SPI Advisory Team
Advisory Team Bios
(alphabetical by last name)
Robin Barthen, Texas Department of Agriculture
Bio coming soon...
Sue Beckwith, Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF)
Sue Beckwith is the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF). TCLF collaborates with organizations across Texas and the U.S. to develop local food enterprises that support Texas sustainable agriculture and rural job creation. Sue is a former farmer and past president of TOFGA, and she was the start up project manager for Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill, the first certified organic commercial feed mill in Texas. She lives in Elgin, Texas. Content from tofga.org.
Jay Bragg, Texas Farm Bureau
Jay Bragg works to implement a state and national program to influence the decisions of government agencies on rules and regulations that affect farmers and ranchers. Jay also is responsible for staffing organizational Commodity and Issues Advisory Committees and providing staff leadership on environmental and natural resources issues. His areas of focus are water and natural resources, farm labor, horticultural crops, honey and apiculture, and small farm and ranch issues. Prior to joining Texas Farm Bureau, Jay spend six years as the Regional Environmental Planner for the Brazos River Authority and four years as the Grant Coordinator for the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. Jay graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry with a BS in Environmental Science and a minor in Marketing.
Brian Bruner, Rancher & Texas State Faculty
Bio coming soon...
Alex Canepa, Sustainable Food Center (SFC)
Alex Canepa provides strategic guidance to the Sustainable Food Center’s farmers markets and leads the organizations policy efforts. He works to reduce the barriers that farmers and ranchers face brining their products to market. In order to realize a more just an equitable food system, Alex sends and receives emails, attends meetings, and grills hamburgers at farmer’s markets. Before arriving at the SFC, Alex worked on other things for other organizations including the National Farmers Market Coalition and Texas Senate. Alex holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a double first-class honors degree in History and Political Science.
Willie Durham, Agency Liason, NRCS
Willie teaches principles of soil health and agroecology throughout the United States. He began his agriculture career working as a field sales representative for Helena Chemical Company and Terra International, Inc. in the Rio Grande Valley in the mid 1990’s, becoming a Certified Crop Adviser in 1992. In 1995, he became the Regional Agronomist for Novartis Seeds (Syngenta). In 2001, he became a Conservation Agronomist for USDA-NRCS. In 2004, he was certified as a Professional Agronomist by the American Society of Agronomy. In 2006, he became the USDA-NRCS Resource Team Leader for Program and Technical Assistance in Uvalde, Medina, Kinney and Maverick counties. In 2009, he became State Conservation Agronomist in the Ecological Sciences Section for USDA -NRCS in Temple, Texas.
Jamey Gage, B5 Farms
Bio coming soon...
Lorig Hawkins, Farmer & Educator
Lorig Hawkins is an organic farmer and co-founder of the Texas Young Farmers’ Coalition. Ms. Hawkins serves on the boards of the Texas Center for Local Food and FarmShare Austin. She was previously the lead farmer for FarmShare Austin, where she trained beginning farmers. Ms. Hawkins holds two Bachelor’s degree, one in Film Theory and the other in General Kinesiology and is completing her masters in Agricultural Education at Texas State University. Content from texaslocalfood.org.
Lois Kim, Plantation Produce
Bio coming soon...
Marissa Lankes, Austin Community College - Sustainable Agriculture
Marissa began her agricultural career in 2009 and has farmed around the country, leading and and developing agricultural education programs in both California and Texas. She earned an M.Ed in agricultural education from Texas State University in 2016 and currently manages ACC's sustainable agriculture program. Content from austincc.edu.
Robert Maggiani, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
Robert Maggiani is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with NCAT in San Antonio. He has been with NCAT for five years and has authored or co-authored several ATTRA publications on food hubs, organic farming and drought resources for producers here in Texas. He earned BBA and MS degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and was an organic vegetable farmer in South Texas and Mexico in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Robert served as a Marketing Specialist with the Texas Department of Agriculture for 27 years, helping to start the state’s organic certification program in 1989. Robert has extensive contacts with growers, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, and specialty crop trade associations, and is fluent in Spanish. He is a member of the Board of Directors for TOFGA and is a member of the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA).
Jarred Maxwell, Austin Foodshed Investors
Jarred Maxwell leads Austin Foodshed Investor’s venture relations, guiding clients through the fundraising process, business analysis, and presentation preparation. He is an active angel investor in more than a dozen local socially responsible companies. He has served as Local Leader for Slow Money Austin since 2011 and helped found the Sustainable Texas Investment Club in 2010, the same year he founded The Happy Land Company, which specializes in the preservation of rural land. Prior to this, Jarred worked with the Luedecke Group of Austin and as an engineer at Dell. Jarred is a lifelong Texan and rancher, managing a 400-acre family ranch near Lampasas. He has a B.S. from UT, and lives in Central Austin with his wife Sommer and their young son. He is dedicated to healthy food, local economic vitality, support of small-scale businesses, re-invigoration of small towns and small family farms and ranches. Content from tofga.org.
Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA)
Judith McGeary is an attorney, activist, and sustainable farmer. She earned her B.S. from Stanford University and her law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. During that time, she became a passionate advocate of sustainable agriculture, and she and her husband established their own livestock farm. She founded the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance to promote common-sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems. Judith has been profiled in Civil Eats, the Texas Observer, and multiple Edible magazines, appears in the documentary Farmageddon, and has been interviewed on numerous radio shows across the country. Judith served as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health and currently serves on the Board of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Advisory Board of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Tim Miller, Millberg Farm
Tim P. Miller owner/operator of Millberg Farm in its 30th year of Certified Organic growing has continued to bring innovation with his alternative farming concepts on crop land that uses only small amounts of saved rainwater. From seed saving, flipping moveable fence system for pole bean growing and crop rotation, a mobile rainwater collection roof and utilizing trench composting are just some of his concepts for success. His endeavors have earned him recognition into the Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise book comprising 717 people and 2015 Blue Legacy Award for Water Conservation as a Producer.
Pedro Schambon, My Father's Farm
Pedro Schambon is the owner of My Father's Farm in Seguin, Texas, a certified organic farm with GAP/GHP certificates and in compliance with all new FSMA regulations. Pedro helped develop Pro-Farmer Solutions Software Management, a software built to help farmers manage the paperwork associated with food safety and organic certification programs.
Andrew Smiley, Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (TOFGA)
Andrew has 25 years of experience working in sustainable agriculture and food systems throughout the south, including 12 years with Sustainable Food Center in Austin, TX. Andrew recently served as manager of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Farm Aid Disaster Relief fund following Hurricane Harvey. Andrew was elected president of the TOFGA Board of Directors in February 2018 and is Policy Director for Kim Olson's Campaign for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Andrew continues to utilize his experience to build a more sustainable and equitable food system as a collaborator with organizations throughout the country.
Scott Sroufe, Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)
Scott Sroufe is a Marketing Coordinator with Texas Department of Agriculture’s Trade and Business Development Division where he works directly with Specialty Crop Marketing, Farmers Markets, and Certified Retirement Communities. Previously he worked for TDA in the Food and Nutrition Division as an Events Specialist working with exhibits, trade shows, and conferences for the agency. Before coming to TDA, Scott spent 20+ years in vocational ministry and several years in public education as a teacher. He received his B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Content from tofga.org.
Tim Traister, Capital Farm Credit
Tim Traister is a loan officer with Capital Farm Credit, where he specializes in land financing, small producers, and niche farming loans. Capital Farm Credit is a Co-op and the largest rural lender in Texas with over $7 billion in assets and over 20,000 members who share in its profits. Prior to joining CFC, Mr.Traister has worked in the commercial banking and real estate sectors, where he has been involved in over $1 billion in real estate transactions across the United States from single family homes to large ranches to high-rise office towers. Tim grew up in Austin and attended Texas A&M where he received his Bachelors in Accounting and Masters in Land Economics Real Estate Finance.
Eric de Valpine, Austin Foodshed Investors
Bio coming soon...