Ben Burkett, NFFC President: Ben is a former Indian Springs manager of 16 years and current director of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, the local arm of The Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Ben is a farmer and community activist. Ben represents NFFC on the Via Campesina Food Sovereignty Commission.
The Federation, an umbrella organization now composed of 35 coops representing 12,000 African American farm families from Texas to North Carolina, assists farmers in land retention and the development of economically self-sufficient communities. Member coops purchase supplies and receive marketing, financial and technical assistance through the federation. Ben is involved in several coops, believing that that is the only way you can make it in the rural south.
He has traveled to Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Zimbabwe with FSC, exchanging knowledge and information with small-scale farmers. He in turn hosted West African honey, rice and vegetable producers who visited the United States to learn irrigation, marketing and packaging techniques from African American farmers.
Dena Hoff, NFFC Vice President: Dena represents the Northern Plains Resource Council on the NFFC Board and Chairs NFFC’s Trade Task Force. She raises sheep, cattle, alfalfa, corn, and edible dry beans, among other crops, on their farm in Glendive, Montana since 1979. She is an active member of her rural community, serving on the Water Commission and the local food cooperative. She is also active with the Western Organization of Resource Councils.
Dena is the co-chair or the North American region of Via Campesina (US/Canada/Mexico) and serves on the International Coordinating Council for Via Campesina. She has represented NFFC at international meetings – at Seattle, Cancun, Mexico City, Geneva, and most recently at the FAO meeting in Rome.
Margot McMillen, Secretary: Margot represents the Missouri Rural Crisis Center on NFFC’s board and is an At-Large member of the Executive Committee. As a farmer, she raises sheep and works with Missouri farmers to sell grains in the local community rather than on the commodity market. She provides land for farmers and interns to raise herbs and vegetables sold at numerous venues through mid Missouri and St. Louis. She also teaches English at Westminster College in Fulton, MO; hosts a weekly radio program on farm and rural issues; and is a freelance writer providing the farmer perspective in various journals in print and online.
Savi Horne, Treasurer: Savi Horne is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project, which was created to provide legal expertise, community education, and advocacy skills to help farmers and rural landowners facing legal, economic, and environmental challenges. Savi received her B.A. in Urban Legal Studies from City College, City University of New York, and her J.D. from Rutgers University.
Niaz Dorry, at-large: Prior to her position as executive director with Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Niaz Dorry was with Greenpeace for 11 years and in Ohio for two years, fighting alongside her community against the Waste Technologies Industries hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool. She has also worked with the Healthy Building Network, helping to rebuild communities in the Gulf region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and is well aware of the problems facing rural communities through concentration, lost markets and diminished health care.
Joel Greeno, at-large: Joel Greeno has been a Wisconsin Dairy Farmer for 15 years and is the current President of the American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Asssociation, an organization of dairy farmers dedicated to establishing a raw milk price which returns to dairy producers their cost of production plus a profit. ARMPPA is a milk-marketing agency that holds no allegiance to any existing milk handler, cooperative or corporation. Through ARMPPA, small and moderate-sized dairy producers can survive as independent businesses and avoid vertical integration.
Mardy Townsend, at-large: Mardy Townsend is a second-generation farmer in Windsor, Ohio. She transitioned the family hog and grain farm to an intensive grazing beef operation on certified organic pasture. Most of the grass-fed beef is directly marketed to a local grocery chain. Mardy lived for many years in Central America, and came to value highly the links between social justice for all people and good stewardship of the land and all animals living on it. Mardy has a BA in Biology and Animal Science from Wilmington College and a MS in Agronomy from Ohio State University. She is president of Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake Counties Farmers’ Union and on the board of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. When not caring for cattle, Mardy works actively against fracking, the biggest current threat to the vibrant and growing local food movement of northeast Ohio.
Please read this September 2013 piece on Mardy and two other women farmers in Ohio.