American Grassfed Association 2013 Conference
Growing the Culture of Simple, Honest Food
October 31 -November 2, 2013
San Diego, California
Please join us in beautiful San Diego as grassfed producers, nationally recognized experts, chefs, consumers, academics, processors, distributors, food artisans, and others dedicated to the sustainable and healthy production of grassfed and pastured meats gather to network, educate, and celebrate the American family farm at AGA’s 2013 conference, October 31 through November 2.
This year’s conference will feature two days of issues-oriented and thought-provoking workshops, keynotes, and panel discussions; listening sessions and a membership gathering, and delicious meals. The goal is to continue Growing the Culture of Simple, Honest Food.
Thursday, October 31
4-6 pm — Registration and check-in at Rancho Bernardo Inn
6:30-8:30 pm — Welcome reception and dinner featuring Rain Crow Ranch grassfed burgers from The Burger Lounge Mobile Kitchen
Friday, November 1
7:30 am-8:30 am — Registration and check-in
8:30 am-9:15 am — Welcome and Opening Session
AGA Board and Staff
9:15 am-10:15 am — Business Organization Options and Strategies in Food Safety Context
Brad Sullivan and Patrick Casey, attorneys-at-law, L+G, LLP
10:30 am-11:30 am — How to Work with Retail and Commercial Outlets
Jim Little, The Burger Lounge, and Mike Hacaga, Whole Foods
11:30 am-1:00 pm — Lunch with keynote by special guest J. Dean Loring, Burger Lounge
1:00pm-2:00 pm — Stories from the Field
Alan Geubert, Journalist
2:15 pm-3:15 pm — Wendell Berry, Poet & Prophet
Film screening featuring Bill Moyers and Wendell Berry, with an introduction by Mary Berry
3:30 pm-5:00pm — Processing, Distribution, and Opportunities for Small Producers
Discussion and Listening Session with Dr. Glenda Humiston, USDA Rural Development; Will Harris, White Oak Pastures; and Mike Lorentz, Lorentz Meats
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm — Reception and Dinner
Mary Berry, The Berry Center, Keynote Presentation
Saturday, November 2
8:30 am-9:20am — The Next Generation: Young Farmers Leading the Way
Peter Whisnant, Rain Crow Ranch; Jenni Harris, White Oak Pastures; Moderated by Graham Meriwether, filmmaker
9:30 am-10:20pm — The Slow Food Movement and Animal Welfare: A Conversation
Richard McCarthy, Slow Food USA, and Andrew Gunther, Animal Welfare Approved
10:30 am-11:20 am — Grazing and Carbon Sequestration: Saving the Climate One Pasture at a Time
Joe Morris, Morris Grassfed Beef; Sarah Bell, 11th Hour Project
11:30 am-12:20pm — Antibiotic Use, Superbugs, and Pastured Livestock Production
Josh Wenderoff, The Pew Charitable Trust; Michael Graziano, filmmaker; Dr. Michael Crupain, Consumers Union. Moderated by Kerri McClimen, The Pew Charitable Trust
12:30 pm-2:00 pm — Lunch
Urvashi Rangan, Consumers Union, Closing Keynote
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm — Membership Meeting and Listening Session/Roundtable
Topics to include COOL labeling, AMS grassfed market reporting, new opportunities, and others as requested by attendees.
Speakers to include Dr. Glenda Humiston, Richard McCarthy, AGA Board, and others TBA
7 pm – 10 pm — Movie Night
Resistance Special Sneak Preview!
When scientists in the mid-20th century developed the means to mass-produce antibiotics it was a medical miracle.
Only now are we realizing the potentially catastrophic implications of this innovation. The question is …
Have we reached a point where we must save antibiotics in order to save ourselves?
RESISTANCE explores the emerging pandemic of antibiotic-resistant infection – what’s causing it and what’s being done to combat it.
Current debates over antibiotic use in human medicine and animal farming take center stage as the film follows patients, healthcare providers, and farmers who’ve confronted resistant bacteria; and microbiologists and medical doctors who’re working to develop new solutions to the problem. Their stories are joined with insights from writers, public officials, and politicians to explain the history of antibiotics and why their ineffectiveness is one of the greatest threats modern humanity has ever faced.
American Meat is a pro-farmer look at chicken, hog and cattle production in America.
Beginning with a history of our current industrial system, the feedlots and confinement operations are unveiled, not through hidden cameras, but through the eyes of the farmers who live and work there. From there, the story shifts to Polyface Farms, where the Salatin family has developed an alternative agricultural model based on rotational grazing and local distribution. Nationwide, a local-food movement of farmers, chefs, and everyday people has taken root… But could it ever feed us all?
Full conference registration covers all conference activities including the welcome reception and dinner, all workshops and panel discussions, the AGA membership meeting, breakfast for two days, Friday lunch, Friday night banquet, Saturday lunch, and film screenings. The Saturday only registration includes all workshops and panel discussions on Saturday as well as the film screenings.
Full Conference $365 (AGA member), $395 (non-member)
Saturday Only Conference $100 (AGA/Slow Food member), $125 (non-member)
The elegant and gracious Rancho Bernardo Inn will host this year’s conference. We have a limited number of rooms set aside at the special conference rate of $159 per night per room, which includes parking and wi-fi, as well as a discounted rate for golf and spa services. Please call the Inn at 800-542-6096 and ask for the American Grassfed Association rate.
No need to rent a car — all conference events will take place at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. Super Shuttle is offering conference attendees a discount on transportation between the airport and the conference. Their shared van service is efficient and economical, and you might make some new friends during the ride.
Make your online reservation here, or you may also call 1.800.258.3826 to make reservations. Please make sure to mention you are with the AGA Conference 2013 or use group code MQ8J3.
Mary Berry, The Berry Center
Mary Berry has taken the works of her father Wendell Berry to the next level and has created the Berry Center to showcase the life work of one of America’s finest writers. The Berry Center has developed a college program based on rural agricultural principles at St. Catherine College in Kentucky called “ Homecoming”. Mary is a compelling and passionate speaker and will draw you in with her words and stories.
Urvashi Rangan, Consumers Union
Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D. is an environmental health scientist and toxicologist. She leads Consumer Reports’ Consumer Safety and Sustainability Group and serves as the Executive Director of its Food Safety and Sustainability Center. Dr. Rangan oversees all of Consumer Reports’ safety testing projects, risk assessments, and serves as the lead spokesperson on these issues, translating complex scientific concepts into actionable consumer advice and policy recommendations. She has expertise in food safety issues, food labeling, risk assessment and sustainable production practices. In addition to appearing frequently in major news outlets, she also testifies to government bodies, has given lectures at various universities and conferences and has directly challenged critics of a sustainable food system.
Sarah Bell, 11th Hour Foundation
Sarah is Program Manager for The 11th Hour Project, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation, and directs the Foundation’s program in ecological agriculture and regional food systems. She is active in several organizations and sits on the boards of Environmental Grantmakers Association and Pie Ranch. She holds a B.A. in both English Literature and French from the University of Colorado. An enthusiastic supporter of permaculture and former student at the Regenerative Design Institute, Sarah lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.
Alan Geubert, journalist
Alan Guebert is a free-lance agricultural journalist who was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in December 1980, he worked as a writer and contributing editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal. He began his syndicated ag column, The Farm and Food File, in June 1993 and it now appears weekly in more than 70 newspapers throughout the US and Canada. A second column, The View from the Levee, appears bi-weekly for the on-line publication Daily Yonder. Guebert has won numerous awards throughout his career including Writer of the Year and Master Writer from the American Agricultural Editors’ Association.
Michael Graziano, filmmaker
Michael Graziano is a partner at Uji Films. Prior to co-founding Uji Films he was a teaching fellow in media studies and production at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Michael has produced a variety of film and TV projects for organizations such as MSNBC, ABC, HGTV, and Al Jazeera. He received an MA from Georgetown University and was a PhD Candidate in the Screen Cultures program at Northwestern University. He lives in Nashville, TN.
Andrew Gunther, Animal Welfare Approved
Andrew Gunther is Program Director of Animal Welfare Approved. Since 2008, Andrew has spearheaded the program’s unprecedented growth. AWA farms are now recognized as being at the vanguard of high welfare, environmentally positive, and socially responsible agriculture. Combining an expert understanding of the supply chain beyond the farm gate with hands-on experience and knowledge of farm production—and its consequences—Andrew brings a unique perspective to the arena. He has been the driving force behind some seminal works on the impacts of pasture-based production on the environment, and linking animal-social justice and the environment in a way that is beneficial to each component. An outspoken critic of industrial farming systems, Andrew routinely exposes the negative impact of industrial agriculture on farm animals, the environment, and society as a regular contributor to Huffington Post. He also works closely with restaurants groups and retailers to increase the availability of Animal Welfare Approved meat, dairy and eggs in traditional retail settings.
Previously, Andrew was the senior global animal compassionate product procurement and development specialist for Whole Foods Market, leading the team that designed and launched the company’s five-step welfare program in the United Kingdom. From a truly agricultural background, Andrew, with his wife and children, pioneered the world’s first organic poultry hatchery for chickens. The Gunther family also managed the production and procurement for the largest independent organic chicken producer in the United Kingdom.
Mike Hacaga, Whole Foods
I just celebrated my 20 year anniversary at Whole Foods Market. I started my career in 1993, when we were still Mrs. Gooches. I began as a meat clerk. I became a Meat Team Leader several years later. I am so proud to be part of a company that is leading the way in organic and locally sourced products. What I truly appreciate is the opportunity to work with the livestock community and to feel good about selling meat. We are truly making a difference for farmers and farm animals and I am passionate about this. Partnering with suppliers and helping them grow and be sustainable is amazing way to spend my days.
The meat programs that my team and I have been able to create with our local suppliers continue to inspire me. Seventy percent of the meat products we sell are local. That was almost unheard of just a few years ago. We are truly the leaders in organic and locally sourced products. And, our standards for animal welfare are continuing to make a difference in the lives of farm animals. By working closely with our supplier partners, we are all stepping up to the plate to take on the challenge of making things better.
We have continued to improve our beef programs from a Step 1 to a Step 4 grain finished beef and in San Diego, our supplier, Homegrown Beef has just become organic which gives us another incredible option for our customers who are actively looking for these kinds of choices. To be able to offer Step 4 rated, local and organic beef is pretty amazing. We also continue to support cool innovations like our local and seasonal beef from Hearst as well as Eel River organic.
I’m a total meat guy – with a huge heart for animals. This is how I’m helping to give back.
Jenni Harris, White Oak Pastures
Jenni Harris is the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend cattle at White Oak Pastures. After living on the farm her entire life, Jenni went to Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Business Marketing, graduating in 2009. She remained intimately involved in the family business throughout her studies.
After graduating, Jenni set out to learn the industry. She moved to Atlanta where she interned at Buckhead Beef, a SYSCO company. She put in time in every department, from shipping and receiving to the cut shop, and was later hired to work as a sales associate.
In June of 2010, Jenni returned home to Early County to work for White Oak Pastures full time. As the marketing manager, Jenni travels the East Coast promoting her family’s grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and lamb to distributors, retailers, and restaurateurs.
Will Harris, White Oak Pastures
Will Harris is a fourth generation cattleman who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Will left home to attend the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. Will graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.
These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990’s Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, “nature abhors a monoculture.” In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.
Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. Will is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Georgia Organics. He is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association, and was selected 2011 Business Person of the year for Georgia by the Small Business Administration.
Dr. Glenda Humiston, USDA
Dr. Glenda Humiston was appointed by President Obama in 2009 to serve as the California State Director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development. Humiston brings over 25 years of experience working on public policy development and program implementation supporting sustainability; prior experience includes service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, as Executive Director of nonprofit advocating farmland preservation and value-added agriculture development, and several years as a consultant on environmental and agricultural issues throughout the western states. She served President Clinton 1998 – 2001 as Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at USDA and managed the Sustainable Development Institute at the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa and the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City. Humiston earned her Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management; a Master’s in International Agricultural Development from U.C. Davis and a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University. Recently she produced a widely acclaimed guidebook on “Access to Capital”.
Jim Little, The Burger Lounge
Jim Little was 14 when he discovered his calling in the kitchen. His first job as a dishwasher in a local restaurant in his hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut, paved the way for a lifelong career in the hospitality industry, ultimately landing him in San Diego where he is currently the Culinary Director for all Burger Lounge locations in Southern California.
Though his claim to fame in high school was making the All-City Soccer Team during senior year, Little traded in his cleats for kitchen clogs at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Food Service Management. His passion continued to grow as he worked his way up from his humble beginnings as a dishwasher to experience every position in the restaurant. Little’s hard-earned, on-the-job training served him well. He ultimately assumed Sous Chef and Chef positions at The Atlantic Inn in Block Island, Rhode Island; The Boathouse in Charleston, South Carolina; and Enrico’s in San Francisco, California; and Cody’s and The Fishery in San Diego, California, before settling into his role as Culinary Director for Burger Lounge when the first location opened in 2007.
Little’s belief in “doing things the right way” and “never cutting corners with food,” was a natural match for Burger Lounge, which prides itself on using sustainable, high-quality products for their hand-crafted burgers. Little is fastidious about building strong relationships with Burger Lounge’s vendors to bring the operation closer to the ingredients they are sourcing – a mentality that’s mirrored in his methodical approach behind the griddle.
Mike Lorentz, Lorentz Meats
Mike is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls (1989), with a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science. Mike has taken an active role in the meat processing industry, focusing on bringing local and regional meats to market to support local producers. He has served on the Chapter Board of Directors for the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, served as Treasurer of the Minnesota Grown Promotions Council, Governor’s Advisory Task Force for Organic Foods, and as Board member of the Land Stewardship Project. He is currently a Shareholder, board member and CEO of Lorentz Etc Inc, board Member of the Cannon Falls Economic Initiatives Corp, Vice President of the Cannon Falls Development Authority, member of the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors.
As an owner operator of a small meat processing company, Mike has played an important role in facilitating the growth of locally sourced meat products in Minnesota and nationally. His company, in association with the USDA and Land o’ Lakes developed a curriculum called “Branding Your Beliefs”. The curriculum instructs producers how to capture a larger percentage of consumer food dollars at a farm level. He has presented the curriculum in MN, IA, GA, WI, NE, TX and VA to thousands of producers looking to increase their on farm income.
His company also plays a key role in supporting brands of niche meat products processed in their facility. These products are sold at retailers from local coops to Costco and Target, through foodservice by direct to restaurants or large distributers like US Foods, and through institutional service providers like Bon Appétit and Sodexho.
Doing everything from slaughter to fully cooked products and distributing them through many conventional and unconventional distribution methods gives Lorentz Meats and Mike in particular a unique perspective of what is working in small scale specialty meats.
J. Dean Loring, Burger Lounge Restaurants
In 2007 Mr. Loring co-founded Burger Lounge with former banking CFO Michael Gilligan. Today the company owns and operates 12 locations throughout Southern California. Burger Lounge began with a simple goal: “To create a place where guests can enjoy an indulgent burger they can feel good about eating while providing non-meat eaters and health conscious diners with truly healthy options.” Coupled with innovative design and superlative service, Burger Lounge is an award-winning restaurant company with its sights on continued growth.
Born in Sonoma County into a consummate food-centric family, Mr. Loring’s passion for food began at an early age. He often cheerfully calls himself an S.O.B or G.S.O.B., (son and grandson of a butcher). These early principles drive his passion to utilize sustainable and whole food ingredients like grass-fed beef and create lasting partnerships with independent growers.
After two years of teaching English in Finland and traveling throughout Europe and Asia, Dean started his first entrepreneurial endeavor. In 1988, with savings of $15,000 earned while selling mesquite grilled kabobs at summer festivals from a replica San Francisco trolley car, Mr. Loring founded his first “handcrafted burger” concept. Stars Hamburger utilized local grass-fed beef and handmade buns and continues to operate in Humboldt County, California. Over several years Mr. Loring conceived and operated Bay City Grill, Cody’s La Jolla and Arazzo Market-Café in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. His resume also includes fine dining restaurant management in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California.
Richard McCarthy, Slow Food USA
Richard McCarthy joined Slow Food USA as Executive Director in January 2013, having previously served as Executive Director of Market Umbrella, an internationally recognized non-profit mentor organization for farmers markets, community building and sustainable economic development. From 2005 to 2007, Richard served as a founding President for the Farmers Market Coalition, the national voice for farmers markets. Richard was named a “Hero of the New South” in 2012 by Southern Living Magazine and a “Public Health Champion” in 2004 by the Tulane University School of Public Health.
Kerri McClimen, The Pew Charitable Trust
Kerri McClimen is a former Capitol Hill press secretary and veteran of corporate public affairs and media relations. She has served as a consultant for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming (HHIF) for five years. During that time she has recruited thousands of parents to join and participate in the campaign’s successful Supermoms Against Superbugs project. She has also supported farmers, veterinarians, chefs, health care providers and others advocating for meats raised without antibiotics.
Working with Pew, McClimen helped coordinate the contract that is allowing more than 400,000 public school children in Chicago, the third-largest district in the United States, to enjoy fresh-baked chicken raised without antibiotics. She also works with other large institutional venues, including Chicago’s McCormick Place and Midway and O’Hare airports, to encourage their concessionaires to serve meat raised without antibiotics. In addition, she has been responsible for local restaurants making full meat-menu conversions to animals raised without antibiotics, resulting in more than 5,000 pounds of meat purchased from reputable producers each week by one chain alone.
McClimen received a Master of Science in Communication from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
Graham Meriwether, filmmaker
Graham Meriwether is a documentary journalist who serves as the director at Leave It Better, a film production company committed to telling solutions-oriented stories about environmental challenges. Graham studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is based in New York City. For the past five years, Graham has been focused on directing and distributing the film American Meat. In 2010, Meriwether founded the non-profit organization, Leave It Better Foundation, whose mission is to empower youth to heal our environment.
Joe Morris, Morris Grassfed Beef
Joe is the fifth generation of his family to steward land and cattle in California. Since 1991, he and his wife Julie have used the Holistic Management® decision making framework to enhance the health of their community and land and to produce a living from their work. They have two children, Sarah and Jack.
On their five leased ranches they run pastured cattle for others, their own cows, calves and yearlings, and, since 1995, they have marketed Morris Grassfed Beef™ directly to families in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast.
As a result of their management decisions, they are a profitable ecosystem-based business whose lands are improving even as productivity is rising. Over the years, they have seen vigor return to the native plant populations, particularly oak trees, riparian vegetation and perennial grasses. Furthermore, soil that was once bare is now covered. Perhaps most importantly, people collaborating with T.O. Cattle Company, who at one time had little trust for each other, are steadily gaining trust for each other and improving their ability to work together.
Joe has guided more than a thousand people across his ranches in the past twenty years, has spoken numerous times on the topics of Holistic Management® and rangeland management, and has conducted seminars on these topics in collaboration with the California Native Grasslands Association.
Brad Sullivan, Attorney at Law, L+G, LLP
Brad is the manager of L+G’s Hollister office, overseeing a variety of education and business matters in San Benito County. In addition, Brad is a member of the litigation team at L+G, having been involved in more than fifty jury trials, successfully representing individuals, corporations and public agencies.
His civil trial experience includes food safety (product liability) issues, professional negligence, products liability, construction defect, writ of mandate, land use, environmental contamination and commercial litigation. He has also tried cases in state and federal courts relating to the California Environmental Quality Act, United States Clean Water Act and EPA-CERCLA Superfund matters. Brad’s litigation successes include the case of Russell Evett v. City of Sutter Creek, where he successfully helped to define the scope of a citizen’s action under the United States Clean Water Act in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Prior to joining L+G, Brad spent more than twenty years in general civil practice and as the City Attorney for Sutter Creek. He has provided special and general counsel services to other public agencies such as River Pines Public Utility District, Union Public District, Mace Meadows Community Services District and the Bear Valley Sewer and Water Districts.
Brad received his Juris Doctor Degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1983. Prior to law school, Brad studied at Brigham Young University and subsequently graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Economics.
Joshua Wenderoff, The Pew Charitable Trust
Josh Wenderoff is senior officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where he advocates for responsible antibiotic use in meat and poultry production. Since joining Pew in January 2011, his team has celebrated several important public health victories: FDA restricted the use of an important class of antibiotics in food animal production; Chicago Public Schools became the nation’s largest school system to serve poultry raised without antibiotics; and Congress passed an FDA reform bill that will incentivize the development of new antibiotics. Josh served previously at a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs and crisis communications agency, specializing in health care and technology issues. He graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in religion.
Peter Whisnant, Rain Crow Ranch
Peter Whisnant is a fifth-generation rancher raised on his family farm, Rain Crow Ranch, in the rolling hills of southern Missouri. Peter grew up with intimate, first-hand knowledge of grassfed livestock production. After finishing college, he began working at the family owned processing facility in Jackson, Missouri. After starting from the ground up, Peter now oversees the management of the plant, which employs 75. He is also responsible for food safety and views every carcass produced for quality assurance. Peter handles the marketing for Rain Crow Ranch and is often asked to speak on the benefits of pasture-based, sustainable, and humane cattle production.