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MDA offers winter workshops in 2013

Help keep the winter doldrums at bay by attending a series of workshops sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in January.

Four workshops on a diverse array of farming topics will be offered Thursday, January 10, 2013 at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.

Registration materials are available at or by calling the MDA at 651-201-6012 and asking for a "Winter Workshops" brochure.

The workshops include:

• Building Better Bovines: Selection, Breeding, and Management for Top Returns, presented by Gearld Fry, Bovine Engineering & Consulting, is an intensive workshop in which Fry will teach how to use observation to assess the genetic potential of cattle, and how to select, breed, and develop a bovine body type that gives the highest possible return from grass. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fee: $50.

• Meat Sales: The Rules and The Processing, a panel discussion hosted by MDA Meat Inspection Compliance Officer Levi Muhl, is designed for livestock producers who currently sell meat or poultry and for those who want to start. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fee: $40

• Understanding Soil Health, presented by biological soil expert Gary Zimmer and his colleagues from Midwestern BioAg and Otter Creek Organic Farm. 1-5 p.m. Fee: $25

• Growing and Marketing Specialty Mushrooms: Oyster, Shiitake and Winecap, presented by Joe Krawczyk, Field & Forest Mushrooms. This workshop covers the topic of growing high quality mushrooms at any scale. Drawing on three decades of experience in the U.S. and Canada, Krawczyk will explore every step, from choosing the correct substrate for cultivation to harvest. 1-4 p.m. Fee: $25

Although they immediately precede the two-day Minnesota Organic Conference to be held January 11-12, also in St. Cloud, these workshops are designed for all kinds of farmers -- beginning and experienced, young and old, conventional and organic.

More information is at