SPOKANE – The impact of rising energy prices on food prices and income inequality in America will be featured topics as nearly 400 Washington State University Extension educators from throughout the state gather in Spokane March 6 – 8.
 
“Envision, Empower, Evolve” is the theme for the bi-annual, All-Extension Conference, which will be held at the Red Lion Inn at the Park and the WSU Spokane campus.
 
“The theme was thoughtfully chosen to provide a framework for discussing emerging issues of Extension, such as the changing demographics and cultural diversity of the state and region, the complex problems we face as a nation dependent on fossil fuels and how we, as the state’s land-grant research university can respond,” said Linda Kirk Fox, WSU Extension dean.
 
Paul Roberts, author of “The End of Oil,” will speak on “Food Fuel: The Oil Crunch and Its Implications for the Food Economy.” His presentation will run from 11 a.m. – noon, Tuesday, March 6, in Ballroom ABC at the Red Lion Inn at the Park. For nearly a century, cheap hydrocarbons have played a central role in the rise of a high-volume, low-cost globalized food economy. Roberts will focus his remarks on whether American producers and consumers should be preparing themselves for the end of cheap food as a result of rising energy prices.

Beth Shulman, author of “Betrayal of Work,” will discuss “Creating Family-Sustaining Jobs in the 21st Century” from 8:45 – 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 7, in Ballroom ABC. She contends that America has the worst income inequality since The Gilded Age of the late 19th Century. She will discuss alternatives to “ensure that hard-working Americans have a shot at the American Dream and that America’s jobs are family-sustaining jobs.”
 
The complete agenda for the conference is posted at http://ext.wsu.edu/aec/INDEX.html.