With domestic demand for organic grains still outpacing supply, farmers of all scales have the opportunity to earn the higher prices associated with organic products while building production resiliency and expanding sales opportunities. A conference offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) and the Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) will give farmers the skills, concepts and network necessary to succeed in growing and marketing organic grains in the Upper Midwest.
The 2018 OGRAIN Organic Grain Conference will be held January 26-27, 2018 on the UW-Madison campus. Participants will enjoy two full days of expert presentations, engaging panels, productive discussions and time to meet other farmers interested in organic grain production in the Upper Midwest.
The conference will cover soil health, cover cropping, organic no-till, production of specialty cereal grains, marketing, organic certification, post-harvest handling, financial planning, and management of insects, weeds, and diseases. Attendees can visit over 20 business and non-profit booths and will receive an organic resource book. Workshops will include presentations, panels and discussions led by experienced organic farmers, researchers, agency personnel and industry representatives.
“The workshops over the two days will span production and marketing issues that transitioning, beginning and experienced organic grain farmers of all sizes wrestle with,” says Erin Silva, UW-Extension specialist in organic agriculture, assistant professor of plant pathology and program leader for OGRAIN. “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 will find something of value at the event.”
A highlight of the conference will be a keynote address and workshops by Klaas Martens of Lakeview Organic Grain, in Penn Yan, NY. Klaas, along with his wife Mary-Howell and son Peter, has been farming organically for over 20 years and is recognized as an organic leader due to his excellence in production of many types of organic grains.
“A strong demand for domestically produced organic wheat, barley, oats, specialty grains, corn, beans and forage provides a wide variety of opportunities for the aspiring organic grower and those who are looking to diversify their operations,” says Harriet Behar, organic production specialist. “Transitioning to organic, as well as improving organic farming systems, is a key focus of this conference, which will provide valuable tips and techniques for any type of farmer who wants to have less reliance on chemical inputs and improve soil health and their bottom line.”
The cost for participants is $80 for both days. Registration includes breakfast and lunch. For more information and to register, visit ograin.triforce.cals.wisc.edu. Questions? Call or send an email to Harriet Behar, (608) 872-2164. Mail and on-line registrations will be accepted until January 22, 2018. Walk-ins will be accommodated if possible but are not guaranteed – please contact the organizers prior to arriving to ensure that space is available.
This seminar is made possible by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. OGRAIN is a collaborative effort between UW-Madison’s Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems lab, University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX), Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), and the Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC).