Tuesday, 28 February 2012 13:36

Organic Alberta’s 2012 Regional Conference growing

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By Jamie Woodford
Southern Alberta
There are 367 organic farmers in Alberta and there’s plenty of room for them to grow and for new organic farmers to get on board, too.
Organic Alberta’s 2012 Regional Conference stops in Lethbridge March 3 at the Royal Canadian Legion (324 Mayor Magrath Dr.) and is open to anyone interested in the organics industry.

“Our conference is focused on organics, but really it’s open to everybody. Anybody who has an interest in organics or anybody who is thinking they’d like to move that way, or just interested in doing things a little bit more environmentally sustainable on their farm, or they already are,” said Becky Lipton, executive director of Organic Alberta.

The number of organic producers has remained stable over the last few years, but with consumer demand on the rise, there’s plenty of growth opportunities.

“In terms of consumption of products, there’s been 20 per cent increase every year, except during the recession, which there was a 10 per cent increase, which is significantly more that most other product groups which actually declined during that time,” she said. “Our numbers are showing that this year, it’s gone right back up to the 20 per cent.”

Organic beef is a particularly significant market, which is why Organic Alberta is offering a free workshop on Friday, March 2 titled, “On Farm Finishing and Lessons from the Abattoir.”

The workshop will touch on topics within the organic beef industry including feeding organic cattle and consumer trends.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work with organic beef in the province and working with a lot of our producers, getting them the resources so that they can finish they’re animals and do some of their own marketing as well as trying to connect people within the value chain to market more beef,” Lipton said.

The workshop will be followed up with speaker sessions on Saturday, March 3.

John Reid, an ag business consultant, will offer a general presentation on organic businesses and management practices, followed by a more specific speech on one of his specialties — marketing organic beef.

“(He) has worked with a number of large-scale agricultural groups and has worked with beef producers in the past to help them really scale up,” Lipton said.

Organic grain is another focus of the the conference. A grain marketing panel as well as grain buyers will be in attendance to offer insight into organic markets and their buying practices.

“We’re also going to be pushing the envelope a little bit there and talking about who are their markets and what are their markets looking for? How can we move towards producing a product that’s going to help them increase their markets, which is going to help our grain producers sell more grain and so on,” she said. “We’re really trying to push it along and see how much we can grow by working with everybody along the supply chain.”

Other speakers include Brenda Frick who will discuss the Pubpat lawsuit against Monsanto and

Lisa Lundgard talking about her experience with Customer Supported Agriculture ventures.

For more information, visit www.organicalberta.org or phone 780-271-1116.

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