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Midwest Ag Convention Focus on Organic Farming

February 23, 2007

The 18th annual Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference is under way today in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Some 2,000 farmers and food providers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Michigan and Iowa are there to participate in workshops and exhibits, and share ideas on marketing and promoting organic products. Spokesman Doug Nopar says the focus is on getting support for organic farming into the new federal farm bill.

"We want to see increased funding for organic farm research and education, so farmers have the information they need to make this transition to organic production. And see promotion of a conservation program that rewards farmers who take good care of the land and promote wildlife and care for the soil and water."

More shoppers are buying organic food, and it's a profitable market for producers. Nopar points out how our food is grown and paid for and distributed is important.

"From a consumer perspective, eating organic food protects us from exposure to pesticides, and it also promotes a kind of farming that is really good for the land and good for rural communities and good for farmers themselves. From a farmer's perspective, farmers now have a chance to not only farm in a way that benefits the environment, but that is financially very profitable. And, that's what the organic marketplace is now offering producers."

Nopar says the Upper Midwest is a "hotbed" for organic agriculture, such as dairy, beef and poultry products. He hopes the new farm bill will support the growing industry.

Over 2,300 people are expected at the session, which runs through Saturday and is billed as the largest organic food conference in the country. More online at

Jim Wishner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - MN