Posted, January 28, 2005: The 16th annual Upper Midwest Organic
Farming Conference has been set for February 25-26 at
the La Crosse Center in La Crosse Wisconsin. Conference
organizers from MOSES, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable
Education Service, anticipate attendance to exceed the
1500 people that attended in 2004, as a growing number
of Midwestern producers attempt to satisfy the growing
demand for organically produced food.
The conference has become known as a key educational event
in the organic farming community in the U.S., not only
because it is the largest conference of its kind, but
also due to its practical, how-to workshops designed to
help farmers make the transition to organic farming. According
to Jim Riddle, organic farmer, inspector and certification
trainer from Winona, Minnesota, "The Upper Midwest
Conference is really the premier place for farmers to
come in order to learn from one another, and connect with
the organic suppliers and infrastructure necessary to
make your farm organic." Riddle is the chairman of
the USDA's National Organic Standards Board and currently
works as an organic policy specialist with the Rodale
Institute’s online magazine newfarm.org.
|Results in black
and white: 1500 people attended last
year's conference. Above: picture from the
busy conference exhibit hall.
While continuing to emphasize the how-to tips that
farmers need in order to succeed in the organic farming
community, this year’s conference theme, “Make
Mine Organic!” will also provide attendees with
an understanding of the dramatically growing consumer
demand for organic products. Organic agriculture has
experienced rapid growth the last ten years, yet it
is one area of the food production industry where consumer
demand is set to exceed current production capacity.
According to Faye Jones, executive director of MOSES,
consumer sales of organic foods have grown by 20% per
year for each of the past 10 years.
“We really are seeing no end to this growing
consumer demand,” Jones says “Now we’re
at the point where we need to dramatically increase
the number of farmers able to produce for this market,
and they’ll receive a significant on-farm price
premium for doing so.”
Jones adds that demand is growing for organic dairy,
meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables as well as feed grains
like corn and soybeans.
This year’s conference will feature 48 workshop
topics, 130 exhibitors, and keynote addresses by Riddle;
photographer and video producer, Cynthia Vagnetti; farmer
and cultural organizer, Audrey Arner; and Land Stewardship
Project Associate Director and author, Dana Jackson.
A one-day Organic University on Thursday, February 24th
with nine separate intensive day-long classes on specific
production methods will precede the weekend conference.
Registration is $160 for the conference, which includes
activities on Thursday evening, all day Friday and Saturday,
as well as breakfast, lunches and breaks. Food and drink
at the conference is organically and locally produced
whenever possible. The latest conference information
can be found at www.mosesorganic.org.
Conference brochures are available by contacting MOSES
at: info@ mosesorganic.org
or by phone715-772-3153.