Who is the Soul of Agriculture?
Supporters and Advisors
[Many of the initiators and earliest collaborators
in the Soul of Agriculture project are on Soul's Advisory Board,
others are listed after the Advisory Board. Particularly generous
in its early support of Soul of Agriculture is the Center for
Respect of Life and Environment and its parent organization,
the Humane Society of the United
The Advisory Board members of the Soul of Agriculture
project are characteristic of the kind of people working with
the project. The following thumbnail sketches give an idea of
the breadth and talent of these advisors. Through these people,
Soul is really a network of networks since most are tied to
other farm-related, rural community or environmental groups.
Albert Medvitz, Farmer, Rio Vista, CA;
Small Grains, Lamb, Sheep
Al is an Advisory Board member of the Small Farms
program of the University of California, member of Community
Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), District 3 Director of
the Farm Bureau, a Harvard graduate and active in the American
Association for the Advancement of Science. He is valued for
his intelligence, connections, and good humor. His involvement
in Soul does not indicate any endorsement of Soul by the Farm
Bureau. But as a basically "conventional" farmer,
his perspective is valuable.
Br. David Andrews, CSC, National Catholic
Rural Life Conference (NCRLC), Executive Director
NCRLC has been an active supporter from the beginning.
Br. David tracks movements, organizations and conferences, especially
those which are sponsored by religious groups, which impact
on the survival of family farms and their communities. NCRLC
is an effective network within the Catholic rural community
groups in the Midwest, plains states, Texas and Washington.
C. Dean Freudenberger, Luther Seminary,
Active instigator of Soul, Dean represented the
Lutheran communities of the Northwest. Since he has returned
to California, Soul expects tol depend more on Pastor Mark Yackel-Juleen
of the Rural Life and Ministry Education Center (Windom, MN).
Fred Kirschenmann, Farmer, Windsor, ND;
Organic grain and live stock; Director of the Leopold Center,
University of Iowa
As a Ph.D. (Philosophy, Univ. of Chicago) and
former dean, he has intellectual credentials which give his
reflections on farming a credibility in the academic community
which complements his deep involvement in farming his 3000 acre
organic operation in North Dakota.
Roger Blobaum, Washington D.C.; Agricultural
Roger was the first coordinator of Soul. His history
of working for the cause of farmers in every imaginable kind
of organization and for his current involvement in environmentally
sensitive sustainable agriculture and organic farming makes
him an invaluable resource to the project. Everybody loves him.
But he also knows everybody and can direct me to good collaborators.
Cornelia Flora, Iowa State Universiry,
Powerful scholar and leader in Rural Sociology,
Cornelia is present or recent President of the Rural Sociology
Society. She is a vibrant supporter of family farming and has
written much which demonstrates the key role of sustainability
in preserving family farming.
Gary Valen, formerly of The Humane Society
of the U. S., Director of Sustainable Agriculture and first
fiscal manager of Soul
HSUS offered this support due to their conviction
that smaller, and especially environmentally sensitive, farms
are far more able and likely to treat animals in a humane fashion.
They know that only when such farms are successful will they
be able to afford and continue such care of livestock.
John Bobbe, Farmer, Brussels, WI; National
Various officers of NFO, including their CEO,
support Soul,but John is the best informed.
John Gerber, University of Massachusetts,
formerly Director of Agricultural Extension
John, together with Elizabeth Bird (Univ. of Wisconsin,
Madison) have made Soul a concern of Consortium for Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education (CSARE).
Margaret Mellon, Union of Concerned Scientists
Margaret is probably one of the best-known environmental
policy analyst/advocates in the U.S. She is a long term supporter
and advisor to Soul.
Judith Heffernan, Executive Director, Heartland
Network for Town and Rural Ministries, Columbia, MO
Judith heads a rural Methodist ministry organization
which covers the northern plains and on down to Oklahoma. She
will assist us in getting her denominations input into the consensus
Kate Clancy, Henry A. Wallace Institute
of Alternative Agriculture
In addition to her current post and its network,
Kate is a nutritionist, with extensive knowledge of direct marketing
of farm products to consumers. The alternative agriculture movement
is explicitly committed to environmentally sensitive ways of
Joy Mench, Professor, Animal Science at
University of California, Davis, and Director of the Center
for Animal Welfare
Joy is well known for her solidly scientific approach
to questions of farm animal welfare and has the confidence of
those who really wish to secure humane treatment of animals
in the context of their use as part of the human diet and as
important to integrated farming systems.
Kathy Sikorski, Farmer, Willard, MT; Wheat
Kathy and her husband, Jerry, are active in the
Northern Plains Resource Council. Their farm is an integrated
operation with many conventional practices. She is able to network
and relate well with environmentalists and shares their concerns
while still using many conventional inputs. She is a good bridge
person, since Soul is not intended to appeal exclusively to
organic farmers and has no apriori conviction that there is
no responsible use of agricultural chemicals.
Loni Kemp, Minnesota Project Senior Policy
Soul initiator and contact with Minnesota farm
support groups. She is a real source of inspiration.
Melanie Adcock, Ecological Agriculture
Program Director, Foundation for Deep Ecology
Vigorous supporter of Soul while she was a Vice
President of the Humane Society of the U.S. She remains an enthusiastic
supporter in her new position.
Michelle Miller, University of Wisconsin
Pesticide Use and Risk Reduction Project
Soul initiator and one of the main sources of
insights into the value of Soul work for forming K-12 curricular
materials on the place of farming in America.
Paul Thompson, Purdue University, Joyce
and Edward E. Brewer Distinguished Professor, and Chair of Applied
Paul is probably the country's best-known agricultural
ethicist. His book, Spirit of the Soil, contained the
initial inspiration that family farming needs to express its
"soul" i.e., its basic values and ethics so that all
will know what is at stake in the present crisis. He is particularly
critical of the tendency for industrial scale farming to "externalize"
the costs of environmental degradation which frequently accompany
that scale of farming.
Ron Kroese, formerly St. Croix Valley Community
Foundation, Executive Director
Long-term defender of sustainable of family farming,
his current post mirrors one goal of the Soul project: coalitions
of non-farming rural residents who wish to preserve farming
and who use coalition building to achieve that end.
Shirley Sherrod, Executive Director, Community
Alliances of Interdependent AgriCulture, Inc.
Community Alliances of Interdependent AgriCulture
(CAIA). is a visionary group which shares Soul's concern that
basic values and ethics should inform human organizational behavior
more strongly. Shirley herself brings to us perspectives and
networks from her former post, working with minority farmers
as director of Southern Cooperatives.
Michael Fox, Senior Scholar, Bioethics,
The Humane Society of the United States
Michael is an internationally renowned veterinarian
and author of more than 40 books including several on animal
husbandry and agriculture. He oversees farm-animal welfare issues
within the HSUS.
Sr. Mary Tacheny, SSND, Center for Earth
Sr. Mary has had years of experience as a teacher
and is best known for leading a massive consultative/consensus
forming process which resulted in a document on the values and
ethics of family farming for heartland Catholic dioceses entitled
Strangers and Guests (1980). She is a consummate facilitator
and will also be able to assist us in forming curricular materials.
She and associates have already organized two well attended
ecumenical consultations on the Souldocument draft Creating
a New Vision of Farming.
David Visher, Agricultural Consultant,
Chair of Yolano Chapter of Community Alliance with Family Farmers
David worked in the University of California's
Small Farm program and in Vegetable Crops with UC Davis. He
has already facilitated one Soul event and is available to coordinate
the Great Central Valley Soul activities. As chapter head of
CAFF, he has an extensive network of farmer friends.
Robert Welborn, Franktown, CO; Attorney,
Robert is the former Chairman of the Board for
CRLE, the home of Soul and board member of HSUS. He is a vigorous
supporter of Soul.
Bernard Evans, St. John's University, Collegeville,
MN; Theological Ethics
Bernard teaches agricultural ethics from a theologically
enriched viewpoint and has already led off one two-day ecumenical
retreat on the Soul document.
John Hall, Michael Fields Agricultural
Institute (MFAI), Director
MFAI is one of the sponsoring groups behind Soul
and John has been a supporter. MFAI has the potential of being
a location for regional coordination of the Soul process.
Jose Montenegro, Director Rural Development
Center, Salinas, CA
Jose is our principal connection to the farm-labor
community at present. We are attempting to get additional contacts
in the Great Central Valley (Sacramento and San Joachin Rivers)
through the United Farm Workers. But the coastal farming regions
(Mendocino to San Diego) employ thousands of workers. Salinas
is central to this region.
Many of the advisors listed above served generously
and provided inspiration in the initial stages of Soul when
they served on the original Planning Committee of the
Soul of Agriculture and later on the Drafting Committee.
Others who served on those committees with distinction and continue
to support the Soul process are, on the Planning Committee,
Rick Clugston and Tom Rogers of the Center for respect of Life
and Environment; Peter deFur, Center for Environmental Studies;
Skip Polson of the Heifer Project International. On the Drafting
Committee, were: Sr. Peggy Boehm, St. John's University; Derick
Jensen, Environmental writer; Betsy Lydon, Mothers and Others;
Neil Schaller, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture;
Paul Smith, Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin; David L. Williams, Iowa
Roger Blobaum, noted above, was the cement that
tied all these persons together and, in many case, brought them
into the process during his two years of coordinating the Soul
of Agriculture process. The curriculum vitae of the present
coordinator, Stanislaus Dundon, can be seen below.
Stanislaus J. Dundon
current Soul of Agriculture Coordinator
Stanislaus J. Dundon is an historian and philosopher
of science and technology by training. He began his work in
early modern physics but, on moving to an agricultural campus,
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, turned his attention to applied agricultural
sciences. His interest in the ability of agriculture to serve
serious domestic and international human needs led him to become
involved in the national curriculum developments in Human Values/Ethics
in schools of agriculture. To prepare himself for this work
he spent two years (1980-82) in Washington D.C., first as a
Congressional Science Fellow in the office Representative George
Brown who chaired the committee which oversees the USDA and
writes legislation on pesticides, agricultural research and
foreign agriculture. He later obtained a Rockefeller grant to
study human values in agriculture, working at the Center for
the Study of Values at the University of Delaware, and at the
National Agricultural Library. He taught history of science
and history of agricultural sciences at the University of Maryland
during this time and began to publish on agricultural issues
in risk/benefit analysis, research policy and agricultural development.
Returning to his campus he established, with a
group of agriculturalists, one of the first team-taught courses
in agricultural ethics in the country, and assisted graduate
students in the International Agricultural Development program.
He subsequently received a National Science Foundation fellowship
to study, at U.C. Davis, the implicit human values communicated
to agricultural students in their economics courses and to study
the values influencing research choice by agricultural economists,
during 1989-90. During 1990-91 he worked with a Joyce Foundation
Fellowship at U.C. Davis to research and develop "The Ethics
and Public Policy of Agricultural Biotechnology" (Plant
Pathology 140). He formed the team with James Marois (Plant
Pathology) and Desmond Jolly (agricultural economics), and obtained
the crucial General Education approval for the course. He used
a similar approach with the support of the School of Veterinary
Medicine in developing "The Ethics of Animal Use"(VMD
170). He remained course leader of VMD 170 for 8 years and continued
to teach the ethics portion of PLP 140 until recently. He also
served on the Public Advisory Committee for Sustainable Agriculture
and on the University Animal Care Committee.
Together with Desmond Jolly he competed successfully for a grant
from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
(SAREP) to develop courses in applied ethics (professional ethics)
for farmers, farm extension personnel and researchers. He continues
to give workshops on practical ethics to those same target groups
at farm conferences and professional meetings.
In November of 1997 he became involved with the
Soul of Agriculture project, working with its coordinator, and
cooperating with the task of summarizing the papers and consultations
which were submitted to its major conference. In 1999 he took
a sabbatical from his teaching post in Applied Ethics at California
State University, Sacramento and became the full-time national
coordinator of the Soul of Agriculture project.
Beginning in 1999, partly as a consequence of
his role with the Soul of Agriculture project, he has been drawn
into the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMO) in
the human food system and been called upon to speak before industry
groups, California state legislative committees and recently
the American Chemical Society and the Society for Nutrition
Education. Most recently he addressed the ethical justification
for labelling GM foods before the UC Davis course for international
lawyers on international trade conflict resolution. His legislative
testimony has been published in Inquiry In Action and
can be read at http://www.csare.org/pubs/biotech.html.
His major concern with the GMO issue is that any potential of
molecular biology to improve the human food supply may be damaged
by the lack of public funding for scientific research into its
risks and the failure to recognize that risk always accompanies
any technology which can promise astonishing innovations. He
may be reached at [email protected].