There is still time to pre-register for Practical Farmers of Iowa's 2014 annual conference which will take place January 24-25 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. Walk-in registrants are welcome, but those who pre-register by January 15 will pay a reduced fee and be guaranteed space to the "All-Iowa" lunch on Saturday Jan. 25, a conference tradition featuring food from PFI member farms.
This year's event – which extends last year's focus on sustaining soil health with a spotlight on cover crops and extended rotations – offers something for everyone, from farmers and local food enthusiasts to landowners and consumers who want to learn more about Iowa agriculture. Register online or contact Erica Andorf at [email protected] or (515) 232-5661. Special rates are available for students and Practical Farmers members who pre-register by January 15. After that, rates increase by $10 per day for everyone except students.
Keynote address will explore how Iowa can once again revolutionize agriculture
In addition to two full tracks each for row-crop and fruit and vegetable farmers, the conference will feature a myriad of sessions for all interested in food and farming – as well as a special keynote address by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food & Environment Program at Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. In his keynote talk, "True Wealth: How Iowa Can Once Again Revolutionize Agriculture," Salvador will explore how knowledge gained from the first century of "modern agriculture" can inform the best approaches moving forward. Before UCS, he was an associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University, where he taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university. Next, he worked for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He will deliver his keynote speech on Friday at 5:30 p.m.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
In "The Art of Fermentation," another unique discussion topic which runs from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, food enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers can learn from fermentation master Sandor Katz about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments, the integral role these foods have played in human cultural evolution and how simple it is to make kimchi, kefir and other fermented food products. Sandor, a bestselling author, is one of the leading experts on fermented foods. His latest book, "The Art of Fermentation," won a James Beard Award in 2012.
Other issues to be covered at the conference include pesticide spray drift and neighbors, sustainable investments in farmland, financing your farm business, estate planning, and more
Farmer supporters, landowners and farmers who care about Iowa's future can come together for lively dialogue and conversation on several issues affecting all Iowans:
* Join others in discussing how Iowa's people and land can be wisely harnessed to build a better future in "True Wealth: Keynote Follow-Up," a Saturday session follow-up to Friday's keynote address by Ricardo Salvador.
* Learn about the issue of spray drift, share your thoughts and discuss possible solutions in "Over the Fence: Discussing Spray Drift with Neighbors," on Saturday morning. Want to tackle the question in more depth? A Saturday afternoon session will provide space to consider policy angles in "Policy to Protect People and Land from Pesticide Drift."
* Are you concerned about high land prices or land access for the next generation of farmers? Take part in a more informal discussion over breakfast on Saturday morning about one company's novel approach to this issue in "Sustainable Farmland Investing with Iroquois Valley Farms."
* Food entrepreneurs, small-business owners and farmers will all benefit from "Raising Dough: Financing Your Farm Business." In this session, you'll learn from food finance expert Elizabeth Ü about the diverse financing options available to fund your food-centered business or farm. Elizabeth is author of "Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business" (2013), and founder and executive director of Finance for Food.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
* Landowners and farm families with transition questions will also find sessions planned for them. In "Estate Planning for the Farm: Case Studies and Considerations," on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., you'll learn about estate, gift tax and non-tax issues to consider as you plan for the future of your farm or farmland. Later in the day, engage in a facilitated discussion with others in a session on "Non-Operator Landowners and our Changing Agriculture."
* Do you have a unique farm story, a cause you care about or a business you're trying to promote? If so, you'll want to attend "Telling Your Farm Story to Make a Difference," on Saturday morning. In this session, you'll learn the basics of crafting your specific story, as well as tips on effective presentation techniques that move people to action.
Conference offers 20 other in-depth workshops on field crops, fruit and vegetable production, grazing, livestock production, soil conservation, etc.
In addition to these sessions, the conference will feature 20 other in-depth workshops spanning an array of topics including field crops, fruit and vegetable production, grazing and livestock production, and soil and water conservation issues. There will be 10 other Saturday morning breakfast sessions; and five other in-depth "U-Pick" sessions on topics selected this fall by Practical Farmers members.
Pre-conference short courses: PFI is also offering two pre-conference short courses – "Restoration Agriculture 101" and "Achieve the Triple Bottom Line with Holistic Management" – that run Thursday, Jan. 23 from 1 to 7 p.m. and continue Jan. 24 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Both courses cost $50 for Practical Farmers members, and $65 for non-members, and will be held at Oakwood Road Church, on the south side of Ames.
To access the full conference program, registration details or to register online, visit the PFI website. PFI's 2014 annual conference is supported by several major sponsors, including: Ag Ventures Alliance; Albert Lea Seed; Calcium Products; eMerge Genetics by Schillinger; FHR Farms, Inc.; Genesys Grain Genetics; Iowa Farm Bureau Federation; Iowa Learning Farms; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy and Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Iowa SARE; Iroquois Valley Farms, LLC; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Saddle Butte Ag Inc.; Sustainable Farm Partners; and WeedGuardPlus.