February 5, 2015

Lake Erie’s Poisoned Water & Other Impacts of Modern Agriculture

March 9 Conference Explores How We Got Here and How to Move Forward
Less=More Coalition Convenes Experts, Farmers and Consumers during MSU Ag & Natural Resources Week

What:                    Farming Our Future: The Forces and Faces of 21st Century Agriculture
When:                  Monday, March 9, 2015, 9am4pm (registration opens 8am)
Where:                 Kellogg Center Auditorium, 219 S. Harrison, East Lansing
Admission:          $25 general; $20 students with school ID (admission includes lunch)
Register:              http://tinyurl.com/FarmingOurFuture
Questions:          gail.philbin@sierraclub.org

Lansing, MI— Last summer’s water crisis in Lake Erie still ripples in today's headlines. Fed by farm runoff, the toxic algal bloom that poisoned Toledo's water for two days inspired the recent announcement of the USDA’s $370 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program to help prevent waste and fertilizer runoff in Michigan and other states.  It also motivated  citizens’ groups and environmental advocates to push the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at its Jan. 21 meeting to toughen regulations in the state's water pollution permit for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which is currently under review.

Lake Erie’s health will also underscore everything discussed at Farming Our Future: The Forces and Faces of 21st Century Agriculture, a groundbreaking conference  March  9 at Michigan State University during MSU’s historic Agriculture and Natural Resources Week.  Presented by the sustainable agriculture Less=More Coalition, Farming Our Future will channel diverse national, regional and local conversations about the environmental, economic and social impacts of modern agriculture into a comprehensive forum to facilitate joint efforts to build a better food system.  It will explore the political, legal, and historical forces that shape farming in Michigan today and how to chart a path to a more sustainable food system. 

The conference will feature keynote addresses by Tim Gibbons, communications director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, and Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank in Chicago, and will bring together agricultural policy and legal experts, farmers, consumers and researchers in two panel discussions including:

·         Dr. M. Jahi Chappell, director of agroecology and agriculture policy at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
·         Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-toConsumer Legal Defense Fund
·         Phil Howard, an associate professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability
·         Joe Maxwell, a hog farmer and vice president of outreach & engagement at The Humane Society of the United States
·         Michelle Jackson, a fourthgeneration African American urban farmer in Detroit
·         Michael Vanderbrug, a sustainable farmer and agricultural operations director in the community outreach department of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.

The conference takes place from 9am4pm Monday, March 9, at the Kellogg Center Auditorium, 219 S. Harrison, East Lansing. Admission is $25; $20 for students (with school ID). To register, visit: http://tinyurl.com/FarmingOurFuture.  For an agenda and more information about the conference, visit http://michigan.sierraclub.org/calendar/LESS=MORE_Conference.html