USDA’s Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers concluded a two-day meeting and elected Traci Bruckner, assistant policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs, as chair of the recently reconstituted committee.
“I’m humbled and deeply honored to serve my fellow committee members in this role. With respect to Secretary Vilsack’s stated goal of helping 100,000 new farmers and ranchers get started, there could not be a better time nor greater opportunity to serve beginning farmers and ranchers and, in truth, all of rural America in this capacity,” Bruckner says.
The annual, face-to-face meeting was attended by 13 of the 20 members of the advisory panel, including nine of the 11 newest appointments. Vilsack named the advisory committee in August. Its purpose is to advise the Secretary on program development to provide coordinated assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers while maximizing new farming and ranching opportunities.
“The beginning farmers’ effort is key to the 21st-century agriculture. These new agricultural entrepreneurs are the cornerstone to a vibrant rural America and the future of all of agriculture,” Vilsarck says. “I will look to this committee for guidance on beginning farmer and rancher issues as we prepare recommendations for the 2012 Farm Bill.”
Over the last two days, the committee received input from the public and also heard from various USDA agencies about their programs and how they are serving beginning farmers and ranchers.
“Access to credit and capital are two long-standing barriers beginning farmers and ranchers face and we heard that from several of the people that provided public comments,” Bruckner notes. “The 2008 Farm Bill made significant strides in addressing beginning farmer and ranchers issues, but we still have a long ways to go.
“The fundamental concerns associated with consolidation in agriculture, meatpacking, food processing and food retailing also must be addressed to provide real opportunity to beginning farmers and ranchers,” Bruckner adds.
The committee’s 11 new members are:
Luciano Alvarado of Fayetteville, N.C.
Bryan Barrett of Gering, Neb.
Francis Benton-Gibson of Manning, S.C.
Deborah Cavenaugh-Grant of Greenview, Ill.
Duncan Chembezi of Madison, Ala.
Dalton Henry of Manhattan, Kan.
Barbara Norman of Covert, Mich.
Rebecca Padilla of Clovis, N.M.
Anusuya Rangarajan of Freeville, N.Y.
Peter Scheffert of Northfield, Minn.
Maykla Yang of Carthage, N.C.
The nine incumbent members of the Committee are:
Traci Bruckner of Wayne, NE
Ray Ellenberger of Madison, Wis.
Lisa Koester of Wadesville, Ind.
Karen Kritz of Pemberton, N.J.
Ryan Luter of Morison, Okla.
Maria Moreira of Lancaster, Mass.
Mary Peabody of Burlington, Vt.
Amarjit Sohal of Yuba City, Calif.
Jeffrey Ward of Windsor Height, Iowa
The new charter for the committee was issued on Nov. 25, 1998, and is renewed every two years. By law, the Committee is allowed to consist of no more than 20 members and no fewer than 14. Members serve a two-year term, and can be reappointed for up to six consecutive years.
Bruckner is a native of rural Nebraska. She is a graduate of Wayne State College, with degrees in political science and rural sociology. In addition to her role as assistant director of Rural Policy, she also leads the center’s work on conservation policy as well as beginning farmer and rancher policy. She helped lobby for the beginning farmer and rancher provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill. She has served on the USDA’S Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Advisory Committee since 2007.