- Learn about herbs as a part of the New Crops Project
- Join the Herb Producer’s Network
The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) is the organization behind National Ag Day. I’d like to thank them for the effort they make “to increase the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.”
Clearly, our society is in need of more awareness of agriculture’s role. Have you noticed our presidential candidates have barely mentioned agriculture in their debates and campaigns?
I would heartily encourage you to engage today and this week in Ag Day/Ag Week activities. On the ACA website, there are information and tools available for helping ourselves and those around us understand many of agriculture’s impacts on our society and our communities. ACA sponsors are dominated by large corporations and conventional farming related organizations; and at first blush, much of this information is focused on making sure our society understands the contributions of agriculture in terms of a safe, affordable food supply. But ACA doesn’t stop there, and its good to see!
The ACA website includes resources and references representative of a broad spectrum of agricultural genres. Yes, there are even some resources connected to the agroecological impact of agriculture. This is heartening to see. Food production, and its affordability is obviously a very important contribution of US Agriculture, one that should be celebrated. But too often, in an attempt “to share a positive story about agriculture,” advocates can miss other great contributions agriculture can make.
Agroecology, or the promotion of soil health building practices, has the potential to feed our growing global population, mitigate climate change, raise profits for farmers, and reduce our farm economy’s reliance on government support for success. How fitting is it then that the 2016 theme for National Ag Day is “Agriculture: Stewards of a Healthy Planet?” I know some who read this will ask, “Is the planet still healthy?” It depends on who you talk to, but one thing for sure, our planet’s ecosystem does contain the ability to heal itself under the right management, and for that reason, I think it can still be considered healthy.
But the stewardship question is still undecided. Will farmers move further on the Sustainability Continuum, toward a focus on healthy soil, or will we remain focused on the greatest output at all costs? Its up to the next generation of farmers. Some of those farmers are SFA members today and are growing in knowledge about soil health and its implications for production, animal health, soil health, profitability and changing our world’s food for the better.
In honor of Ag Day, would you consider making a donation to SFA? Over the next several years, one of our goals is to bring all of agriculture together, keeping us focused on developing and remaining good stewards of a strong, resilient, healthy planet. Your contribution today would make a big different in our ability to carry out this important educational mission. Thanks so much.
A free workshop for livestock, dairy and crop producers interested in integrating cover crops and livestock into their operations will be held from noon-3 p.m. March 25 at Lakes Cafe, 136 W Main St, Perham. This event will discuss designing cover crop blends to improve soil health and produce livestock feed.
Limited to 20 participants, registrants should bring: a field photo or map of one field in which to integrate cover crops, cropping and herbicide records for the past four seasons for that field, and a wi-fi enabled laptop or tablet computer. Experts will be coaching attendees through designing a custom cover crop blend.
Refreshments will be provided but not lunch – it is recommended that attendees eat prior to and not during the workshop.
This event is sponsored by SFA and the West Central Minnesota Dairy Initiative.
Also, SFA is in the early stages of planning a grass-based dairy workshop with Dr. Allen Williams, likely to be held sometime in May. Keep reading SFA Connect for updates and registration information.
There are volumes of information on pasture rearing livestock. However, what do we do with these critters when winter comes to Minnesota?
SFA Deep Roots Farmer Development Program will address this issue in a new short course, “Wintering Livestock, from 1 to 4 p.m. March 5 at Seven Pines Farm, 18618 County Rd 23, Verndale, Minn.
Join SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg as he leads a field tour covering cattle outwintering, windbreaks, hoop structures for chickens and hogs, and principles of low-cost livestock wintering on his farm.
This class is limited to 10 people. Cost: $60. Click here to register.
Renewing the Countryside is hosting several upcoming Farmer-Buyer networking events that focus on farm-to-institution sales, including some co-hosted by SFA chapters. The aim is attract buyers and growers from across each region to community host sites for networking that advances partnerships between local farmers and community institutions.
- SFA Central Chapter is collaborating on the workshop set for March 7 in St. Joseph.
- SFA Greater Mille Lacs Chapter is hosting the northeast Minnesota event on March 29 in Aitkin. Click here for more info.
- An additional event will be March 14 in Mankato.
Open to all, these networking events cost $15 and include lunch. For information and to register, or to learn about additional farm-to-institution mentorships, click here.