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NRCS Participates in Organic Farming Conference

If you are interested in organic farms and food, La Crosse, Wisconsin is the place to be in late February—when the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. takes place there.

Jean Stramel, Grazing Lands Specialist in Richland Center, discusses what assistance is available from NRCS for interested graziers.

Jean Stramel, Grazing Lands Specialist in Richland Center, discusses what assistance is available from NRCS for interested graziers.

This year’s Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) organic farming conference ran from Feb. 23 through Feb. 25 and was attended by over 3,300 people from 39 states. Over 150 exhibitors were there to provide information related to organic farming.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency hosted an exhibit providing information on USDA farm programs.

NRCS conservation experts were on hand to answer specific questions about the Organic Initiative offered through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and inquiries from the crowd kept the staff very busy. The audience was extremely diverse: young and old, male and female, farmers and non-farmers, people of many different ethnic backgrounds.

Sam Skemp, District Conservationist in Viroqua, provides information to conference attendees during the three-day MOSES conference.

Sam Skemp, District Conservationist in Viroqua, provides information to conference attendees during the three-day MOSES conference.

Attendance at this year’s conference set a record high, which makes sense considering that reports indicate that organic farms in Wisconsin have increased significantly over the last ten years. The growing number of organic farms is keeping pace with the rising demand for organic products. Wisconsin is a leader in organic dairy and beef production and ranks third in the nation for the number of organic vegetable farms

In recent years, assistance for organic farmers from NRCS has also increased. The practices NRCS assists these growers with include high tunnels (also called hoop houses), irrigation systems, livestock grazing infrastructure and cover crops, as well as help with transitioning to organic production.

Sam Skemp, District Conservationist in Viroqua, provides information to conference attendees during the three-day MOSES conference.

Sam Skemp, District Conservationist in Viroqua, provides information to conference attendees during the three-day MOSES conference.

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