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Ag Briefs: Film festival added to organic conference lineup

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announces two additions to the 2009 Minnesota Organic Conference to be held at the St. Cloud Civic Center Jan. 16-17.

A free mini-film festival featuring "Good Food: a Collection of Short Films about Food and Sustainability" has been added Friday evening, Jan. 16. From singing peanuts to teenage tomato-growers, these films will make you laugh and think, and inspire you to take action for a healthy, sustainable, and delicious future. The film starts at 8 p.m., and members of the general public may attend this event free of charge.

On Saturday, Jan. 17, Wisconsin large animal veterinarian Guy Jodarski will offer a breakout session called "Stop the Whoozing and the Losing - Keeping Young Stock Alive and Healthy the Organic Way."

"We want this conference to provide basic, introductory-level information for new or prospective organic farmers, and advanced information for experienced producers," said MDA Organic and Diversification Specialist Meg Moynihan. Speakers include 16 certified organic farmers, as well as agency staff, industry experts, and university researchers and extension educators, she added.

Some of the more than 30 breakout sessions on the conference agenda include: "How to Start a CSA," "Small Scale and Inexpensive Methane Digester Designs for Any Size Farm," "Direct Marketing Meat," "Transitioning to Organic Production," "Dry Bean Production and Marketing," and "Outwitting Weeds - What You Need to Know."

The cost of the two day conference is $125, with discounts for additional people from the same family or farming operation. The cost includes the conference, trade show, breaks, and lunches. A single-day registration option is also available. View and download the full conference brochure and registration form at or call 651-201-6012 to request information by mail.

In addition to the MDA, major conference sponsors include the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Horizon Organic, Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, and USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).