The next round for the Food Dialogues presented by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is in Boston next week and panelists will be discussing what impact the size of a farm has on environmental stewardship and sustainability, farm ownership and animal care. One of those panelists is Indiana farmer Leah Beyer from Shelby County.
“The Food Dialogues actually approached Indiana Soybean Alliance about finding a farmer in Indiana that had about a hundred to 150 acres of soybeans and possibly corn as well. Indiana Soybean then approached me and asked if my husband and I would like to represent the Indiana farming communities and we jumped on the opportunity to be a part of this conversation, and I’ll be representing us in Boston.
The Beyer’s farm 250 acres and this year the rotation is 110 of soybeans and the other 140 is corn. FoodDialogues.com is where the event is streamed live so consumers everywhere can participate. Beyer says she and husband Matt farm much as 2,000 acre operators do, and she expects to be pressed about that.
“I’m really expecting to be pushed pretty hard on why we aren’t produce or specialty crop farmers, especially with the amount of land we farm and the fact that we own all the land we farm. I know they’re going to start asking me about monoculture and why I’m adopting to be a monoculture mentality that they’ll blame big ag for. So I’m excited to talk to them about being a small farmer and the physical commitment it takes to be a small farmer who has specialty crops and some of the labor issues that discuss through immigration impact small farmers almost as much as they impact large farmers, if not more, because we are so dependent on labor if we’re going to have a diversified crop on our farm that we don’t really have a choice. We’re going to do corn and soybeans because that’s what we physically can do on our farm.
Both Leah and Matt work outside the farm too. She operates Beyer Public Affairs and does contract work for the Indiana corn and soybean groups as well as the Illinois soybean organization. He has a business that installs containment dykes and fuel and fertilizer storage on farms in addition to providing maintenance on fuel trucks for co-ops and other distributors of fuel and fertilizer. Hear the full HAT interview here:Leah Beyer on FD-Boston
Food Dialogues-Boston will stream online on Food Day, October 24th from 1-3 PM Eastern time. The former Indiana Farm Bureau state Discussion Meet winner plans to put that experience to good use in New England.
USFRA announced the moderator late Wednesday for the event. Noted food author and Bloomberg News reporter Alan Bjerga will moderate the discussion, “Farm Size: Does It Really Matter?” Food Day is a national celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food.
“This is one of our strongest panels yet and it’s fitting since they’ll be examining one of the hottest topics in the agricultural community: farm size,” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “The purpose of the Food Dialogues events is to join in balanced discussions on provocative topics, like farm size, and our goal is to create a conversation that examines this subject from all angles. By holding this event on Food Day, we hope to reach a broader audience in Boston and online.”
Panelists joining Beyer from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT in at the State Room in Boston are:
Jamie Cruz, Owner/Grower, Springdell Farm, Littleton, Mass.
Michael Jacobson, Founder, Food Day and Executive Director, CSPI
Bill Luckey, Farmer, Columbus, Neb.
Lori Renzi, Vice President, Brand Strategy and Development, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations
Bruce Rominger, Farmer, Rominger Brothers Farm, Winters, Calif.
and Michael Swanson, Ag Economist, Wells Fargo Bank.