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.