Workshops slated for farmers, food processors considering organic

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“Thinking of Transitioning to Organic?” a workshop series presented by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Dane County Extension, will be held Feb. 4 and 5, at the DATCP Building, 702 Agricultural Drive, Madison.

A workshop for dairy farmers will be held Feb. 4 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Participants will hear from speakers directly involved in the organic dairy industry, as well as farmers who have successfully made the transition to organic.

Topics include an overview of organic certification requirements; financing/crop insurance and risk management, livestock health and management; soils/cover crops and pasture management; and markets and pricing. The list of speakers includes: Allen Philo, Midwestern BioAg; Harriet Behar, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service; and Guy Jodarski, Organic Valley.

Food processors wondering about organic market opportunities and whether organic is right for them can address questions to experts from two certifying agencies at a workshop on Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Topics to be examined include organic standards and requirements, market opportunities, and ingredient/processing aids. Speakers include Michelle Menken of Minnesota Crop Improvement Association; and Joe Pedretti, Midwest Organic Services Association.

Event organizers Angie Sullivan, an agriculture program specialist with DATCP, and Theresa Feiner, a DATCP business development specialist, said they organized the workshop series after hearing from increasing numbers of dairy farmers and food processors expressing interest in organics.

“Not everybody is definitely interested in making the transition – they're just wondering what it takes and whether it's right for them,” said Sullivan. “We want to give farmers who are considering transitioning to organic as much information as we can, so they can make an informed decision and decide if organic is right for them. “We're doing that in a forum that allows them to ask all their questions.” 

 “With Wisconsin having the second highest number of organic farms in the nation, organic processors have the opportunity to access organic product from Wisconsin farmers,” said Feiner. “The experts we've gathered for these workshops will be able to answer questions about what it means to be an organic processor.”

For more information about the Feb 4 workshop (dairy farmers), contact Angie Sullivan at 608-224-5095 or [email protected]. For more information about the Feb. 5 workshop (food processors), contact Theresa Feiner at 608-224-5140 or [email protected]

To register, visit: http://counties.uwex.edu/dane/?p=6125  

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