14th Annual Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference to Feature SARE Grant Recipients
The Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference will be holding its 14th Annual Conference December 12-13 at the LaCrosse Center in LaCrosse, WI. The event, which attracts over 300 individuals from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin is being presented by River Country Resource, Conservation and Development Council and Wisconsin Farmers Union.
The theme for the 14th Annual Event, "Cultivating Profitability," highlights the conference’s focus on creating sustainable and profitable agricultural systems throughout the Midwest.
The Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference is an opportunity for farmers and local food advocates to make connections with each other and learn how to address real life issues. Learn how to expand the market for your products by utilizing traditional methods such as effective signage and social media marketing opportunities.
Keynote presentations will be offered by Laura Jackson, Professor of Biology at the University of Northern Iowa and author of "The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems;" Francis Thicke of Radiance Dairy in Fairfield, Iowa and author of "A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture: Sustainable Agriculture for the 21st Century;" and John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Missouri Columbia, and author of "Small Farms are Real Farms: Sustaining People Through Agriculture" and "Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense."
NCR-SARE will be hosting a Farmers Forum at the conference, which will feature several SARE grantees talking about their SARE projects:
- Heather Smith will talk about meeting seasonal labor demands by integrating a farm internship program.
- Claire Strader will talk about developing harvest task checklists to assist farmers in managing harvest crews.
- Kim Cassano will discuss alternative broiler breeds in three different pastured poultry systems.
- Larry Jacoby will talk about how he designed and piloted a mobile slaughter trailer for Halal custom slaughter of sheep and goats.
- Chris Blanchard and Linda Halley will talk about scaling up to meet market demand for local, organic broccoli.
- Erin Schneider and Rachel Henderson will discuss assessing the sustainability of growing non-traditional fruit tree crops in the Upper Midwest using a collaborative agro-forestry approach.
- Julie and Vince Maro will talk about how they explored the feasibility of establishing a Wisconsin hatchery for organically-raised pastured poultry chicks.
The conference will also feature a dinner banquet, presentation, and book signing with famed Wisconsin author and entertainer Michael Perry on Wednesday, December 12th. The food for the dinner banquet will be sourced from local farms and all proceeds will be used for farmer education programs in West Central Wisconsin.
The Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference comes at a time when the interest in locally sourced food is increasing. Small-scale farmers are developing niche markets, expanding product diversity and sustainability on the farm. At the same time we are seeing increasingly educated consumers reaching out to local farmers for fresh and wholesome foods. The stories and knowledge shared at this conference will enhance small-scale producers’ ability to create sustainable and profitable businesses that will meet the needs of a growing consumer base.
The Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference brings together people from a variety of different backgrounds that all have the same goal of creating sustainable local food systems, complete with thriving rural communities and a diverse and vibrant agricultural sector. It is brought to you, in part, by NCR-SARE. Be sure to bring your questions about SARE's grant and educational opportunities so you can discuss them with the SARE representatives at the conference.
For more information or to register for the conference please visit: http://www.rivercountryrcd.org/valad.html
Conference Coordinator Melanie Baumgart can answer any questions about the MVAAC at Melanie@Rivercountryrcd.org or 715-579-5013
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC06-633 , Evaluating the Effectiveness of Meeting Seasonal Labor Demands by Integrating a Farm Internship Program, FNC08-712, Developing Harvest Task Checklists to Assist Farmers in Managing Harvest Crews, FNC09-771, Alternative Broiler Breeds In Three Different Pastured Poultry Systems, FNC05-584, Design and Pilot a State Approved Mobile Slaughter Trailer for Halal Custom Slaughter, FNC10-840, Scaling Up to Meet Market Demand for Local, Organic Broccoli, FNC08-718, Assessing the Sustainability of Growing Non-traditional Fruit Tree Crops in the Upper Midwest: A collaborative agro-forestry approach, and FNC04-535, Establishing a Wisconsin Hatchery to Produce and Sell Organically Raised Pastured Poultry Chicks.