Rocky Mount conference, Feb. 12, focuses on growing organic market

Date posted: January 27, 2014

Media Contacts: Fred Broadwell, 919.542.2402 or Fred@carolinafarmstewards.org
Chris Reberg-Horton, 919.515.7597 or chris_reberg-horton@ncsu.edu

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), in partnership with North Carolina State University, will host the 5th annual Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference on Feb. 12. The one-day event will take place in Rocky Mount at Nash Community College’s Brown Auditorium Business & Industry Center.

North Carolina’s organic sector is growing at a rapid pace, and demand for organic crops and livestock has never been higher. The conference is geared for farmers who grow on a larger scale and are interested in learning more about large-scale organic production beyond farmers markets and Community-Supported Agriculture programs.

This year’s event will include a vendors’ exhibit hall and nine workshops, featuring experts from all over the country on organic grains, organic soil fertility, meat marketing, holistic animal management, organic inputs and becoming retail-ready for commodity vegetables. Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with commercial-scale organic producers and organic commodity and livestock experts. Staff from CFSA will share resources for making the transition to organic, and representatives from N.C. State will be on hand to answer questions about organics and offer resources.

Presenters from N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences include Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton, Department of Crop Science; Dr. Julie Grossman, Department of Soil Science; and Gary Bullen, Agricultural and Resource Economics Department.

The keynote speaker this year is Oren Holle, President of OFARM – an innovative organic marketing coalition based in the Midwest.  By banding together several marketing co-ops, OFARM has created a powerful bargaining organization, which is commanding higher and more consistent prices for organic commodities. Holle will talk about plans to expand OFARM to the Southeast, as well as his personal experience working with the coalition and the benefits to his large-scale Kansas farm.

“We expect a good crowd of commodity-scale organic growers, including folks growing grains, tobacco, vegetables and livestock, as well as farmers who are thinking about switching some or all of their acreage to organic,” said Roland McReynolds, CFSA executive director. “These are exciting times for farmers to take advantage of the bottom-line benefits of going organic. Demand just keeps outstripping the supply.”

Cost to attend the event is $45 and includes lunch. For a full list of workshops and to register for the conference, go to www.carolinafarmstewards.org/oclc, or call the CFSA office at 919.542.2402.

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