It’s ALL thumbs up for the MOSES Conference Feb. 21-23 in La Crosse, Wis. Submitted photo
It’s ALL thumbs up for the MOSES Conference Feb. 21-23 in La Crosse, Wis. Submitted photo

Submitted by Audrey Alwell, MOSES

LA CROSSE, WI – The 30th Annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference—the country’s largest conference about organic and sustainable agriculture—takes place Feb. 21-23, 2019, in La Crosse, Wis. The event brings together farmers and ag professionals in every aspect of organic and sustainable production, from small to large scale.

“The MOSES Conference is not only a place for me to gather information for making farm decisions, it’s also where I check in with the trends, successes, and direction of organic,” said Jordan Scheibel of Grinnell, Iowa. Scheibel has attended the conference every year since 2011.

The conference, organized by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), features 60 workshops on topics in organic livestock and crop production, business planning, marketing, and more. Popular workshops include Soil Health for High Yields, Knock Down Barriers to Organic Transition, Silvopasture in Practice, and Finances in a Tough Farm Economy.

The conference center’s two-floor exhibit hall includes more than 175 vendors, offering products, information, or services to help farmers succeed. Patagonia Workwear and Kubota Equipment are among the 14 new exhibitors this year. Admission to the hall comes with conference registration or as a $25 stand-alone ticket good Thursday, Feb. 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. for admission to the hall, the conference bookstore, and opening night activities.

Advance registration for the full conference is $225 through Feb. 7; on-site price is $300. Single-day pricing also is available. See mosesorganic.org/conference for registration information, workshop descriptions, and more details. To request a conference guide with a mail-in registration form, call 715-778-5775.

One of the highlights of the MOSES Conference is the award presentation to the Organic Farmers of the Year. The 2019 recipients are longtime organic farmers and advocates Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford of Blue Fruit Farm in Winona, Minn. They have been active at the local, state, and national level in furthering organic agriculture, and helped shape the USDA’s initial organic standards. They have served on numerous boards, including a five-year term for Riddle on the National Organic Standards Board in the early 2000s. Riddle and Ford both were organic inspectors in the 1990s, and established the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), which now provides training and accreditation for organic inspectors worldwide. They’ll share their organic farm story and advocacy work during the conference kick-off celebration set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21.

Farmers can dig more deeply into a farming topic at the all-day Organic University offered just prior to the MOSES Conference. This year’s classes are: Advanced Organic Weed Management, Grow & Market Organic Mushrooms, Maximize Nutrition from Grazing & Forages, Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training, Reduce Risk in Your Farming Business, Soil:  The Final Frontier, Specialty Cut Flowers, What it Takes to Grow Industrial Hemp, Wholesale Vegetable Production for Small to Mid-Scale Farms.

Advance registration for Organic University is $180 through Feb. 7; on-site price is $220. See the course descriptions at OrganicUniversity.org.

Organic University also will include a special forum on the future of organic farming. “Organic 2051” brings together 100 change-makers to identify current resources and opportunities to advance organic farming practices. More than 200 people applied to participate in the forum. Names of selected participants are posted at mosesorganic.org/organic2051. The website also includes a form to submit ideas for discussion at the forum.

MOSES is a nonprofit organization that promotes organic and sustainable agriculture by providing education, resources, and practical advice to help farmers succeed.