Portland, Ore. – Northwest food and farm leaders will welcome US Department of Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Ann Wright to Oregon to learn more about the region’s innovative efforts in the food and farm arena. Ms. Wright, whose focus at USDA is on Marketing and Regulatory Programs, is especially interested in hearing more about programs that align with the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and connecting with key Northwest agricultural representatives. Her three-day visit, taking place January 31 – February 2, will feature site tours and dialogue with farmers, businesses and state officials who are eager to share many of the maverick approaches they have taken to strengthening the local agricultural and food economy.
Undersecretary Wright was appointed to her position by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in June 2009. Before serving in her current role, she was the senior policy advisor to Majority Leader Harry Reid on issues before the Senate Agriculture Committee. Prior to that, Undersecretary Wright worked as a policy analyst for Consumers Union on energy and trade issues and worked with farmers and non-profit organizations at the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C.
Portland-based nonprofit Ecotrust is sponsoring and organizing the Undersecretary’s inaugural visit to the Pacific Northwest through its Food & Farms program. The mission of Ecotrust’s Food & Farms program is to improve public understanding of agriculture and the challenges its faces and to increase the market share of locally grown, processed, and manufactured foods. While here, Wright will help Ecotrust and partners such as the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Washington State Department of Agriculture celebrate the official launch of FoodHub (food-hub.org), a social venture business of Ecotrust, made possible in part by USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding.
FoodHub is an innovative new online directory and marketplace that connects the Pacific Northwest food community and accommodates food producers – including farmers, ranchers, fishermen and food manufacturers – and food buyers of every scale and production type. Since its “beta” launch in November 2009, FoodHub has attracted more than 200 members throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Schedule for Undersecretary Wright’s Trip to Oregon:
Sunday, January 31 • Eugene • 6 pm
Meet with Willamette Valley farmers, ranchers and representatives from Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development.
Monday, February 1 • Eugene, Corvallis and Portland • 9:00 am
Keynote speaker at 4th annual Local Food Connection conference, a gathering of more than 150 farmers, agricultural advocates, educators and food buyers. Lane Community College, Eugene
Undersecretary Wright to give keynote address with focus on Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and FoodHub’s role in connecting producers and buyers.
Lunch at Gathering Together Farm in Philomath, Ore., with Josh Hinerfeld and Tom Lively of Organically Grown Company personnel to learn about OGC’s innovative distribution program and the Lady Bug brand which supports 40+ regional farmers
Arrive at Stahlbush Island Farms, Corvallis, Ore.; Learn about Stahlbush’s vertical integration and new biogas project during a tour of the farm and food manufacturing facilities. In addition, Wright will participate in a round table discussion with Corvallis area farmers and foresters.
Dinner at Navarre restaurant in SE Portland with local farmers and representatives from farm organizations along with the OSU Small Farms Program.
Tuesday, February 2 •Portland
Tour New Seasons Market with President Lisa Sedlar
11:30 – 1:30 pm
More than 120 Northwest food and farming representatives will gather at Ecotrust to greet Undersecretary Wright and celebrate the launch of FoodHub.
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Directors’ Conversation: Undersecretary Wright will be joined by Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse and Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba to discuss domestic and international issues of importance to the Northwest agricultural market.
Food Innovation Center, Portland
3:30 – 5:00 pm
Tour the Food Innovation Center and sensory lab; taste Northwest products and meet NW entrepreneurs who have used the facility for research and development.
Dinner at Park Kitchen with representatives of the Northwest’s school food nutrition community. Guests include Michelle Ratcliffe, Oregon Department of Agriculture; Tricia Sexton Kovacs, Washington State Department of Agriculture; Kristy Obbink, Portland Public School District; Joan Ottinger, Oregon Department of Education; and select others.
About Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program
Ecotrust’s mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental well being. With regard to our Food and Farms program, we improve public understanding of agriculture and the challenges it faces and work to increase the market share of locally grown, processed and manufactured foods. Whether by introducing a farmer to a chef or food processor to an institutional buyer, Ecotrust is a trusted “benevolent broker” that has been making connections between food buyers and sellers in the Pacific Northwest for a decade. Learn more at ecotrust.org