This national conference is sponsored by the Center for Respect for Life
and Environment. It is an activity of the Soul of Agriculture Project, a
two-year effort established by the Center in late 1995 to develop a new
agriculture production ethic and to mobilize broad public support for its
This effort was inspired by “The Spirit of the Soil: Agriculture and
Environmental Ethics,” a book by Paul B. Thompson, Professor of Applied
Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at Purdue University. The book
examines environmental problems in industrial agriculture and challenges
environmentalists to think more deeply and creatively about the ethical
dimensions of agriculture’s impact on the environment.
The conference is a national public response to Thompson’s call for “an
ethic of farming, a philosophy of agriculture, which particular attention
to agriculture’s impact upon and integration with the wider natural world
. . .a philosophy needed as much by those who eat as by those who farm . .
. nearly gone is the spirit of raising food and eating it as an act of
communion with some larger whole.”
Fred Kirschenmann, Medina, N.D., farmer and sustainable agriculture
leader, proposed the production ethics project and chairs the conference
planning committee. Thompson and Kirschenmann were among more than 20
environmentalists, farmers, faith community networkers, ethicists, and
others brought together last March to draft a vision statement/call to
action document. The draft, now available for public review and comment,
calls for development and implementation of a new production ethic. This
document will be refined in conference breakout sessions and published
early next year.
The Center for Respect for Life and Environment, established in 1986 in
response to the growing environmental crisis, sponsors economic and social
development programs that recognize the links between ecology,
spirituality, and sustainability.
Conference Program Summary
Friday, November 14
9 a.m.-10:15 a.m. Opening Plenary. Keynote by Paul B. Thompson,
Professor of Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Purdue University.
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Plenary Session with speakers presenting five
perspectives (agricultural, environmental, consumer, faith community, and
rural community) on an agricultural ethic.
12:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Lunch on your own.
1:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m. Plenary Session featuring presentations from farmers
discussing what they do to apply an agricultural ethic to their farming
3 p.m.-4:15 p.m. Plenary Session featuring presentations by
environmentalists discussing how they view agriculture’s impact on the
4:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Breakout sessions to identify and discuss the shared
values of environmentalists and farmers.
Saturday, November 15
9 a.m.-9:45 a.m. Plenary Session. Keynote by Paul Johnson,
Administrator, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services (invited).
10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Plenary Session featuring case studies of successful
national initiatives that featured compromise between farm, environmental,
and consumer organizations.
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Plenary Session featuring presentations by three
ethicists on what is involved in developing and implementing an
agricultural production ethic.
12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Lunch on your own.
1:45 p.m.-3 p.m. Breakout sessions for input from selected panelist and
conference participants on the vision statement/call to action draft.
3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Breakout sessions resume discussion by participants of
draft document with the primary focus on actions needed for implementation.
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Fall Harvest theme reception featuring
organically-grown food and presented by the Midwest Organic Alliance.
Sunday, November 16
9 a.m.-9:45 a.m. Plenary Session featuring keynote address by Winona
LaDuke of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota (invited).
10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Plenary session featuring six presentations on
models that can be used to take an agricultural production ethic to the
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch on your own.
1 p.m.-2 p.m. Breakout sessions to discuss models and recommend ways the
Soul of Agriculture Project can facilitate work on a farming ethic at the
2 p.m.-2:45 p.m. Closing Plenary Session with reports back from breakout
sessions, a response from the Soul of Agriculture Project, and any final
Vision Statement/Call to Action Drafting Committee
The committee that drafted the document that will be refined in conference
breakout sessions spent three days last March working together with the
guidance of a professional facilitator and the assistance of an
experienced writer. A copy of this draft can be mailed to you upon
request (if you cannot attend the conference) or sent to you as part of
your registration packet.
Contact Roger Blobaum, Conference Coordinator, at 202-537-0191 (phone) or
The drafting committee members are John Bobbe, Sr. Pegge Boehm, Kate
Clancy, Peter deFur, Michael W. Fox, Cornelia Butler Flora, Dean
Freudenberger, Judith Heffernan, Derrick Jensen, Loni Kemp, Fred
Kirschenmann, Ron Kroese, Betsy Lydon, Mardi Mellon, Michelle Miller,
Neill Schaller, Shirley Scherrod, Kathy Sikorski, Paul Smith, Paul B.
Thompson, Bob Welborn, and David C. Williams.
To register, please complete this registration form (one per person; make
copies as needed) and mail it with a check to the Soul of Agriculture
Project at 3124 Patterson Pl., N.W., Washington, DC 20015 or fax it with
the needed credit card information to 202-537-0192.
Registration Information (check one)
Registration before November 1 $ 80.00 _____
Registration starting November 1 100.00 _____
Student Registration 40.00 _____
Make checks payable to: Center for Respect for Life and Environment
Charge Card Information: _____VISA _____ M/C Expiration
Number: ___________________________ Signature: ___________________________
Name on Card (Please print) _______________________________________________
Conference registration includes reception but does not include meals.
Please register early. Conference space is limited; confirmation on a
first-come, first-served basis. There are no partial reservations. No
refunds can be made after November 1. For registration or conference
information please contact Roger Blobaum, Conference Coordinator, at
202-537-0191 (phone) or 202-537-0192 (fax).
The conference will be held at the Humphrey Institute Conference Center,
which is located on the edge of the West Bank of the Minneapolis Campus of
the University of Minnesota. It is approximately 10 minutes from both
downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul and about 30 minutes from the
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The conference center is
managed by the Citizen Education Program, an outreach arm of the Hubert H.
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. It serves the University of
Minnesota community and the nonprofit, business, and public sectors by
providing meeting and conference facilities. All conference events,
including the Saturday evening reception, will be held at the Center.
A block of rooms has been reserved for conference participants at the
Holiday Inn-Metrodome, which is located two blocks from the Humphrey
Institute Conference Center. We suggest you make your room reservations
as soon as possible to take advantage of the special Conference rate of
$77.50 single/double per night. You must request rooms in the Center for
Respect for Life and Environment block to receive the conference rate.
For hotel reservations call Holiday Inn-Metrodome reservations at
800-448-3663 during normal office hours or Holiday Inn Worldwide
Reservations at 800-465-4329 after 6 p.m. and on weekends. The conference
rate is available through October 22.
If you register before November 1, you will receive in the mail
confirmation of your registration, copies of the Vision Statement/Call to
Action draft and of the conference program, and other travel and parking
Soul of Agriculture Project
3124 Patterson Pl., N.W.
Washington, DC 20015
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