Producers attending annual Wyoming conference tout organic benefits

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Nate Powell-Palm, who serves on the governing council of the Organic Farmers Association, was a guest speaker at the organic growers organic growers conference. He has served as vice president and president of the Montana Organic Growers Producers Co-op. He raises organic cattle and grain near Bozeman.

There was no guarantee in 1980 that farmer-by-day and songwriter-when-time-allowed Mark Jones wouldn’t be singing the bankrupt blues in just a few years.

He had taken over the family’s four properties in Nebraska when his father died. They were swirling in debt.

Jones, who was attending his sixth organic growers conference in Cheyenne last month, said he clamped down on every expense in an attempt to stay afloat.

He said switching to organic agriculture 35 years ago saved his farms.

“My wife, Marcy, is the one who got us lined up and enthusiastic about being organic. We could not have done it with Marcy,” he said.

Jones, who farms near Oshkosh, Nebr.,  is an enthusiastic organic production supporter and said he attends such conferences to lend support for others.

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Organic producer suggestions, certification workshop during annual Cheyenne conference

John Gordon of Carpenter checks a box of resources and tools passed among attendees during UW Extension educator Caitlin Youngquist’s presentation “Measuring Soil Health and Fertility in the Lab and Field” at last year’s conference.

Organic grain, vegetable and livestock producers will share information about their operations during the High Plains Organic Farming Conference in Cheyenne this February.

The fifth-annual meeting is Tuesday-Wednesday, Feb. 27-28, at Laramie County Community College, said Jay Norton, University of Wyoming Extension soils specialist and conference organizer.

“This year’s conference is shaping up to be the best yet, with concurrent symposia focused on dryland grain systems, intensive vegetable production, and livestock systems plus a keynote address on the changing policy environment in Washington, D.C.,” said Norton.

The detailed agenda is at www.highplainsorganic.org.

A half-day organic certification workshop Tuesday afternoon features step-by-step procedures for getting and staying certified, said Norton, an associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at UW.

The day includes a session on record keeping and a panel discussion including producers who have participated in technical and financial assistance programs for organic transition and certification.

Producers will share information for dryland systems, intensive vegetable production and livestock systems Wednesday morning, followed by concurrent technical sessions featuring scientists and educators from Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming during a total of 16 sessions that day.

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Cheyenne organic conference illustrates certification, production systems

UW Extension educator Caleb Carter of Goshen County and UW assistant professor of agroecology Randa Jabbour during last year’s conference in Cheyenne.

Registration is now open for the fourth-annual High Plains Organic Farming Conference in Cheyenne.

Sessions are Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 21-22, at Laramie County Community College, said Jay Norton, University of Wyoming Extension soils specialist.

The organic certification workshop is Tuesday. A series of speakers will discuss National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, electronic tools for organic farmers and financial and technical assistance.

A range of topics is Wednesday. Selected growers, researchers and NOP experts will provide information about organic livestock, crop and forage production, said Erin Rooney, UW soil science graduate student. Participants will also explore creating an organic association between states.

There is a fee to register, and lunch is provided. To register and for more information, go to http://bit.ly/2017organic, or contact Rooney at (970) 217-3362 or erooney1@uwyo.edu. Registration can also be paid at the door, but seating is limited to 100.