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Spring Crops for WI Farmers: Organic Grains and Clean Water

March 20, 2008

Arcadia, WI – Wisconsin farmers can make money while protecting waterways, say organizers of a series of free workshops starting today. Harriet Behar with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service will lead the classes, teaching farmers how to grow organic grains and soybeans for feed crops. She says synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are causing major problems downstream from Wisconsin and other agricultural states, and organic production can help turn that around.

"Part of the reason we're doing this is our concern about the 'dead zone' at the base of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico, and what we can do to lessen that problem."

Behar says the organic dairy industry is creating a huge demand for organically grown feed and forage crops, so there's also a big payoff for farmers who make the switch.

"We have a tremendous shortage. Organic corn is selling for $10 a bushel, and organic feed-grade soybeans are about $22 a bushel at this time."

Behar says rising costs of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers mean organic farming can have lower input costs.

"Production methods that use more natural systems, kind of grow your own fertilizer, use crop rotation for pest control, can be very attractive."

The first workshop is today in Arcadia; followed by one in La Farge on the 29th, as well as classes in Minnesota and Iowa. Additional information about the classes is available online, at www.mosesorganic.org.

Rob Ferrett/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - WI