2019 Presidential Forum Questions


Iowa Organic Association and the Organic Farmers Association hosted a Presidential Forum on Thursday, December 5, 2019, as a non-partisan event to allow Iowa organic farmers an opportunity to highlight policy issues that affect them the most. We invited ten leading Presidential Candidates to this forum, and are delighted that at least one candidate, Senator Sanders, agreed to hear the concerns of Iowa organic farmers. 

This event is an opportunity for Iowa organic farmers to share their policy priorities with the nation.  The event was televised nationally by ABC News and Sen. Sanders' campaign, and was the FIRST time that a Presidential Candidate had engaged specifically with an organic farming group about real policy platform issues that affect organic farmers.  The questions listed below were asked by Iowa organic farmers during the forum. 

To view the forum, click here

1.  Kim Andersen.  I run Blueberry Bottom, a certified organic blueberry farm in Brighton, Iowa. Organic regenerative farming practices are essential for fighting climate change and they provide environmental services that support clean air, water, and healthy food for our communities. Will you fight for agriculture policies that include incentives for organic, regenerative farming practices for family farms?  

2.  Billy Sammons.  I own and operate Sammons Custom Farming in Churdan, Iowa, a 120 acre multi-generational organic farm. As Francis Thicke mentioned earlier this evening, healthy organic soil can sequester large amounts of carbon. As President, how will you assure that the USDA keeps healthy soil a high priority for all farmers and a requirement for certified organic crops?

3.  Andy Dunham.  I am a 5th generation Iowa farmer. My wife and I own and operate Grinnell Heritage Farm, an 80 acre certified organic vegetable farm, counted as one of the oldest family farms in Central Iowa.   My question is this:  Farmers are being squeezed by low prices, vertical integration of agribusiness, and monopolies of markets.   How will you use existing antitrust legislation to curb vertical integration and monopolies and ensure fair pricing to family farmers?

4.  Margaret Smith.  I farm certified organic corn, soybeans, oats and forage in north central Iowa.  Iowa organic farmers work hard to produce high-quality commodity crops with high organic integrity, yet the USDA has failed to prevent fraudulent imports and domestic fraud from undercutting our market.  What will your administration do to protect American organic farms from being undercut from fraud?

5.  James Franzen. I was raised on an organic hog farm and now own and operate an organic livestock feed mill. I work with numerous farmers every day and know they are still the backbone of American.  Organic and regenerative family farmers supply their communities with healthy food and provide many environmental services to the rural and urban communities around them. We need a Secretary of Agriculture who stands WITH sustainable family farmers, not corporate interests. Will you appoint a Secretary of Agriculture who understands and will support vibrant sustainable family farms?

6.  Patti Naylor.  My husband George and I farm organic corn, soybeans, hay, apples, and chickens in west-central Iowa. Organic farmers helped write the national organic standards in the early 2000s and have asked for continual improvement and high organic integrity ever since.  However, corporate interests have seen our organic success and have lobbied to weaken our organic standards.  In just the last five years the USDA has failed to pass higher animal welfare standards, enforce the pasture rule and origin of livestock, and has undercut farmers’ position on the requirement for soil in organic production.   How will you help put the organic movement back in the hands of the organic farmers who created the label and out of corporate interests?