The 14th Annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held Nov. 16-17 on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, as a joint effort between Iowa State University and the UI Office of Sustainability. Producers and experts from across the country will share tips for transitioning into organic production and methods to enhance organic farming operations.
"The U.S. market for organic products reached $31.3 billion in 2012 and the demand for organic grains and produce continues to exceed supply," says Kathleen Delate, ISU organic agriculture specialist. "Growers everywhere are encouraged to consider the potential for organic production." For more information, visit the ISU Extension Organic Agriculture website.
The conference keynote speaker this year is Mary Berry, daughter of Wendell Berry, novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic and farmer.
Conference offers new information for organic producers
Ms. Berry speaks all over the country as a proponent of agriculture of the middle, in defense of small farmers, and in the hope of restoring a culture that has been lost in rural America. Her works promoting soil conservation and an ecological agriculture are echoed in one of her sayings: "A society that is satisfied with short term economics while destroying the source of its own survival [the soil] cannot last."
A reception, featuring local and organic food and drinks will kick off the conference on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. in the UI Memorial Union, followed by the movie, "Fresh" at 7 p.m., which explores the growing influence of local and organic markets in the U.S.
The conference lunch on Monday afternoon highlights local and organic produce, meats and dairy products assembled into a gourmet meal by UI award-winning executive chef, Barry Greenberg. The conference offers an abundance of new and useful information for organic producers.
Learn latest techniques to transition into organic farming
Sessions for those interested in learning about the latest techniques for transitioning into organic farming, or improving organic operation, will include lessons on weed management, nutrient management, pest management and livestock integration.
The conference also includes information on how to begin farming, soil and water quality initiatives and government programs, crop insurance, compliance with food safety regulations, alternative energy projects, and markets for organic grain, vegetable and fruit crops. Organic farmers, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists, government agency staff and others with unique experience related to organic agriculture and sustainable living also will be speaking at the conference.
Largest university-sponsored organic conference in U.S.
"The Iowa Organic Conference is the largest University-sponsored organic conference in the country," says Delate. Last year's conference brought 50 exhibitors, ranging from organic seed sales, to local food system nonprofits, to government offices working with transitioning and certified organic farmers. Despite the challenges of extreme weather this year, organic farmers are anticipating successful organic yields with organic soybean prices currently averaging $26 per bushel and organic corn at $11 per bushel.
The cost of the conference is $95 on or before Nov. 7 and $115 after Nov. 7.
Conference information is available online with the link to registration at www.signmeup.com. For additional conference information and directions to the conference, visit the webpage or contact [email protected]. Conference partners include Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, New Pioneer Co-op, Organic Valley, Iowa Dept. of Ag. and Land Stewardship, and Practical Farmers of Iowa.