On 11 Feb, Chuck Benbrook wrote:
> Also important -- new leadership for the USDA Nat. Organic
> Program (NOP) is forthcoming. Keith Jones from Texas will be
> taking over the top staff job. Michael Hankin has resigned. Keith
> will do a good job in this new role, and has a long and
> constructive record of involvement with organics. He has the
> temperament and back-bone needed to move the process along in a
> positive direction despite the efforts of some to dilute or divert
> the integrity of the rule. So recent developments from within USDA
> are positive.
Keith is indeed the new program manager for the NOP, but Mike, the
senior mktng specialist coordinating the standards drafting team.
hasn't resigned. At least not as of 20 minutes ago, when I hung up
from a conversation with his office. As for "top staff jobs," Mike
will report to Keith. Keith will report to Eileen Stommes, the NOP's
deputy adminstrator. This all from a source at the NOP office as of
12:15 CST today.
I fact-checked this because Mike was slated to make the trip to
Wisconsin, this week, to be part of a panel on the draft standards,
at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, on whose planning
committee I sit. Mike and I have been in touch since he attended the
conference last year.
I'll comment another time, from a communicator's perspective, about
things I've seen happening in the communication flow around the NOP
and standards review and comment process. And from the
perspective of someone who once worked in state government, heading
up an unfunded state mandate.
I'd hope we don't lose perspective about where the most effective
places are to put our energy--emotional, intellectual, and
political. I've heard Mike Hankin's name dropped repeatedly by people
who neither know him from Job nor understand the structure or process
in place at the federal level, and who have nothing but a name to
drop and some frustration they need to target somewhere. It's a
perfectly valid use of energy...but I think there are other places
it's needed more. We can't afford to squander or misdirect our
energy, people--any more than we can waste fossil fuel or topsoil.
And healthy, sustainable communication is, so far as I can tell, an
important part of our movement.
But now I'm tipping my hand on my future comments...and my car's
been parked illegally outside the building for an HOUR...and a
leather touring jacket with winter lining gets preeeeeettty warm
after awhile indoors. :^)
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
The whole of science is nothing more than
a refinement of everyday thinking. -Albert Einstein
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