Derek Sandison


Derek Sandison, WSDA Director

Derek I. Sandison was appointed director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture by Gov. Jay Inslee in June 2015.

Sandison, a lifelong Washington resident, has worked in both the public and private sectors for more than 40 years. Before his current appointment, Sandison served as director of the Office of Columbia River within the state Department of Ecology. There, he was responsible for projects to develop water supplies vital for the state’s agricultural community. Previously, he led Ecology’s Central Region, an area composed of seven counties stretching from Canada to Washington’s southern border.

Other career experience includes 14 years as senior vice president of a Northwest consulting firm and 12 years in local government.

As state agriculture director, Sandison supports and promotes Washington’s rich and diverse agricultural industry both nationally and internationally. He currently serves as chair of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s Marketing and International Trade Committee.

Sandison has a master’s of science in natural resource management and a bachelor’s degree in biological science, both from Central Washington University. He has received many awards throughout his career, including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s John W. Keys III Award for building partnerships and strengthening relationships and the Washington State Water Resources Association’s Water Resources Leadership Award.
Ben  Hartman

Morning Keynote

Ben Hartman, Farmer and Author

Ben Hartman is the author of The Lean Farm, winner of the Shingo Institute’s prestigious Research and Professional Publication Award. He and his wife Rachel Hershberger own and operate Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, Indiana, where they make their living on less than one acre growing and selling specialty produce to restaurants, at a farmers market, and through their CSA. The farm has twice won Edible Michiana's Reader's Choice Award. Hartman was appointed to the 2017 Grist 50, a list of emerging green leaders in the United States. View more.

Using the Lean System to Earn a Comfortable Living on a Farm
Lean principles were originally developed by the Japanese automotive industry, but they work equally well on farms. This keynote will explain core lean concepts and how any farm can use them to work smarter, not harder, and increase profits with less work. The author will show how he and his wife use lean concepts like kaizen to earn a comfortable living growing specialty produce on less than an acre of land.

John Ikerd

Afternoon Keynote

John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Missouri Columbia, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

John was raised on a small dairy farm in southwest Missouri and received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. He worked in private industry for a time and spent 30 years in various professorial positions at North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia, and the University of Missouri before retiring in early 2000.

Since retiring, he spends most of his time writing and speaking on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on economics and agriculture. He currently resides in Fairfield, IA with his wife, Ellen, two dogs, and two cats.

Ikerd is author of Essentials of Economic Sustainability, Sustainable Capitalism, A Return to Common Sense, Small Farms are Real Farms, Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture, and A Revolution of the Middle. View complete background information and a wide selection of writings: Website A and Website B

The Status and Future of Local Foods
Local foods have been the most dynamic, if not the fastest growing, sector of the American food system for more than a decade. However, recent USDA reports indicate a slowing in the rate of growth in farmers markets, CSAs, and other direct sales by farmers. Some advocates claim the USDA reports fail to capture the increasing importance of food hubs in the local food movement. Others fear the local food movement may be saturating its small niche market. The future of local foods is rooted in its past. Why were local, community-based food system replaced by today’s global corporate-based food system. Why are American consumers searching for something different for the future? The future of local foods depends on the answers to these questions.