Community Conversation: Big Ag in Organics


MP3 download of workshop audio from MOSES 2018.

Friday Session III

The organic community is at a crossroads. What began as a grassroots movement is now a multi-billion-dollar industry, catching the attention of the biggest players in the food industry. As big ag moves into organics, do we turn our backs to stay true to our principles or take a seat at the table to guide them? Big $ comes with big ag—do we access that to fund much-needed research and education? Where do we draw the line?

Elizabeth Dunbar is a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio News. A University of Minnesota graduate, she is currently working on the Feeding the Future Project on the future of Midwest agriculture in a changing climate. She lives in St. Paul.

John-Paul Franks owns Oak Ridge Farms, a 140-acre organic farm in central Indiana. He grew up on an organic farm, raising cattle, grains, hay, and small animals. He currently specializes in organic grains.

Rodrigo Cala owns Cala Farm, LLC, an organic vegetable farm in Turtle Lake, Wis. He is also a trainer for the Latino Economic Development Center, and is co-president of Shared Ground Farmers Co-op, a farmer-owned marketing cooperative in the Twin Cities.

Liz Haywood is the CEO of the People’s Food Co-op, which has locations in Rochester, Minn. and La Crosse, Wis. She has been a leader through times of increasing competition in the food industry.

Mariann Holm and her husband own a small farm in west-central Wisconsin. Mariann’s work as an organic crop and livestock inspector allows her the opportunity to see a diverse range of organic farms.

Harry Bennett owned and operated a small organic farm in central Kansas for 35 years. He is currently the Market Coordinator for the Kansas Organic Producers Association, a farmer-owned and -operated cooperative. KOPA is a founding member of OFARM. Harry lives in Madison, Wis. with his wife Margie.