We want to thank everybody for their generous response and would like to acknowledge your growing concerns on these vital issues going forward to the new Administration.

In just ten days over 57,000 Americans have joined with Food Democracy Now! to advocate for a Sustainable USDA!

It is important now that we focus our attention on Under Secretary positions at the USDA. We have added six individuals, who have been champions on issues of sustainability and standing up for independent family farmers as indicated by their life’s work, to our original list and want to put them forward as candidates for these positions.

These are not the only choices for consideration, but their backgrounds represent the type of candidates that we expect to be appointed to these positions in the very near future.

As you may already know, while the Secretary of Agriculture is an important position, it is our understanding that Under Secretaries may actually have “more influence on the day to day workings of the agency than the Secretary.”

Time is of the essence. It is vital that you express your voice for Sustainable Change by signing on to support these candidates and those who have worked alongside this community for decades.

NOW is the time to become the Sustainable Voice for change that our nation so desperately needs.

Many of us are Iowans who acknowledge Obama’s selection of our former Governor as the next Secretary of Agriculture and hope to deliver this petition with your comments to him once he is confirmed and President-Elect Obama to encourage them to take these issues to heart as they lead the USDA and 21st century U.S. agricultural policy into the future.

Thank you for registering your vote. The conversation has just begun…

Here are the Sustainable Dozen!

  1. Gus Schumacher: Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture. Boston, Massachusetts
  2. Chuck Hassebrook: Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Nebraska.
  3. Sarah Vogel: attorney; former two-term Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota.
  4. Fred Kirschenmann: organic farmer; Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, IA; President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, New York.
  5. Mark Ritchie: current Minnesota Secretary of State; former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich; co-founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  6. Neil Hamilton: attorney; Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law and Director, Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
  7. Doug O’Brien: current Assistant Director at Ohio Department of Agriculture; worked for the U.S. House and the Senate Ag Committee; former staff attorney and co-director for the National Agriculture Law Center in Arkansas, Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
  8. James Riddle: organic farmer; founding chair of the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA); has served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force since 1991; appointed to the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, serving on the Executive Committee for 5 years and was chair in 2005, Board of Directors. Winona, Minnesota.
  9. Kathleen Merrigan: Director, Agriculture, Food and Environment M.S./Ph.D. Program, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center on Agriculture; Food and the Environment, Tufts University; former Federal Agency Administrator U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service; creator of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, mandating national organic standards and a program of federal accreditation. Boston Massachusetts.
  10. Denise O’Brien: organic farmer, founder of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN); represented the interests of women in agriculture at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995l; organized a rural women’s workshop for the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, Italy; received nearly a half million votes in her 2006 bid to become Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. Atlantic, Iowa.
  11. Ralph Paige: Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund; served as presidential appointment to the 21st Century Production Agriculture Commission; participates on the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee for Trade; the Cooperative Development Foundation; and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education & Economics Advisory Board. East Point, Georgia.
  12. Karen Barrett Ross: President of the California Winegrape Growers Association and Executive Director of the Winegrape Growers of America; awarded the Wine Integrity Award by the Lodi Winegrape Commission for her contributions to the wine industry. Sacramento, California.