Skip to Content
Texas State University

Farm and Food Leadership Conference offers support, resources for small producers

Jayme Blaschke, Director of Media Relations | July 24, 2019

farm and food leadership conference logo
small producers initiative logo

SAN MARCOS – Mark Shepard, sustainable agriculture advocate, and Deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell, cattle ranchers lauded for their environmental stewardship, will serve a keynote speakers for the 2019 Farm and Food Leadership Conference at Texas State University August 11-13.

The conference is hosted by the Small Producers Initiative in the Department of Agriculture, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and the Council for Healthy Food Systems. It will feature more than 25 speakers, six educational tracks, pre-conference workshops and an exhibitor hall. Conference admission ranges from $15 for single workshops to $140 for an all-events pass. 

Shepard will serve as keynote speaker during the Monday night banquet. He is CEO of  Forest Agriculture Enterprises, is founder of Restoration Agriculture Development and the award-winning author of "Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers." Shepard is most widely known as the founder of New Forest Farm in Wisconsin, a 106-acre commercial-scale perennial agricultural operation that was converted from a row-crop grain farm. It is considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the U.S.

Clark and Birdwell will serve as keynote speakers Tuesday morning. They run a stocker operation of 5,000-7,000 head of cattle on the 14,000-acre Birdwell & Clark Ranch in Clay County, northwest of Fort Worth. The majority of their livestock are fed using a high-density grazing management plan, resulting in consistently improved range conditions, soil health and cattle productivity. In 2018, the couple earned one of six regional Environmental Stewardship Awards, presented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in recognition of outstanding land stewardship. Clark also serves on the board of directors of the Texas Wildlife Association.

This conference is designed to provide the leadership and services to better enable small producers to grow their businesses, as well as share the latest in relevant research. 

To register or receive more information, visit

About Texas State University

Founded in 1899, Texas State University is among the largest universities in Texas with an enrollment of 38,694 students on campuses in San Marcos and Round Rock. Texas State’s 192,000-plus alumni are a powerful force in serving the economic workforce needs of Texas and throughout the world.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922