The liberal advocacy group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement will hold two days of counter-programming to next month’s Iowa Ag Summit featuring several potential Republican presidential candidates.
The group on Tuesday announced a “Food & Ag Justice Summit” timed for the same weekend, with a “people and planet first social” on Friday, March 6, and “speakout” and “teach-in” events on Saturday, March 7.
The Iowa Ag Summit, organized by agribusinessman Bruce Rastetter, is scheduled for that Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Ten potential presidential candidates have committed to attending, as well as Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa’s entire GOP congressional delegation.
The summit will be the second major, multi-candidate forum of the 2016 Iowa caucus campaign season and is certain to attract national media attention.
CCI’s objective is to draw attention at the same time to its agenda, which opposes industrial farming practices.
“We hold a deep moral and ideological opposition to Bruce Rastetter’s vision for food and agriculture in Iowa and our nation,” Iowa CCI Board President Cherie Mortice said in a statement. “While Iowa’s self-appointed kingmaker is on stage advocating continued reliance on policies that benefit corporate ag, we’ll be lifting up our vision for a food and ag system that puts people and planet first.”
CCI’s “speakout” event will take place at the Iowa State Fair where the Ag Summit is being held. the social and teach-in will happen elsewhere in Des Moines.
Iowa CCI is a regular presence at the Iowa Statehouse and on the campaign trail, regularly holding events and demonstrations in support of issues like a higher minimum wage, environmental protection and a stronger social safety net.
Its demonstrations often draw media attention, as when its protesters showed up at a Mitt Romney campaign event in 2012 dressed as characters from Sesame Street and when activists goaded Romney into the famous phrase, “Corporations are people, my friend,” at the Iowa State Fair in 2011.
The Food & Ag Justice Summit will be cosponsored by the environmental advocacy groups Food & Water Watch, the Oakland Institute and the National Family Farm Coalition and feature several speakers from those organizations.
Additional details – including locations for the events – will be released later.
“People and Planet First Social” 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, at CCI Headquarters, 2001 Forest Ave. in Des Moines
“Food & Ag Justice Speakout” 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 7, at the Elwell Family Center, Iowa State Fairgrounds
“Food & Ag Justice Teach-In” 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, at Simpson United Methodist Church, 2600 Capitol Ave. in Des Moines.