The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) will host The Food Dialogues, a town hall-style discussion to address Americans' questions about how their food is grown and raised and the long-term impact of the food they are eating – on their own health and the health of the planet. These topics, as well as findings from recent surveys of farmers, ranchers and consumers conducted by USFRA, will all be discussed during this interactive event taking place at four locations across the U.S. and online on September 22.

"Americans want to know where their food comes from, how it was raised and if it is good for their health long-term," said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "We realize farmers and ranchers haven't always done the best job answering Americans' questions about how food is grown and raised, and hope The Food Dialogues event will be the start of an ongoing dialogue that addresses these questions and more. We hope everyone who cares about the future of food and how we provide healthy choices for people everywhere will join the discussion, including farmers of all sizes – small and large, conventional and organic, consumers and food decision-makers."

The Food Dialogues will include four panel discussions, featuring leaders in food, food service, media and policy, farmers of all types and business leaders, who will share different viewpoints about the current and future states of food, and how food is grown and raised. These discussions will take place at four U.S. locations including Washington, D.C., New York, the Midwest and California, as well as online via Facebook and USFRA's new Web site,

To date, USFRA has secured several high-profile participants including Claire Shipman, television journalist and senior national correspondent at ABC's "Good Morning America," who will moderate the event from Washington, D.C. and Chef John Besh, who will moderate from New York. Additional participants include Max Armstrong of Farm Progress Companies and Jane Wells of CNBC. Other panelists include:

Washington, D.C. (Emcee: Claire Shipman)


  • Bob Stallman
  • Tres Bailey, Director of Agriculture and Food, Wal-Mart
  • Frank DiPasquale, president, School Nutrition Association
  • TBD, American Humane Association
  • Jon Scholl, American Farmland Trust
  • Dan  Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture


New York (Moderator: Chef John Besh)


  • Bart Schott, president, NCGA
  • Lynn Silver, New York City Department of Health
  • Sarah Murray, Author: Moveable Feasts
  • Patricia Cobe, senior editor , Restaurant Business Magazine (tentative)


U.C. Davis (Moderator: Jane Wells, CNBC)

  • Eric Benson, Egg Producer
  • Michael  Dimock, president, Roots of Change
  • Dr. Neal Van Alfen, Dean, UC Davis School of Agriculture
  • Stuart Woolf, president, Woolf Farming
  • Rick Stott, Executive Vice President, Agri Beef Co.


Fair Oaks, Indiana (Moderator: Max Armstrong)


  • Malcolm DeKryger, Pork Producer
  • Phil Bradshaw, USFRA Vice Chairman
  • Galen Miller, president, owner, Miller Poultry
  • Casie Conley, Future Farmers of America Indiana State President
  • Mike McCloskey, president, owner, Fair Oaks Farms

The panel discussion will initiate in Washington, D.C. at 11:30 a.m. EDT and will conclude with the final panel taking place in California. The entire event will stream live online from 11:30 a.m. EDT through 5:00 p.m. EDT, providing opportunities for farmers, ranchers and the general public to register to watch and participate in the discussion online.

"This event will allow anyone with an internet connection the ability to join a conversation about food and where it comes from," said Stallman. "Consumers rightfully want to know that farmers and ranchers are treating animals well, maintaining food quality and safety and doing our jobs in ways that don't harm the environment. This is an opportunity to ask questions, challenge current thinking and truly engage in a real-time, two-way conversation taking place on and USFRA's Facebook page about food with farmers, ranchers and other major thought leaders in the food and agriculture industry."

New Survey Data to Drive Conversation

The town hall-style discussion will also feature findings from recent surveys of farmers, ranchers and consumers, conducted by USFRA in July and August 2011. USFRA will first announce findings of the farmer/rancher survey which aimed to identify topics the agricultural community wished Americans had more information about when it comes to how food is grown and raised. Top-line findings of the farmer/rancher survey conducted in July 2011 reveal that farmers and ranchers believe the average consumer has very little knowledge on several topics related to food production, including the effect of pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics on food; where their food comes from in general; and proper care of livestock and poultry. These and other concerns highlighted in a new national consumer survey conducted in August 2011 will be at the forefront of discussion topics.