Plate to Politics: Women Running for Office on Food and Farm Issues

By Ash Bruxvoort

I don’t know about you, but this week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. Between frequent text messages from my conventional farmer dad about a trade war with China, several posts about Iowa farms impacted by high winds and storm damage, and watching the block to Dick Durbin's bipartisan amendment to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for the wealthiest farming operations—on top of many alarming local and national headlines, my resolve has certainly been tested.

But there have been some glimmers of hope. I’ve spent several hours online perusing the profiles of inspiring women candidates running on platforms for an ecologically and socially just food system. You might have seen the recent article on Modern Farmer: Five Female Farmer Candidates to Watch in 2018.

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I’m really lucky that through our Plate to Politics program I’ve been able to connect with some of the women featured in this article. I've known Kriss Marion for Wisconsin State Senate for awhile thanks to connections from WFAN’s Plate to Politics program and Lisa Kivirist at the MOSES In Her Boots project. I was lucky to hear Kriss’ voice earlier this week while she was phone banking for campaign donations prior to her fundraising deadline (I donated as a friend). If you're not following her campaign on Instagram and Facebook, definitely check her out. She's having a lot of fun meeting folks on the campaign trail and it shows. She shows up exactly as she is, with her cowgirl boots and hats. Every time she shows up on my feed I am reminded of the strength and kindness of the women in WFAN. 

Some of the candidates in this article I’ve been able to connect with briefly over social media, like Emily Best for Pennsylvania State Senate and Lisa Seger for Texas House District 3. Others, like Kathleen Vinehout for Wisconsin Governor and Sylvia Hammond for Washington State Representative, I’ve heard rumblings about them in sustainable agriculture circles for the past couple of years.

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But, like any listsicle, there are also several notable women candidates (and a few women I’ve met who are currently serving) missing from this brief list. I know that there are even more women who are passionate about food justice that are currently serving in public office or running for positions at all levels. If you are one of those women, or you know someone who is, please fill out our Women in Ag Running for Office form or email me a tip.

The following list is a compilation of candidates we have been notified about through our Plate to Politics workshops and form; VoteRunLead training programs, and our friends at Female Farmer Project, and is not meant to be an endorsement of any specific candidate, rather an opportunity for you to see how other women are approaching their candidacy.

Bryn Bird, Granville Township Trustee, Ohio farmer and food policy leader - currently serving Brenda Brink, Iowa House District 49, rural advocate Patty Edelburg for National Farmers Union Vice President, dairy farmer - currently serving Amanda Edmonds, City of Ypsilanti Mayor, Michigan food policy leader and community gardener - currently serving Katie Hill for California’s 4th Congressional district, policy advocate and hobby farmer - Democratic nominee Brittney Johnson for Minnesota House District 8,  district technician and farmer Kayla Koether for Iowa House District 55, aspiring next generation farmer Alicia Leinberger for 96th Assembly Wisconsin, Fair Trade and green energy advocate Sara Martinez of Justice of the Peace, daughter of migrant farmworkers - currently serving Denise O’Brien for Iowa House District 21, farmer and sustainable ag advocate LaDonna Redmond for Hennepin County District Commissioner, food justice and social activist Erica Roth, Green County Supervisor, Wisconsin farmer - currently serving Theresa Stevens for Sun Prairie City Council, gardener and youth educator - currently serving Lupe Valdez for Texas Governor, daughter of migrant farmworkers - Democratic nominee

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