After inviting the great New Mexican food activist Mark Winne to speak at an Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) Summit this week, Mark was “uninvited” because the Farm Bureau and Cattleman’s Association thought he was “too controversial.” WHAAT?
Mark has voluntarily served on the boards of Southwest Grassfed Alliance, Community Food Security Coalition and other “bridge-making” organizations too many to name, is even-headed and inspiring.
On the other hand, the ADA has continued with its policy of having no farmers or farmworkers of color on its Governing Board, which risks putting the state in violation of civil rights laws and endangering USDA pass-throughs of funds to help all farmers in the state.
We must respectfully ask ADA Director Mark Killian to reinvite Mark and apologize to him, and to finally put Native American, Hispanic, Black and women farmers on its governing board, its staff (in greater numbers) and its grant decision-making review committees, not just on tokenist advisory committees.
Native, Hispanic and women farmers and farmworkers dominate Arizona’s farm demography, Arizona Farm Bureau members do not.
If Director Killian does not do so, each Arizonan should discern in her or his heart whether to participate in any ADA summits or programs… it is your choice as to what kind of agriculture we will have. INCLUSIVE, OR EXCLUSIVE (just for good ole boys).