The “Make Mine Organic!” conference
Popular Midwest organic ag conference announces 2005 theme

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.

Results in black and white: 1500 people attended last year's conference. Above: picture from the busy conference exhibit hall.

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.

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.