Farm Bill Workshop at #SEJ2017 in Pittsburgh

Farm Bill Workshop, Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Location: Kings Garden 1 & 2, Second Floor, Wyndham Grand, Downtown Pittsburgh

What do you mean you don't cover the farm bill? Agriculture everywhere has a major impact on the environment.

If you are unsure if the farm bill is in your bailiwick, SEJ has a workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 4, just before the full SEJ conference to help break down the farm bill and explain what it means to your readers.

Soil scientist Eton Codling notes excellent corn growth on manured soil treated with alum residue, which cuts ammonia emissions to the air and phosphorus losses in runoff water.
Photo: Scott Bauer/USDA.

In some way, the farm bill touches on almost everyone beyond farmers themselves. The farm bill spells out who gets food aid, both domestically and internationally. The farm bill sets aside the largest pot of federal money for conservation and stewardship on private lands in the country. Conservation programs take the carrot approach by offering incentives to farmers to use best practices on their ground. Is that money spent wisely? What are the measurable impacts? How does the farm bill tie into issues such as local water quality, algal blooms or hypoxic zones in coastal areas? What are the social justice implications of a bill that defines how poor you have to be to get food aid versus how wealthy you can be and still get farm subsidies?

The farm bill workshop and tour is an exciting opportunity for you to take some ideas back to your editors and readers for exploring the nexus between farmers and the environment.

NOTE: This workshop is by invitation only and is full.

8:00 a.m.  Breakfast


8:30-9:45 a.m.  Journalists Round Table

Veteran reporters covering the farm bill explain the nuances of the legislation and issues impacting different audiences.

Moderator: Chris Clayton, veteran farm-policy editor for DTN/The Progressive Farmer

Chuck Abbott, long-time Reuters reporter who now covers farm-policy issues for the Food and Environment Reporting Network
Ellyn Ferguson, agricultural reporter for CQ Roll Call


9:45-10:00 a.m.  Break


10:00-11:30 a.m.  Policy Experts Discuss Farm Bill

Representatives from industry and environmental groups lay out their agendas for the farm bill and explain the differences in the legislation between the carrot and the stick approach.

Moderator: Chris Clayton, veteran farm-policy editor for DTN/The Progressive Farmer

Craig Cox, farm policy expert for Environmental Working Group
Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Beverly Paul, lobbyist for the American Soybean Association


11:45 a.m.  Load buses for lunch and tour

En route to our tour we’ll enjoy a special lunch created by local chef Sonja Finn of Dinette, one of Pittsburgh’s top restaurants. Finn grows much of her own produce on the roof of Dinette and sources as many ingredients as possible from local farms. She has traveled to D.C. many times lobbying for Food Policy Action and will share her positions on the Farm Bill and passion for fresh local food. 

Tour Leader: Doug Oster, Home and Garden Editor, Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Everybody Gardens


12:30-2:30 p.m.  Garden Dreams Urban Farm

We’ll visit Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery in Wilkinsburg. The quarter-acre organic farm supplies gardeners and local retailers with a wide variety of unique seedlings. Garden Dreams was founded by Mindy Schwartz who will be on site to explain the importance of having a place for locals to get plants and fresh produce in this underserved inner-city neighborhood.


3:00 p.m.  Return to the Wyndham Grand hotel

SEJ conference attendees will be gathering in King’s Garden 5 near registration for a meet-and-greet event from 3:00-5:00 p.m.


Sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation.


>> Back to the Wednesday conference agenda.