial taxpayer subsidies even when they pollute the water, air and land through poor disposal of that waste, violating state and federal environmental laws. Meanwhile, farmers with good practices that produce healthy, clean food and don’t harm our natural resources struggle to survive.
Less=More: Restoring the Balance to Our Food System will look at the economic, environmental and health impacts of polluting livestock factories and how taxpayer subsidies perpetuate their existence. The panel, hosted by a new sustainable agriculture coalition called Less=More, will also look at ways to address the unfair advantage these subsidies give factory farms over sustainable livestock farms, including recommendations from the coalition’s recently released report, Restoring the Balance to Michigan’s Farming Landscape, available at www.MoreforMichigan.org.
Daniel Imhoff, Co-founder of Watershed Media and an author and farmer—Imhoff will discuss the economics of factory farms and the Farm Bill. He is an author, publisher and small-scale farmer in California who has focused for more than 20 years on issues of food, agriculture and the environment. Co-founder of Watershed Media and Wild Farm Alliance, he has written many articles, essays, and books, including Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill; CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, and Farming with the Wild.
Gail Hansen, Senior Officer and Staff Veterinarian, Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, Pew Charitable Trusts—Hansen looks at the role factory farms play in antibiotic resistance and other health impacts. Hansen served as the state epidemiologist and state public health veterinarian for 12 years with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment where her work centered on infectious diseases and developing public health policy. Prior to that, she was a principal investigator and coordinator of blood borne pathogen studies at the Seattle and King County Department of Public Health. She has served on or chaired numerous state and federal infectious disease committees, served as a scientific advisor for national and international conferences and is adjunct faculty at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Joe Maxwell, President of Outreach and Engagement at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)—Maxwell examines the lives of animals and farmers in the factory farm system. He grew up on a family farm in the small town of Rush Hill, Mo., the son of a hard-working family farmer. In his role at The HSUS, he works directly with family farmers, helping them organize into producer groups to open direct markets for their own products. Maxwell is a former president of the Association of Family Farmers, an organization associated with the Agriculture of the Middle Project, and a member of the Organization for Competitive Markets and the Missouri Farmers Union.
Lynn Henning, Sierra Club Water Sentinel—Henning will discuss the relationship between environmental pollution and farm subsidies in Michigan. She received the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize for North America for more than a decade’s worth of work tracking environmental abuses at factory farms around her small family farm in south central Michigan. Her painstaking research is the basis of the Less=More report, Restoring the Balance to Michigan’s Farming Landscape. She’s been featured in O Magazine and the 2013 water documentary Last Call at the Oasis and appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher in 2012.
Maynard Beery, Beery Farms of Michigan-- Beery raises grass-fed beef and goats in Mason, MI and will give the perspective of a sustainable livestock farmer on how the lopsided subsidy system affects his ability to compete with industrial livestock operations. A former large-scale livestock confinement operator, he switched to humane, environmentally friendly farming more than a decade ago. He uses the Argentine grazing style of a diverse array of perennial grasses and summer-winter annuals to meet year-round forage needs of the animals, and his farm is in transition to organic certification.
The Less=More Coalition is a group of organizations engaged in various aspects of our food system who seek to level the farm field for sustainable farmers in Michigan. They include: Beery Farms of Michigan, LLC, the Center for Food Safety, Crane Dance Farm, LLC, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, Food & Water Watch, Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Groundswell Farm, Zeeland, The Humane Society of the United States, Michigan Farmers Union, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, Michigan Young Farmers Coalition, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. Learn more at www.MoreforMichigan.org.