2009 National Symposium Program


    Desired outcome

  • Create a shared understanding of major forces driving change in our food systems and shaping policy opportunities to enhance sustainability in the near term, over the coming decade, and into the future.

    Symposium objectives

  • Identify benchmarks regarding major +/- trends shaping the food system (and interactions among these trends)
  • Establish a shared understanding of forces shaping opportunities for reform
  • Consider how these may affect different regions / constituencies
  • Analyze implications for opportunities for reform of US agricultural and food policy

    Organizing Committee

  • Thomas P Tomich, University of California, Davis (chair)
  • Tom Kelly, University of New Hampshire
  • Marcy Ostrom, Washington State University
  • Jerry DeWitt, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, Iowa
  • Dan Sumner, University of California, Davis
  • Michelle Wander, University of Illinois

    Special advisors

  • AG Kawamura, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)
  • Richard Rominger, Farmer, former Secretary, CDFA, former Deputy Secretary, USDA
  • Michael Pollan, University of California, Berkeley

    Consultant on process design and facilitation:

  • Nancy White, Full Circle Associates.

    Graphic recorder:

  • Mariah Howard, Arterior Motives

    Major funding provided by the WK Kellogg Foundation

    Approximate number of participants:

  • 150 on site plus participation from remote sites

    Symposium structure:

  • Four panels designed to promote interaction among resource people, private sector, government, and NGO leaders, moderated by a journalist with subject matter expertise.


(Pre-reading materials are available under the speaker's profile page if applicable)


Shuttle bus pick-up at Howard Johnson, Econo Lodge and Aggie Inn


Shuttle arrival at ARC Ballroom


Continental breakfast


Opening: Welcome, overview, review of objectives and ground rules.
Thomas P. Tomich, W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and Director, Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis and UC SAREP


Panel 1. Food prices, health, and access to food
Journalist/moderator: Lia Huber, freelance journalist, Prevention contributor
California: Dan Sumner, Director, Agricultural Issues Center and Frank Buck Endowed Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis
Population, health and nutrition: Gail Feenstra, Nutritionist and Food Systems Analyst, University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
Food systems and social equity: Patricia Allen, Director, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz
An urban perspective on access to food: Oran Hesterman, President and CEO, the Fair Food Foundation, Ann Arbor, Michigan




Panel 2. Climate change: uncertainty and interactions including conflict over water; energy prices and supplies; nutrient cycles and contaminant flows
Journalist/moderator: Andrew Martin, The New York Times
Climate change: Jon Padgham, Program Director, Environmental Risk, Vulnerability and Adaptation Program, International START Secretariat (global change SysTem for Analysis Research and Training), Washington, DC.
Water: Mark Shannon, Professor of Engineering and Director, Center of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems (WaterCAMPWS), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Energy: Cutler Cleveland, Professor of Geography and Environment, and Director, Center for Energy and Environment Studies, Boston University; Editor-in-Chief, The Encyclopedia of Energy
Ecosystems: William Clark, Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development, JF Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Chair of the Design Committee, State of the Nation's Ecosystems Reporting Program, Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment




Panel 3. Regional implications: threats, opportunities, adaptive capacity and managing vulnerability: How do we prepare for an uncertain future?
Journalist/moderator: Jim Downing, The Sacramento Bee
Southern perspectives: Nancy Creamer, Professor of Horticultural Science and Director, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina State University
The Northeast: Kathy Ruhf, Principal, Land for Good, and Coordinator, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Belchertown, MA
The Corn Belt: Michelle Wander, Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Great Plains and Mountain Region: Neva Hassanein, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, University of Montana
Resources:  Richard Howitt, Professor and Department Chair, Agriculture and Resources, University of California, Davis




Panel 4. Pulling it together: What do we need to know and do to build resilience into the food system?
Journalist/moderator: Erik Stokstad, AAAS/Science magazine
Richard Rominger, Farmer, former Secretary, CDFA, former Deputy Secretary, USDA
Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), Washington, DC (Cancelled)
Anne-Marie Izac, Chief Alliance Officer, Alliance of the Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Rome
Chuck Tryon, Director, Applied Sustainability, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis
Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center, President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and President of Kirschenmann Family Farms
Kate Clancy, Food Systems Consultant and Senior Fellow, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota, St. Paul


Evening reception (also at the ARC Ballroom at UC Davis)


Shuttle bus pick-up at ARC Ballroom, drop-off at Howard Johnson, Econo Lodge and Aggie Inn


One page guideline will be provided to moderators and panelists

Resource materials: Each resource person is expected to prepare (in exchange for airfare, accommodations and meals) a 1-4 page briefing document (modeled on data formats used by the Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems) following a set format.

1) What do you use as key measures and indicators? What are the 3-4 most important indicators that we need to track? What are the appropriate spatial scales? Also mention measures that are crucial, but do not exist or are not tracked systematically over time.

2) Which data sources do you rely upon? Do credible sources of time series data exist for relevant scales? What are the most authoritative sources?

3) What do we know about conditions and trends in key indicators? What is the current state and what is the time trend for each of your key indicators? Can these trends be projected ahead with any confidence 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? What are key thresholds or turning points? What are the implications: for food security/inequality, for policy, for technology, for public institutions, NGOs and the private sector? Who could be the big winners and losers?

4) Status of our knowledge (or ignorance). Comments on quality of data; how well- documented, well-established are these patterns? Are there possible thresholds or turning points? How well are these trends and turning points documented/understood? (speculative? well-established?) Protocols will be provided for qualitative and quantitative assessment of uncertainty in the data, based on formats used in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Resource materials should be submitted one month before the Symposium (by 24 February); these will be formatted for a shared appearance, posted on the ASI website before the meeting, and printed and compiled into briefing books to be distributed at registration.


1. Overall set up by host (a moment)
2. Moderator (a journalist with subject matter expertise) briefly introduces themselves and each of the 3-4 panelists (5 min)
3. Each panelist has 5 minutes to review 3-4 highlights of their material (20 min or less)
4. Moderator asks questions to prime the discussion, possibly based on key questions developed in advance by us, the moderator, and the resource people (20 minutes or less). *
5. Moderator opens the discussion, seeks involvement from other participants to consider how these issues may play out differently in different regions and/or for different constituencies. (25 minutes)*
6. Moderator paraphrases main points and issues from the session (5 min max)

    *(4) and (5) could be a parallel process, not just sequential.
    Overall: 90 minutes MAX