Ferd Hoefner is a Washington, D.C.-based consultant working on behalf of multiple organizations with interests in federal farm, food, and environmental policy. For 34 years prior to 2021, Ferd worked for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), including 30 years as its policy director and lead Washington representative, and another 4 years as senior strategic advisor. Ferd is a veteran of nine federal farm bill campaigns over a 43-year span, including five as NSAC’s policy director, two as a policy advocate for the Interreligious Taskforce on US Food Policy, and one as an intern for a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. He has also worked extensively on budget, appropriations, tax reform, food safety, and environmental legislation.
A graduate of Oberlin College (B.A., Government), Hoefner also did graduate work in ethics, economics, and public policy at Wesley Theological Seminary and American University. Ferd was presented with a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2018 and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Hero Award in 2017, has served since 2014 on the Board of the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation, and is featured on the National Sustainable Agriculture Oral History Archive housed at the University of Minnesota.
Some examples of the many federal programs Ferd played a leading role in developing and championing are the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education or SARE program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Conservation Reserve’s Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers initiative, Farm Ownership Loans targeted to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, the Beginning Farmer Down Payment Loan Program, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, the Organic Certification Cost Share Program, the Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Farm to School Grant program, and the Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program.
He also led the DC advocacy work that resulted in eight successful amendments to the Food Safety Modernization Act to ensure the law protected conservation and wildlife, organic farming, small and mid-scale farms, and local and regional food systems, and helped secure annual funding for sustainable agriculture and food system programs and research projects during numerous annual agricultural appropriations campaigns. Among his contributions during his early work with the ecumenical religious community were help leading campaigns to win federal farm loans for limited resource farmers, creation of the international emergency wheat reserve, conservation compliance for soil conservation and wetland protection, and limitations on agricultural tax shelters.