Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Monday, September 1, 2014

USDA OAO Office of Advocacy and Outreach Cooperators Meeting Report, September 27, 2010, St. Louis Missouri

Here is my report from the 2010 USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach Cooperators Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on Monday, September 27, 2010, The Office has informed that there will be another national meeting this year. The office is also holding regular teleconferences with cooperators currently. Please contact Marilou Flores at for more information.

2010 USDA OAO Cooperators Meeting
St. Louis, MO
September 27, 2011

Town Hall Meeting

Moderated by Ralph Otto, PhD, Deputy Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Edward Avalos, Under Secretary, Marketing and Regulatory Programs
 Former Farmer from New Mexico

Dallas Tonsager, Under Secretary, Rural Development
 Former Dairy, Small-Grain Farmer
 Over 40 programs delivered throughout country
 Rural Housing Areas, Public Facilities, Rural Utilities Service, Rural Business and Cooperative Service

Ann Burtuska, Ph.D, Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education and Environment
 Four agencies: Agricultural Research Service, Extension Service, Economic Research Service, National Agriculture Statistics Service
 Deliver the science to support USDA programs. Research includes: Nutrition, bioresearch, conservation, and urban ecosystems.

Ann Mills, Deputy Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment
 Focused on conservation.
 US Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service. Impacts over $1 Billion acres of land.
 All lands approach to conservation (Secretary Vilsack’s vision)

Lisa Pino, Deputy Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service (SNAP)
 Two areas: Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (manages food pyramid and dietary guidelines, Food and Nutrition Service (manages all 15 food/nutrition assistance programs throughout country (i.e., WIC, DIPER for American Indians on reservations).
 1 out of 4 is touched by nutrition assistance programs. SNAP has grown at unprecedented rate (41 million participants).

Michael Scuse, Deputy Under Secretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services
 Lifelong Farmer
 Areas: Crop Insurance Program, Foreign Agricultural Service

Robin Heard, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration
 Oversee Human Resources, IT Technology, Outreach and Civil Rights Activities
 Subquestions:
How can we best take advantage of emerging tools in agriculture?
How can we best support socially disadvantaged and limited resource producers for regional food supply?
How can we support direct to community food supply?
As farmer population ages, how can we meet the goal of 100,000 new farmers a year?

Community Feedback/Q & A

1. Comments and thoughts on most critical rural development needs in your community?
2. What are the most critical issues facing famers and ranchers in your community?
3. What specific steps should USDA take to improve outreach in your community?
4. Tell USDA effectiveness of grant process on your community?
5. What can USDA do to support small farmers in the development of regional food systems?
6. In order for new and beginning producers to be successful enterprises what type of support do you need from CBOs and USDA?
7. What are the most critical issues that should be addressed in next Farm Bill?
8. What do we need to do collectively to be ready for this Farm Bill? How can we assist each other?

9. What is the Obama Administration going to do about the Black Farmers Lawsuits? If you want $100,000 new farmers a year, USDA needs to take care of existing farmers (resolve all outstanding USDA class action lawsuits).

10. HBCUs and CBOs need to have a meeting with USDA to work out interagency agreements to obtain concrete follow-up to various programs.

11. State recognized tribes are not given the same respect as federally recognized tribes.

12. Indian country needs access and outreach to USDA programs. All of the programs are needed as a package instead individual program.

13. USDA needs to consult with Rural Coalition and Federation of Southern Cooperatives ACT Report regarding the “best” of the ACT recommendations.

14. Program in Boise, IA that assists refugee farmers (i.e., particularly Somalian farmers). Recipient of Farmers Market Promotion Program. Would like to see more assistance with nutrition assistance and school lunch programs.

15. On the east coast it is near impossible to purchase farmland because the land is purchased by developers and turned into urban sprawl.

16. Ms. Mack (farmer from Kentucky). Tobacco farmer. KY is experiencing a drought and the cows do not have hay to eat. 32 Farmers in her organization. Need assistance in raising meat.

17. Minnesota Food Association. Farmers need access to land, access to markets (direct and wholesale), relevant technology, access to capital. Food Safety legislation should support small farmers not agribusiness. More funds in next Farm Bill for grant proposal support for CBOs. Maintain the integrity of organic certification (no GMOs).

18. Small farmers need a fair price for their produce. Small farmers get about the same price for produce today that they received 40 years ago. Oats/$2 a bushel. Sold to the public for $8-9/bushel. Farmers need a fair price.

19. Somalian farmers need access to markets. A lot of food is donated to food banks. Don’t sell well because of language barriers. Don’t have money to hire agricultural laborers to assist with planting and harvesting. Need transportation and credit support.

20. Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. Work with a lot of small farms who would like to identify processors that will work with small farms. Need grants for slaughter houses.

21. Terrance Bell working with farmers in OK. Public funding for windmill energy. Windmill implementation farmers are asked to mortgage farmers.

22. CA farmers should eliminate subsidies. Importance of pushing 21st Century technology.

23. Hmong poultry farmers from Arkansas. Grant programs too difficult for new organizations.

24. Market is controlled by corporate farming (poultry industry controls prices). Buy low, sell high. Latino farmers in Midwest have been discriminated against and USDA has admitted but has the same loan officers making the loans to these farmers.

25. Apache Indian Nation. Told to go back to tribal council. American Indians do not have the right to collateralize anything. Indian Country owns 1/3 of country’s energy resources. USDA needs to educate leaders of Indian Nation that individuals have a right to develop own lands and not necessarily go through tribal council.

26. Requirements on beginning farmers are too stringent. Need a fair and equal settlement in Garcia USDA class action lawsuit.

27. Virgin Island farmers do not have ready access to USDA programs. Need more workshops on development of agriculture. St. Thomas extremely hilly, farmers need more funding for human power. More programs to get youth involved in programs. We Grow Food Inc.
Contact: J. Koniyah Pembertion (Secretary). P.O. Box 7291, St. Thomas, USVI 00801. Email

28. Brooklyn, NY. How can we challenge rural and urban youth regarding agricultural sensibilities? How are you going to change the institutional and individual racism embedded in USDA? Charter school development for agricultural development.

29. In indigenous cultures, seed is sacred. In New Mexico, Pueblo council wants to ban GMO seed from native lands in New Mexico. How can we assist native communities in enforcing ban on GMOs? Danger of cross-pollination with GMO seed.

Conference Luncheon: Honorable Bennie Thompson. Mississippi

General Session: USDA Missions: Equity and Access to USDA Programs
Quentin Robinson, Director, USDA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

Panelists: Same as Earlier

Concurrent Breakout Sessions:
1. Agricultural Marketing
2. Renewable Energy Development Panel Discussion: Building Waelth from Biofuels
3. New And Beginning Farmer and Rancher Panel
4. Cost share Options for Small Farmers

Tuesday, September 28th

USDA Strike Force Initiative
Karris Gutter, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, USDA
 Focus on communities experiencing persistent poverty and utilize all of USDA resources to address these inequities (MS, AK, GA). USDA will conduct community focus groups.
 Plans to work with 2501 and Extension partners and create an academy that walks folks through the USDA process and programs.
 2501 work will be tied into the work of USDA. Will give 2501 partners training on new and existing USDA programs.
 Strike Force Initiative programs will roll out next week.
 Community Feedback
o Pilots should have been implemented in different areas of the country.
o CBOs should be number one concern with respect to educating communities on access to USDA programs.
o USDA is identifying existing CBOs that are located in communities of persistent poverty (affiliated with rural development and farming enterprises).

Plenary Session 2012 Farm Bill Discussion and Analysis
Moderator: Percy Williams

 Three main challenges: (1) We need 100,000 new farmers each year
(2) Framework for incorporating attendees ideas into the next Farm Bill (3) Don’t let the work the end here (continue to agitate Congressional representatives)
 Passage of the Farm Bill is not the final step of the Farm Bill.
 Pots of mandatory money in Farm Bill. Most other committees only have authorization authority. WIC and Food Stamps have been historically mandatory funding program. Now Energy, 2501 and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers all have mandatory funding baselines. Unfortunately, some of the small programs do not have baseline (has money in it).
 Senator Lincoln trying to pass ad hoc disaster assistance legislation. Trying to expand universe of crop insurance programs.
 37 programs in 2008 had mandatory funding will not have baselines in 2012 Farm Bill.
 National Agricultural Law Center website is a useful resource.
 Community Feedback
o Dwindling funding for extension service programs (use to receive priority funding). Cooperative extension needs more funding. Resource Development Councils (RDC) should be officially designated (few minorities are on these councils). RDC needs funding and communities need to benefit from RDC.
o Hartfort, TX: 2012 Farm Bill should look beyond Washington, DC and look at CBOs outside of Washington, DC. Create a “community” outside of the usually suspects. One CBO does not represent all CBOs---some represent the “salt of the Earth people”.
o Reconsider the time frame of Cooperators Meeting. Alternatives evenings and weekends.
o Nebraska University: Rural Communities are dying. 16% of country is rural. 45% of military come from rural communities. Need to develop programs to assist veterans in transitioning into successful farming enterprises.
o Black Farmers from Kentucky want support/resources for tobacco production. Find other markets/uses for tobacco.
o American Indians wants to be on some of the USDA councils in order to have equitable representation.
o Need listening sessions throughout the regions.
o Need to deal with immigration issue. A lot of undocumented workers are working the land and these farmers need resources to stay on the land.

Minority Participation on USDA Boards and Commissions
Moderator: Janie Hipp, Esq., Senior Advisor to the Secretary, USDA Tribal Council liaison
 USDA has over 203 boards and committees
 Committees: Forest Service, AMS, FAS, APHIS, (ARS, Civil Rights, CNPP, FNS, FSA, FSIS, GIPSA, NASS, NRCS, OSEC, RMA)
 Provide recommendations to Secretary, influence local and national agriculture policy
 Complete list can be found at
 Many of these appointees are political appointments.

Statute of Limitations Program, Complaints and Class Action Law Suit Settlement Status
Moderator: Bobbi Jeanquart, Chief of Staff Departmental Management
 Larry Brown, Jackson-Lewis Law Office. Law Office conducting Civil Rights Independence Assessment.
o Senior Leadership Oversight Team: Weldon Latham, Bob Nash, Larry Mitchell, Alvin Brown, Misti Mukherjee, Micheal Hatcher, John Bryson
o Working on this since last year. Now doing field work with USDA personnel.
o Conducted 100s of interviews with USDA personnel.
o Next phase: speaking with customers. Focus groups will be conducted in 10 states.
o At conclusion of all of the work, a report will be prepared. Report will be submitted to the Department.
 Pigford
o Congressman Bennie Thompson(MS): Waiting for Congress to appropriate funding.
 Keepseagle
o Trying to resolve all Civil Rights law suits
 Lloyd Wright, Special Advisor to the Secretary
o USDA had not processed program complaints. Secretary of Agriculture requested Lloyd Wright to return to USDA to deal with civil rights complaints.
o Started a review of what had occurred over the last 8 years. 2009 only 19 staff in Office of Civil Rights. During 8 years of Bush, 1 out of 14,000 complaints only one finding of discrimination (didn’t settle that one. Took 4 years, 2 years SOL).
o Regan and 1st Bush Administration eliminated the Office of Civil Rights. Eliminated the 14 investigators.
o Statute of limitations restored from 1998 to 1996.
o Task Force created (included 54 people). Looked at 14,000 complaints. Took 53 people and found 7,000 complaints and didn’t have agency complaints.
o Determined that there were 3800 complaints that needed further investigation.
o 80% of complaints, SOL had expired on the complaint.
o Need a statute that will amend SOL similar to 1998. House has approved it twice, no vote in the Senate. Covers more recent incidents of discrimination.
 Oscar Gonzales, Deputy Director, Intergovernmental Affairs
o 1.33 billion that would allow for individuals who have pending cases against USDA with an option to participate in USDA programs. Partnership between USADA and Department of Justice.
o Held stakeholders meeting to let them know what was being proposed and obtain reactions from communities. Held meetings in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Texas for local community feedback.
o A Latino and Women Component.
 Janie Hipp
o Held a couple of community focus groups to address inequities of gender.
o Pigford: USDA and Department of Justice announced a settlement in February, waiting for funding.
o Asking for assistance and participation in outreach to Latino and women farmers and ranchers.
o Will be opening a call center.
o Office of Advocacy and Outreach telephone number: 202.720.6350. 800.880.4183.

Conference Luncheon: Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President for Programs, Food, Health and Well Being, WK Kellog Foundation. Excellent healing session and talked about all the grants that Kellogs is offering on racial healing and equity.

General Session: Cultural transition: Anita Hobbs. Ph D, Deputy Asiistant Secretary to Administration

Contact List:

1. OAO Call Center 202 720 6350 for complaints; Jamie, Women In agriculture Organization 202 890 1615, Oscar Gonzales Deputy Director, Intergovernmental Affairs. 202 720 6643
2. Mapy Alvarez, Executive Director, National Immigrant Farming Initative, 202 628 7160
1. Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation 870 734 1140
2. USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1890 Scholars Program—scholarships to US citizens who are seeking a bachelors degree at one of the 17 historically black colleges.
3. Small Business Administration
4. Farm Service Agency’s Rural Youth Loan Program
5. FSA –loans for farmers, help with financial planning, variety of financial services
6. Rural Business Cooperative Service of USDA Rural Development, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program guarantees loans made by eligible lenders to rural businesses in order to improve the economic climate of rural America.
7. USDA AgDiscovery, Outreach program to help teenagers learn about careers in plant and anima; science and wildlife management.
8. Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
9. Regulatory Science at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
10. Tuskegee University College of Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences Small Farmers Outreach and Technical Assistance Project.
11. Professional Agricultural Workers Conference Decemeber 5-7, 2010. Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama.
12. USDA Registry of Minority Farmers.
13. Farmer Veteran Coalition, ww,
14. USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grants (REAP) 573 876 0995
15. USDA Rural Development
16. Tilford Winery,
17. East Arkansas Enterprise Community, 870 630 2005
18. USDA Food and Nutrition Service,; Farm to School Website, Fknow your farmer, Know your food, Healthy Meals Resource Center, Farm to School and School Gardens
19. USDA Alternative Farming Systems Information Center,
20. USDA National Resources Conservation Service, Helping you Help Your land
21. National Wind,
22. Global Gardens, gardens
23. Robert J. Logwood Jr., Logwood Farms, Alysha Farms
24. Nebraska College of technical Agriculture
25. USDA Rural Development, Fiscal Year 2009 Project list. Funded Grants
26. Economic Research Service. Report. Local Food Systems: COmcepts, Impacts and Issues.

USDA Academies Demonstration Workshops

1. Natural Resource Conservation Service Programs
Rebekah De Wind, District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 517-278 2725 x 3/Help you manage your land.
Grants for:
• Environmental Improvement Programs
• Agriculture Management Assistance Program
• EQIP Environmental Quality Incentives Program
• Organic Program Initiative

• Wildlife Habitat User
• AWEP Agriculture Water Enhancement Program
• CCPI Cooperative Conservation Program Initiative

2. Rural Development Programs, Janie Dunning, Missouri State Director, USDA Rural Development,
3. Farm Service Agency Programs, Daniel Gieseke, Missouri Farm Service Agency, Michael Arnold, Missouri Farm Service Agency

1 comment:

  1. Yeah I know about this meeting. But I am really happy that you shared the details publically. Actually I am event planner and I arranged one of the most spacious meeting rooms for this conference.