Producers and experts from across the country will share tips for transitioning into organic production and will discuss methods farmers can use to enhance organic operations at the Iowa Organic Conference Nov. 18-19 in Iowa City.
The 18th annual conference, a joint effort between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, will feature roundtable discussions, as well information from speakers on a wide variety of organic crop and livestock topics.
“The market for organic products in the United States reached $50 billion in 2017, and even with 5 million certified organic acres in the U.S., the demand for organic grains and produce continues to exceed supply,” says Kathleen Delate, a professor and ISU Extension organic specialist in horticulture and agronomy. “Growers everywhere are encouraged to consider the potential for organic production to reap premium prices and environmental benefits.”
Sustainability through organic
The conference’s keynote speaker is David Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington and author of “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations.”
Montgomery is a world-renowned geologist who studies the influence of processes on ecological systems and human societies. He brings a message of hope for renewing depleted agricultural systems by using carbon-enhancing methods and materials like cover crops and compost. His keynote talk is titled, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.”
The Iowa Organic Conference begins at 6 p.m. Nov. 18, with a reception in the UI Memorial Union with local and organic food and drinks. The lunch on Nov. 19 highlights local and organic produce, meats, and dairy products assembled into a gourmet meal by Barry Greenberg, executive chef, and his UI Dining team.
Nov. 19’s break-out sessions start at 8 a.m. and include information on transitioning into organic farming, weed management, organic livestock processing, organic no-till and growing alternative crops such as small grains and edible beans.
Liz Carlisle, lecturer at Stanford University and author of “Lentil Underground,” will speak with a Montana farmer Dave Oien. They will talk about the many benefits of growing edible beans.
The conference also includes information on water quality, economics of organic production, and local food system initiatives, such as Feed Iowa First and Global Greens.
Largest university-sponsored organic conference
“The Iowa Organic Conference is the largest university-sponsored organic conference in the country,” says Delate. “Last year’s conference brought over 40 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 wet weather at planting this past spring and now at harvest, and drought in July in many parts of the state, “organic farmers are anticipating successful organic yields in 2018, with organic soybean prices currently averaging $18.50 per bushel and organic corn at $9.75 per bushel,” Delete says.
Register for best prices
Go online to register. Registration is $100 until Nov. 11 and $120 after that date. Hotel rooms are available at the Iowa House Hotel for Nov. 18. Guests may access room reservations at iowahousehotel.com and enter group number 1280, or by calling the hotel at 319-335-3513 and mentioning Iowa Organic Conference.
For additional information and directions to the conference, contact Kathleen Delate at [email protected] or 515-294-5116.
Source: Iowa State University