Raj Patel, controversial author, journalist, and food policy expert, continuously challenges our presumptions about the global economy with his work both as a policy analyst and activist. He has worked for some of the most prestigious international organizations and protested against them, and constantly works to find ways to improve the world’s food system.
His most recent book, “The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy,” has been hailed as a deeply thought-provoking guide to the way economics works, exploring the recent economic collapse and painting a clear picture of how to achieve a fairer, more sustainable economy and society. He is also the author of the acclaimed book “Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System,” which discusses the growing worldwide food crisis and what needs to be done to solve it. He is working on a major documentary film project on how to feed the world in the future, with acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) and Participant Media (An Inconvenient Truth; Food, Inc.).
Patel is currently a visiting scholar in the Center for African Studies at UC-Berkeley, and an honorary research fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also the recipient of an IATP Food and Community Fellowship and is a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First.)
Andrew Kimbrell is Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety and the International Center for Technology Assessment in Washington, DC. He is one of the country’s leading environmental attorneys, and an author of numerous books and articles on environment, technology and society, and food issues. His books include 101 Ways to Help Save the Earth, The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food and general editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. His articles on law, technology, social and psychological issues have also appeared in numerous law reviews, technology journals, popular magazines and newspapers across the country, and he has been featured in numerous documentaries including the film “The Future of Food.” In 1994, the Utne Reader named Kimbrell as one of the world’s leading 100 visionaries. In 2007, he was named one of the 50 people most likely to save the planet by The Guardian-UK.
Join George Siemon, CROPP’s inimitable, inspirational leader, for a “State of the Co-op” report. Hear about developments, plans and a report on the past year.
One of the nation’s foremost organic agriculture advocates for more than two decades, George Siemon is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. His work champions a system of farming that supports family farms, humane treatment of farm animals, the environment, and high-quality organic food. In 1988, George joined a group of family farmers in Wisconsin to found what would become the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP). More commonly known by its brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, CROPP has grown to become the largest organic farming cooperative in North America. Organic Valley producers promote sustainability by farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or pesticides. Their livestock herds feed on pasture, preserving landscapes and biodiversity for future generations.
As a part of Organic Valley or on his own time, George has greatly influenced the organic industry for the past two decades. He initiated the largest (and only) organic-focused granting fund in the U.S.; advised the USDA as part of the Livestock Standards Board; currently participates on the boards of directors for The Organic Center, Global Animal Partnership, and the Non-GMO Project; and has led the nation’s largest organic producer cooperative for the past 23 years. Most notably, he was instrumental in developing effective national standards for organic certification.
Several local luminaries in the world of cooperatives discuss their involvement in various aspects of working in a cooperative business model. Panel members will approach their involvement from the perspectives of consumer, legal counsel, farmer/producer, employee and distributor.
C-E-I-E-I-O of Organic Valley / CROPP Cooperative
As a founding member and now C-E-I-E-I-O of Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, George has been one of the nation's foremost organic agriculture advocates for nearly three decades. George is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. His work champions an agriculture that supports family farms, humane treatment of farm animals, the environment, and high-quality organic food.
George C. Wilbur
Attorney and Counselor at Law
George practices law from his office in LaFarge, providing legal services and advice to a number of cooperatives including Organic Valley and the Viroqua Food Cooperative along with legal services to individuals in a Main Street general practice. George served a term as District Attorney of Vernon County, Wisconsin, helped organize and served as president and board member of the local
Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, and served for 12 years as President of the Board of North Farm Cooperative, in Madison, Wisconsin.
General Manager Viroqua Food Co-op
As General Manager of the Viroqua Food Co-op since 1999. Jan works with dozens of communities hoping to follow VFC’s example to strengthen local food economy by focusing on organic and locally grown products. Jan has also been instrumental in her advisory capacity to the formation of Fifth Season Cooperative—a multi-stakeholder cooperative made up of producers, producer groups, food processors, distributors, and buyers from the 7 Rivers Region.
Kevin Schmidt, MSSW, LCSW
Center Point Counseling Cooperative
Kevin is a worker/owner at Center Point Counseling Services Cooperative, the first mental health cooperative in the nation. Kevin is a founding member of Center Point, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience helping families and individuals of all ages. Kevin has experience treating a range of emotional and mental health disorders.
Organic Valley Family of Farms ©2013