Kathleen Merrigan Delivers Keynote at OFRF Luncheon


OFRF’s 20th Annual Benefit Luncheon at Natural Products Expo West offered up a delicious organic menu and thought provoking discussion on the future of organic agriculture. The luncheon is a time-honored kickoff to Natural Products Expo West, the world’s largest natural products show, attracting more than 77,000 attendees to the Anaheim Convention Center.
The theme for this year’s luncheon was “Building an Organic Future.” An all organic menu, prepared by Chefs Donna Prizgintas, Christopher Blobaum, and Beth Miller featured heartland inspired dishes such as Beer Braised Short Ribs with Sauerkraut, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, and Mixed Berry Shortcake with Rose Geranium Whipped Cream.
Tim Schultz, Vice President of Research and Development for Lundberg Family Farms, and a new OFRF Board member, welcomed guests. Schultz talked about how OFRF’s funding of young researchers becomes very impactful when they are able to grow their programs and continue work on a larger scale. He shared the story of Kevin Murphy, an Assistant Professor at Washington State University. Early grants from OFRF were instrumental in getting Murphy's grain research off the ground, ultimately leading to millions of dollars in additional funding from USDA.
OFRF’s Executive Director, Brise Tencer, highlighted some of the innovative research OFRF funded in 2016 and the ramping up of policy work in Washington, D.C., where OFRF is working to help ensure funding for organic research in the 2018 Farm Bill. Tencer introduced keynote speaker, Kathleen Merrigan, an early OFRF Board member currently serving on OFRF’s Advisory Committee. Kerrigan is the Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University and was formerly the U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the USDA.
Merrigan began by looking back on the history of organic advocacy, beginning with OFRF’s work to secure funding for organic research in the 2002 Farm Bill. Giving a nod to early leaders in the organic movement, including OFRF alumni, Mark Lipson and Bob Scowcroft, Merrigan called OFRF the “the little engine that could.” Charming the crowd with her savvy and humor, Kerrigan left the guests with a rallying cry to watch for alerts to protect organic. "They are coming and we need to respond. There is still so much to learn,” she added. “And we all need to work together.”
For nearly three decades, OFRF has been at the forefront of the organic movement, working to support the success of America’s organic farmers and ranchers through research, advocacy, and education.
OFRF thanks all of our sponsors and in-kind donors for their generous support of this event. Thanks to everyone who has made a contribution to OFRF. We are truly grateful for your continued support of the work we do.