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2019 OGRAIN Organic Grain Conference offered in January

Farmers interested in transitioning to organic grain or improving their existing organic grain systems are invited to attend the 2019 OGRAIN Organic Grain Conference, set for January, 25-26, 2019 on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.

The two-day conference is designed to provide farmers with the knowledge and networks necessary to succeed in growing and marketing organic grains in the Upper Midwest. It is offered by the UW–Madison’s Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN), in partnership with the UW Farm and Industry Short Course, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.

“With continued reports of farm bankruptcies and hard economic times in our agricultural communities, organic grain still offers a strong domestic market for farmers with prices that allow farms of all scales to make a living,” says OGRAIN program leader Erin Silva, UW-Madison assistant professor and extension specialist in the plant pathology department. “The conference workshops will span production and marketing issues that transitioning, beginning and experienced organic grain farmers of all sizes wrestle with.”

The conference will feature expert presentations, engaging panels, and productive discussions led by experienced organic farmers, researchers, agency personnel and industry representatives. All aspects of organic grain production will be covered, including weed, fertility and disease management; state-of-the-art equipment for organic farmers; marketing and financial planning; organic certification; variety selection; and cover crops, rotations and soil health.

The event’s keynote speaker is Jeff Moyer, executive director of the Rodale Institute, an organization that provides leadership in organic research and education. Moyer is known world-wide for his expertise in organic production, particularly with organic no-till practices. Moyer will also lead a series of workshops on Jan. 25 focused on implementing organic no-till practices on organic farming operations.

Another highlight of the event will be a talk by organic farmer Tom Frantzen, who will share his experiences with organic production in a presentation titled “Values-oriented decision making: Improving every year based upon past lessons.”

There will be a special roundtable event ahead of the main conference, held on the evening of Jan. 24. This gathering, which requires separate registration and fee, is designed to facilitate farmer-to-farmer dialogue on experiences with organic no-till production. Space is limited for this special session, so sign up early.

Anyone interested in transitioning to organic or improving their organic farming systems will find something of value at the event, including conventional producers interested in exploring the transition to organic grain production; livestock farmers interested in growing their own feed; produce growers curious about adding grain to their system; or anyone considering or currently growing organic grain.

“The event will provide valuable tips and techniques for any type of farmer who wants to have less reliance on chemical inputs, improve soil health and their bottom line,” says Harriet Behar, organic specialist with OGRAIN.

For more information and to register, visit https://ograin.cals.wisc.edu/. The cost is $70 for early registration (before Jan. 11) and $90 for regular registration (open through Jan. 21). A limited number of walk-in registrations will be available for $100. The registration fee includes breakfast and lunch on both days of the conference, as well as a resource manual.

For questions, please contact Harriet Behar at harriet.organic@gmail.com or (608) 872-2164.

This conference is made possible by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. OGRAIN is a collaborative effort between the UW–Madison’s Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems lab, Division of Extension, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and Farm and Industry Short Course, as well as the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.

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