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E-M:/ March 8--Mark Ritchie & the Global Food Economy

From:   Carol Osborne, Michigan Organic Food & Farm Alliance, 989-705-7204
The Global Context for Michigan Organic Agriculture

Organic food is hot!  Its sales growth in health food stores and supermarkets is a bright spot in the generally stagnant food industry.  Is that a good thing for Michigan farmers and food processors?  Or will organic agriculture look a lot like its conventional cousin, with most of Michigan’s food flown and trucked in from California or beyond? How can Michigan organic farmers and processors better understand and deal with global trends and uncertainties?  What new opportunities and challenges does the world situation offer for community-based organic food systems? 
Mark Ritchie, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in Minneapolis, will address these issues in his keynote speech on Saturday, March 8, 2003, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, at the 2003 Michigan Conference on Organic Agriculture.  He will fly in to join the conference as he returns from a European trip.

Ritchie brings over 30 years of experience in global policy making.  Starting his career working on children's health and hunger issues, he helped create and manage the world's largest consumer campaign, the Infant Formula Action Campaign. He has worked for Iowa State University Extension Service, raised organic eggs on a California farm, organized youth in Alaska, directed Minnesota’s agriculture trade policy,  managed research for a large farm and food-oriented advertising agency, advised foundations, and co-founded a vertically integrated system of cooperatively owned food processors, wholesalers, and retail stores in San Francisco. His most recent book, Renewing the Countryside, honors creative individuals and families who have found ways to live sustainably in rural America.

Ritchie heads IATP, an organization that educates non-governmental organizations about international economic issues and helps them participate more effectively in international policy making. He wrote some of the earliest articles to explain potential clashes between trade agreements and environmental objectives. He a co-convened (along with Professor Jagdish Bhagwati) the 1994 Trade and Environment (Talloires) Dialogue. Mr. Ritchie served on the Board of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and was a member of the Clinton Administration's Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee.

Registration for the March 8 conference is $50.  Registration details for the March 7-8 conference are available at
www.moffa.org or www.msue.msu.edu/misanet/ or phone 269-674-8383.
NOTE:  IATP released a report in February 2003 on agricultural water use and consumption in the Great Lakes region.  The report stressed the need for conservation and region-wide coordination to ensure that farmers and other users have access to needed water in the future.  See www.iatp.org/