Organic conference to focus on producing food, fiber amid drought

Organic conference to focus on producing food, fiber amid drought
Members of $50 million industry come together Feb. 14-15 to share tips to survive and thrive

(ALBUQUERQUE) – “Is it drought, or is this the new normal?”

That question will kick off the 2014 New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, which takes place February 14 and 15 at the Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North.  Certified organic farmers and ranchers from across the Southwest, as well as those interested in organic practices, are invited to attend.

Although last September brought record rainfall to the region, it wasn’t enough to help us surface from the long-term drought.  That’s why this year’s organic conference will feature talks on such topics as understanding water rights, harvesting water, drip irrigation, managing soil salinity, destocking and restocking beef herds, and land restoration.

“We’ll have a little of something for everyone this year,” said Joanie Quinn, organic commodity advisor for NMDA’s Organic Program.  “That also includes sessions on small-scale production of things like eggs and honey; getting certified organic; and preparing for new federal food safety standards.”

The New Mexico Organic Farming Conference has grown to become the state’s best-attended agricultural conference, drawing upwards of 700 people each year.  New Mexico’s organic agricultural sector is growing, too, adding about approximately $50 million to the state’s economy every year.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer, a geologist who will share insights from her years of studying climate and land use history, as well as assessing drought impacts, wind erosion, and water quality.

Among the more than three dozen other notable speakers featured during the conference is Gary Paul Nabhan.  A pioneer of the local food movement and seed-saving community, Nabhan is fresh off the release of his latest book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land.  Rounding out the conference speakers are organic growers and grocers, as well as college students implementing on the farm the very organic practices they’re learning in the classroom.

NMDA’s Organic Program provides nationally accredited organic certification for farmers, ranchers, and food processors/handlers throughout New Mexico, as well as application and marketing assistance.  Organic Program staff work with employees from New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service and the nonprofit Farm to Table to organize the annual conference.

Click here to see the agenda and register for the conference and here for more information on NMDA’s Organic Program and organic certification.