February 11, 2009

Organic Producers Offered New Ideas for Growing their Small Farms

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – The Missouri Department of Agriculture is sponsoring an upcoming event for organic producers to learn more about sustainable agriculture and how to add more value to their small family farms. The Missouri Organic Association’s annual conference will be held Sat. Feb. 21, 2009 at the Carver Farm – a research farm and extension of Lincoln University located in Jefferson City, MO Topics during the conference will include organic dairy, organic corn and soybeans, improving soil fertility and becoming organic certified.

The one–day event will offer small producers an opportunity to learn from others in the industry as well as growing techniques and more about direct marketing to the consumer. Rachel Bax with the Missouri State Milk Board will present on raw milk and cheese in Missouri. Lane McConnell with the agriculture department’s Ag Business Development Division will present programs for prospective and beginning farmers as well as marketing opportunities for farmers’ markets.

“Sustainable agriculture is vital to our independent producers and our rural communities. With new marketing techniques and new innovative ideas, organic producers will continue to add value to their family farms across the state,” said Dr. Jon Hagler, director of the Department of Agriculture. “Organic agriculture continues to grow in popularity – folks today want to know more about where their food comes from. Building consumer trust through growing healthy, nutritious foods and marketing their products in new ways, our small farmers will continue to see a rise in demand for organic products and be able to meet demand.”

U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to an estimated $20 billion in 2007. Missouri currently has 125 certified organic farms.

For registration or trade show information for the conference, visit www.missouriorganic.org. To learn more about organic agriculture, visit www.mda.mo.gov/abd/organic/ or missouriorganics.blogspot.com/ or contact the Department of Agriculture’s Ag Business Development Division at (573) 526-4984.