Country’s largest organic farming conference nears

posted Jan. 9, 2018 7:19 a.m. (CDT)
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    More than 3,000 farmers and agriculture professionals are expected to gather Feb. 22-24 in La Crosse for the 29th Annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference.

More than 3,000 farmers and agriculture professionals are expected to gather in La Crosse Feb. 22-24 for the 29th annual Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Organic Farming Conference.

The conference features 66 workshops in tracks such as field crops, livestock, dairy, vegetables and specialty crops, as well as soil health, farm policy and business strategies. Examples of popular workshop topics include Integrate Cover Crops in Row Crops, Technology for Enhanced Profitability, High-Density Grazing for Soil Health, Brand Your Booth for More Sales, and Painless Organic Certification.

“The MOSES Conference is a gold mine,” said Steve McCaffrey, a farmer from Dixon, Ill, who has attended the conference the past three years. “There’s no better forum for learning about organic practices — for transitioning farmers to experienced organic farmers.”

Farmers can dig more deeply into a topic at an all-day Organic University course Thursday, Feb. 22. There are 11 courses with topics such as biological orcharding, hoophouse production, organic transition, ecological weed management, and organic pastured beef. The advance registration price is $180 through Feb. 8; on-site price is $220 for unfilled courses. See the course descriptions at OrganicUniversity.org.

Keynote speakers for the 2018 MOSES Conference are John Mesko, Melinda Hemmelgarn, and Chris Blanchard.

Mesko heads MOSES and owns a grass-fed beef operation in Minnesota. He’ll explore the influence the organic movement has had on agriculture, and how it could impact the future of farming.

Hemmelgarn is a registered dietitian and host of the nationally syndicated Food Sleuth Radio show. She’ll share reasons and ideas for reforming the nation’s food system.

Blanchard hosts the Farmer to Farmer Podcast. He’ll draw on insights gleaned from the podcast to talk about ways farmers can create a positive work-life balance.

In addition to educational opportunities, the conference offers a two-floor exhibit hall with more than 170 exhibitors, including organic crop buyers, certification agencies, seed and tool suppliers, and other organizations that offer products, information or services to help farmers succeed. The event also has a bookstore with a wide selection of farming books, including presenter-recommended titles.

Conference registration includes admission to the exhibit hall, workshops, organic meals, and evening entertainment. Advance registration is $225 through Feb. 8; on-site price is $300. See complete details and register online at mosesorganic.org/​conference. To request a conference guide with a mail-in registration form, call 715-778-5775.

StoryCorps, the national oral history project, will be at MOSES 2018 to capture stories of farm transfer. A growing number of farmers are nearing retirement age, many without an heir to take over the farm. StoryCorps plans to interview retiring farmers who have found an unrelated successor to carry on farming. Farmers and successors can sign up for a limited number of interview slots by emailing bailey@mosesorganic.org.

MOSES is a nonprofit organization that promotes organic and sustainable agriculture by providing farmers with education, resources, and practical advice.






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