At the end of the 20th century, American agriculture has made tremendous
improvements in production while ironically remining one of the most
risky enterprises in the country. 1998 saw commodity prices drop to new lows and
the stirrings of what some have termed a farm crisis. Up to 1/3 of Nebraska's
farmers have been projected to quit farming as a result of being unable to pay
the costs of production.
Though there is no doubt that reform is overdue in the workings of the
agricultural economy, family-sized farmers do have alternatives to getting
big or going broke. Diversification, adding value on the farm, finding niche
markets, and reducing input costs are keys to surviving in the unpredictable
agricultural economy. The Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society's annual
western conference presents solid alternatives to farmers and ranchers
seeking a way to stay on the land on their own terms.
This year's western conference will be in North Platte on Saturday, Jan. 30,
1999, at the Mid-Plains Community College. Some of the cutting-edge
workshops that will be presented include:
farm-scale herb production and marketing: Jim Rowh, Pure Prairie, Norton,
Kansas--$27 billion is spent annually in America on alternative medicine.
The herb market is hot and growing while commodity prices stagnate. Can herb
help the cash flow on your farm?
starting a small-scale seed business on your farm: Roger Hammons of the
Nebraska Crop Improvement Association will be joined by growers Phil Menke from
Oconto and Tom Tomas of Orleans to discuss drastic recent changes in the
seed industry and how that creates opportunities for locally-grown seed sales.
removing roadblocks to organic farming: What keeps you from making the
transition to organic when you know it will decrease input costs and
increase crop value? Farmer Dennis Demmel from Ogallala describes the
challenges he has faced in making the transition, and a panel of organic
farmers will offer their expertise on possible solutions. Bring your
questions about nutrient managment, weed control, and organic marketing.
calving with nature: summer calving research and experiences: Dick Clark of
the University of Nebraska will discuss the feasibility of shifting the calving
season from late winter to early summer, decreasing the stress on cows, calves,
and the people who care for them. Rancher Wayne Eatinger of Thedford has been
invited to share his experiences with summer calving.
The keynote will be presented by Sally J. Herrin, communications director of
the Nebraska Farmers Union. She will discuss the current farm crisis and how
economic justice can be brought back to rural communities.
Plan to attend the 1999 Western Conference and begin to prepare for your
future in farming in the 21st century.
For more information and to register, call Jane Sooby at 308-254-3918.
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