Mark Ritchie has been on a remarkable journey, from activist and author hoping to save the family farm to President of an important international trade institute to his present pursuit as Minnesota Secretary of State. In 1979, he wrote, Loss of Family Farms, a powerful indictment of U.S. farm policy, which intentionally cut the number of farmers in the country. Later he hosted the 'Old Timers Conference,' bringing together the surviving leadership of the progressive farm movements from the 1920s to the present.
Farm leaders from Europe, Asia and the Americas held an emergency meeting at Canada's parliament in Ottawa to address the worsening agricultural trade situation, which led to The First International Farm Crisis Summit organized by Mark Ritchie.
Shortly after that Mark founded IATP headquartered in the basement of his house at 3838 Blaisdell Av., Minneapolis. He served as the Executive Director and then President since 1986. Previously he served as Executive Director of the Center for Rural Studies and policy analyst at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
I had the pleasure of celebrating the twentieth anniversary of IATP a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed to learn about all the things that the Institute has done. Winona LaDuke, former Green Party candidate for Vice President, was the master of ceremonies and Jim Hightower, former Texas commissioner of Agriculture was the keynote speaker. Mark presented the Institute's annual award for Commitment to Community to Lucia Watson of Lucia's Restaurant and Dr. Edgard Pisani. Dr. Pisani, formerly France's Minister of Agriculture, has been active for more than 60 years on behalf of farmer friendly agriculture and democracy.
Mark Ritchie is the author of numerous books, articles, and studies on a wide range of agriculture, food, environment, forestry, human rights and trade issues. A graduate of Iowa State Univeristy, he has a master's degree in international public law from the University of Amsterdam.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy. Ritche leaves the Institute in good hands as new president Jim Harkness takes over. I am confident Mark will make a great Secretary of State.