Writer: Jane Moorman, 505-249-0527, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBQUERQUE - Organic farming is becoming a vital part of New Mexico's agricultural industry. Approximately 200 certified organic farms generate $45 million annually, with producers working 200,000 acres.
The New Mexico Organic Farming Conference is held annually to bring a wide variety of information to producers. This year's conference will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, at the Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE, in Albuquerque.
As the Southwest's premier conference for organic and sustainable agriculture, the two-day conference will provide more than 30 production and marketing workshops, a locally grown organic food luncheon on Saturday and a large exhibitor hall for producers to learn about organic farming.
The event is organized by the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, and Farm to Table. The registration fee is $100, or $65 for one day. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. each day. For more information call Le Adams at (505) 473-1004, ext. 10, or Joanie Quinn at (505) 841-9067.
New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture I. Miley Gonzalez will open the conference at 9 a.m. Friday. Dr. Gonzalez's welcome will be followed by workshop sessions on a variety of topics in six categories - soil, crops, livestock, weed and pest management, farm support, and market gardening - ranging from seeding native grasses for improved pastures to weed management with biofumigation, from short-season production to adding poultry to a farm environment, and from marketing to retailers and restaurants to production of the native medicinal herb cota.
Saturday's full schedule of workshops will begin following the keynote speaker from 8:30 to 10 a.m. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, has been invited to share from her vast knowledge of sustainable agriculture and her work promoting organic farming. Merrigan served on the USDA National Organic Standards Board from 1995-1999, and she helped develop the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 as an advisor for then Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT). She has also been an expert consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome.
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