Fresh produce safety workshop in Casper

Fresh produce growers and buyers will learn appropriate agricultural practices to prevent food-borne illnesses as part of a two-day workshop in Casper.

“Good Agricultural Practices” is Thursday and Friday, April 9-10, at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel as part of the Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association’s annual conference.

“This workshop will benefit producers as well as those who buy and use local produce in inspected kitchens like schools, hospitals and restaurants,” said Cole Ehmke, University of Wyoming Extension specialist, who helped organize the sessions.

Recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses involving fresh and processed food products heightened public concern about food safety, he said. Illness-causing pathogens, such as salmonella and listeria, come from a variety of sources. The most common source is fecal matter, Ehmke said, which can be spread by water, wildlife, waste and workers.

Producers will stay competitive in the specialty produce business by becoming food safety compliant.

“Many fresh produce retailers now require their suppliers to have third-party audits to verify safe food production and handling practices on the farm,” he said.

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Organic farming conference focus reducing sustainable farming inputs

Jay Norton at a field day at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center field day.
Extension soil specialist Jay Norton

Information to reduce inputs for sustainable farming is being offered at the organic farming conference Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Torrington.

The second-annual conference, presented by the University of Wyoming Extension and University of Nebraska Extension, is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Rendezvous Center on the Goshen County Fairgrounds.

“Many of the agricultural priorities compiled from producers by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station recommend using alternative practices to reduce inputs of fertilizers and pesticides,” said Jay Norton, UW Extension soil specialist. “These alternatives include many of the same practices used in organic production, like cover crops, legumes in rotations, and using weed ecology to optimize herbicide effectiveness.”

Topics are:

* Soil fertility and cover crops

* Compost in dryland crop production

* Organic approaches to insect pest control

* Organic weed control

* Growing potatoes for organic starch

* Organic livestock production

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UW Extension offering Annie’s Project sessions in Worland

Mae Smith
Mae Smith

Sessions including estate planning, marketing, soil health and conflict management are part of the Annie’s Project program in Washakie County Feb. 9-March 16.

Sessions meet Mondays at the Washakie County University of Wyoming Extension office in Worland. Dinner is at 5:30 p.m. followed by the information session that lasts until 8:30 p.m. Sessions are interactive and full of discussion, said extension educator Mae Smith.

“Annie’s Project gives women the opportunity to learn from female agricultural professionals and connect with other women in similar situations to help them develop their management and decision-making skills,” she said.

Session dates and topics are:

Feb. 9 – How to handle change; time management

Feb. 16 – Estate planning; conflict management

Feb. 23 – Retirement planning; 4 P’s of marketing

March 2 – Personality assessment; soil health

March 9 – What lenders look for; investments; fraud protection

March 16 – Marketing and branding; local business success

Registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 6, and the fee is $55 and includes dinners. Scholarships are available courtesy of local sponsors. For registration and more information, contact extension educator Caitlin Price Youngquist at 307-347-3431 or cyoungqu@uwyo.edu.

Predator, soil health panels highlight WESTI Ag Days in Worland

UW Extension educators Donna Hoffman, left, and Hannah Swanbom at last year's WESTI Ag Days.
UW Extension educators Donna Hoffman, left, and Hannah Swanbom at last year’s WESTI Ag Days.

More than 30 sessions including panel discussions about predators and soil are part of WESTI Ag Days Tuesday-Wednesday, Feb. 3-4, in Worland.

WESTI (Wyoming Extension’s Strategically and Technologically Informative) Ag Days registration begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday with sessions beginning 9 a.m. both days at the Worland Community Center, said Caitlin Price Youngquist, University of Wyoming Extension educator. The schedule and more information is at http://bit.ly/2015westi.

Representatives from the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station want to know what unique problems face Wyoming producers and how to address them. A listening session is 1-2:15 p.m. Tuesday. The session is part of a statewide effort to connect directly with producers, noted Youngquist. The AES has four research and extension centers across the state that feature crop and livestock research.

The special panel discussions are 1-2:15 p.m. Wednesday. “Soil Health and Wyoming Farmers” is hosted by extension soil specialist Jay Norton with producers Vance Lungren Jr. of Worland, Greg Schlemmer of Joliet, Mont., and Peter Kukowski of Powell.

“Large Predators and Wyoming Ranchers” is hosted by extension educator Tara Kuipers with Mark McCartey of the Two Dot Ranch of Cody, Sublette County rancher Charles Price, Mike Jimenez of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Dan Thompson of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Other sessions over the two days address weeds and insects, livestock disease, agricultural finances, water, taxes and ownership transition.

Extension newsletter tackles southeast Wyoming production topics

crop update newsletter Southeast Wyoming crop and livestock production topics are included in a new University of Wyoming Extension electronic newsletter.

Extension educator Caleb Carter is author of “Wyoming High Plains Crop Update.”

 “I began the newsletter to cover topics pertinent to crop production and to help producers stay up-to-date in the fast-changing world of production agriculture and to spread the word about upcoming events and programs,” said Carter, who is based in Goshen County and serves southeast Wyoming.

 Topics covered so far have included lessons from the recent cheatgrass workshop in Goshen County, coverage of the 2014 farm bill, risk management tools, crop and livestock insurance updates, pasture and cropland leases, weed control and soil moisture monitoring

The newsletter has links to resources for weeds, forages and crops, crop variety trials, publications and research reports, an event calendar and an “Ask the Crops Guy” feature.

For more information or to receive the newsletter, contact Carter at ccarte13@uwyo.edu or 307-532-2436. Archived editions are at http://bit.ly/wyohpnewsletter.