And that is a wrap! This semester’s Digital Dialogue Series brought together over 700 participants to learn about the levers of change needed to bring about a transformational change to our agricultural system. This semester’s series featured four great speakers who discussed policy, populations dynamics and it’s impact on agriculture, watershed adaptive management, examples of innovative partnerships looking to create change, and the interplay of environmental laws and agriculture.
The first Digital Dialogue featured Austin Frerick, Deputy Director of the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University, Senior Fellow at Data for Progress, and Fellow at The Harkin Institute at Drake University. Austin discussed the history of our food policy, our move to deregulation and how the Farm Bill is built to benefit the folks on Wall Street instead of the farmers in the fields.
The second Digital Dialogue featured Martye Griffin, Director of Ecosystem Services at the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. Martye discussed the Yahara WINS project in Dane County, Wisconsin. Yahara WINS is a collaborative watershed adaptive management project with MMSD, community partners, and producers who are working to reduce phosphorus loads and meet water quality standards. Martye discussed how the project was pitched to achieve the successes that MMSD is currently seeing, the measurement and verification process, and what is to come across the 20-year lifespan of the project.
The third Digital Dialogue features Peter Lehner, Managing Attorney of Earthjustice’s Sustainable Food and Farming program and author of the recently publishes book – Farming for our Future: the Science, Law, and Policy of Climate-Neutral Agriculture. Peter discusses agriculture’s contribution to and risks from climate chance and the practices and policies that can solve the issue and create meaningful change moving forward.
Our last Digital Dialogue series featured Armando Ibarra, Professor in the School of Workers and Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ibarra discusses the changing population dynamics in the United States and Wisconsin in particular, with Latinx populations becoming the second largest minoritize ethnic or racial group in Wisconsin and the second largest student population in the public school system. Ibarra discusses this dynamic, the implications for social change, the importance of understanding the labels used to categorize people and the challenges and inequities faced within this community and those within the community that work on agriculture.
Special thanks to our speakers for lending their time and expertise to the series, and to Carl Wepking for coordinating and arranging the series.
If you are interested in hearing more Digital Dialogues check out the recordings from our first Digital Dialogue series which focused on the question – what are healthy agroecosystems?
And stay tuned for more Digital Dialogues when we starting in September.