CalCAN Partner Profile
At the 38th annual EcoFarm Conference in late January, we were thrilled to see Dave Runsten, Policy Director at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), receive a Steward of Sustainable Agriculture (“Sustie”) award. According to the Ecological Farming Association, the award honors “those special people who have been actively and critically involved in ecologically sustainable agriculture and who have demonstrated their long term, significant contributions to the well-being of agriculture and the planet.”
This honor certainly befits Dave, our long-time collaborator and friend. He was introduced by another CalCAN partner Judith Redmond at Full Belly Farm, who gave a summary of Dave’s four decades of committed efforts to address economic justice, farmworker immigration, protection of agricultural land resources and lasting viability for California family farms. Dave grew up in Modesto and studied agricultural and resource economics at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. He has devoted himself for many years to working on agricultural issues in the non-profit sector.
Dave has been a highly engaged member of the CalCAN coalition since its founding in 2009. He regularly contributes to our strategy development, serves as an advisor on numerous campaigns, and makes frequent visits to legislators and hearings. He also represents CAFF in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) on federal farm policy as well as on the newly-formed Organic Farmers Association.
In his role as CAFF’s Policy Director, Dave has been a consistent presence representing the interests and perspectives of California’s family farmers on state policy. He has built a reputation as a knowledgeable and credible resource to legislators and agencies, as well as being familiar with the issues, challenges and innovative stewardship practices of hundreds of farmers around the state.
In his acceptance speech, Dave took the opportunity to urge the hundreds of attendees to stay engaged in policy advocacy, ending by saying, “Please talk to your elected representatives and keep fighting for what you believe in” — a popular call to action with attendees of the EcoFarm Conference, judging by the enthusiastic standing ovation he received.