Kathleen is a strategic and fearless thinker, she has championed sustainability in food and agriculture throughout her career. After serving as Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the US Department of Agriculture under President Obama, Kathleen returned to academia and her first love - mentoring the next generation of food policy leaders.
Every Farm Bill is hugely important. It controls about 70% of what the USDA does and puts out billions and billions of dollars. One of the things I’ve been doing at the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems is raising the flag that the government has underinvested in organic agriculture. Across the USDA’s 17 agencies and hundreds of programs, probably less than 1% of the money going out the door is spent on organic. We’d like to make the case it should be 6%. It’s such a modest ask. It represents how much food is currently purchased by Americans that is organic. What a world of difference it would make. As we face the grim news that we’re not doing enough to combat climate change, I think organic is a great answer to a lot of the problems that we face, not only in the U.S., but globally.