Cultivating community and local food production in West Virginia: The 2018 Small Farm Conference

“Agriculture can and will be part of the solution to stabilize and grow our economy with the right plan,” stated Kent Leonhardt, West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture. West Virginians consume over $7 billion dollars of food each year, but produce only $800 million dollars of food. The commissioner believes growing and producing more food in the Mountain State will strengthen West Virginia’s food system, boost farmers’ profitability, and create new jobs in agriculture that will benefit individuals and local economies. ¹

Barriers to small farm profitability

The average farm in West Virginia is 175 acres. Farmers face several barriers to operate a successful small farm enterprise. Achieving profitability with limited production yield on less land is a major challenge. Farmers have fewer options to diversify small operations. They experience difficulty finding the right market mix and scaling production to serve larger markets. Additionally, lack of infrastructure and distribution are common barriers.

The West Virginia Small Farm Conference offers solutions

The 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference offers solutions to unlock the potential of West Virginia small farms to produce food profitably. The conference will take place February 21-24, 2018 at the Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, West Virginia. The goal of the conference is to help farmers develop a successful small farming enterprise by providing reliable, tested knowledge about current trends, needed skills, and latest production and operation information. The conference also aims to strengthen West Virginia’s food system by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale and retail marketing, and consumption.

There will be a wide variety of educational workshops during the three-day event. Farmers will learn about livestock, fruit, vegetable and specialty crop production. In-depth discussions led by experts in farm management, marketing, finance and risk, will benefit farm enterprises of all types. Food producers will learn how to add value to their farm products, utilize agricultural cooperatives to gain market access. Special sessions will highlight West Virginia’s Farm-to-School initiative, Farmers’ Markets and agritourism opportunities in the Mountain State.

Know your farmer, know your food

The Winter Blues Farmers Market will take place on Thursday, February 22, 2018, from 4-8 p.m. at the Morgantown Event Center. The community event is family-friendly and open to the public. The market will showcase local food, goods and products. Enjoy the aroma of delicious food cooking while browsing the market. Area chefs will be on-hand to prepare pay-as-you-go dishes and entrees with locally grown food.

What: The 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference

When: February 21-24, 2018

Where: Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, West Virginia

Cost: Registration is $70 per day, or $190/3 days for adults. Students, active military and veterans receive a discounted rate. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, Friday dinner, and conference materials. A $10 convenience fee increase per person per day for walk-in registrations.

Link to register and learn more: https://extension.wvu.edu/conferences/small-farm-conference

Reference

  1. 2017 Annual West Virginia Agricultural Statistics Bulletin. No. 48. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, West Virginia Field Office. 2017. www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/West_Virginia/Publications/Annual_Statistical_Bulletin/2017/Bulletin2017-All.pdf. Date Accessed 5 Feb 2018.

 

YAP Conference to Educate, Empower and Encourage the Next Generation

The future of farming is just over the horizon. Are young farmers prepared to fill their predecessors’ boots? Do they have what it takes to conquer challenges facing the agricultural industry? Are they confident to lead themselves and others?

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience will take place February 3-4, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. 650 Young farmers from across Ohio are registered to attend the 2-day event.

“The YAP Winter Leadership Conference is where young farmers and Ag professionals can professionally and personally grow by attending a variety of educational breakout sessions,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau Director of Leadership Programming. “It is a place to connect and build a community with folks who have shared experiences.”

The upcoming conference offers a wide variety of programming to educate, empower and encourage the next generation of Ohio farmers.

Educate

The Winter Leadership Experience prepares future farmers with knowledge and skills to build a farm business or successful career in Ag. Industry experts and educators will offer workshops in business and financial planning, strategies to manage risk and comply with regulations.

Marketing workshops will teach young farmers how to effectively position and sell their farm products. Attendees will learn how to find and communicate with consumers. Video and social media workshops will instruct young farmers how to harness the power of digital marketing to grow their agribusinesses.

Empower

The YAP Winter Leadership Experience empowers young farmers with confidence to lead. A compelling Discussion Meet Competition will showcase young agriculturalists in a dialog over issues impacting the agriculture industry. The winner of the Discussion Meet will receive a $1,000 cash award from Nationwide Insurance.

A panel of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation leadership featuring Farm Bureau’s OFB President Frank Burkett and Vice President Adam Sharp and will share their vision for the Farm Bureau’s future in an interactive session with young farmers. Additional workshops in conflict and human resource management will offer tools for young farmers can use to effectively lead themselves and others.

Encourage

Networking at the Winter Leadership Conference creates meaningful connections. Young farmers will enjoy fellowship other farmers, explore potential partnerships, and meet mentors and business advisors.

On Saturday, The Ohio State University CFAES Center for Cooperatives will present a panel of grant experts from university, government and private organizations. The Agricultural Grant Opportunities Workshop will encourage attendees to utilize federal, state and private grant programs to develop value-added products, accomplish on-farm research and make conservation improvements.

Don’t forget the funYAP 2017

The Winter Leadership Conference has something for everyone. Fun workshops will teach attendees how to preserve food, make soap and prep for healthy meals. The conference kicks-off with Friday night food, games and entertainment featuring Big Bang Dueling Pianos.

Details about the upcoming conference are on the Ohio Farm Bureau website, https://ofbf.org/yap-winter-leadership-experience

Article originally published in Farm & Dairy Newspaper

https://www.farmanddairy.com/top-stories/yap-conference-to-educate-empower-and-encourage-the-next-generation/467557.html

Changes to Tax Law: Section 199A Deductions

The cooperative world has seen a lot of discussion this month about the potential consequences of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for agricultural cooperatives and their members. Explore these resources from Iowa State University’s Dr. Keri Jacobs and Dr. Brian Briggeman of Kansas State University with Dr. Philip Kenkel of Oklahoma State University to learn more.

“A Discussion of the Sec 199A Deduction and its Potential Impacts on Producers and Grain Marketing Firms” by Dr. Keri Jacobs in farmdoc daily.

“Impact of Tax Reform on Agricultural Cooperatives: Special Edition ACCC Fact Sheet Series Collaborative Research KSU/OSU” by Dr. Brian Briggeman and Dr. Philip Kenkel.

 

Cooperative Leadership Forum Offers a Valuable Learning Opportunity

The Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC), an organization representing over 100 cooperatives in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, is offering a unique leadership training for co-op employees, board members, and other prospective leaders. The sessions on February 21-22 and March 6-7 in Oxford, Ohio will include tours of successful cooperatives in various sectors, sessions on leadership and management, and talks with cooperative leaders from across Ohio, among other activities.

MACC Executive Director, Rod Kelsay, talks with forum participants about how to develop their personal leadership skills.

In 2016, staff members of the OSU South Centers had the opportunity to participate in the forum, which included tours of Butler Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. and CHACO Credit Union as well as visits from representatives of Miami University Credit Union, Dairy Farmers of America, and COBA/Select Sires. The various speakers shared how their co-ops benefit members, how they are governed, and the services they provide to members. Each highlighted their “cooperative difference,” including their prioritization of members’ needs, education efforts, and concern for community. OSU South Centers’ Kimberly Roush, explained the inspiration she gathered from visits to local co-ops. “I noticed an interesting result of the cooperative environment during the leadership forum—the overall culture of the cooperative employees who spoke with us.  The staff explained specific details about the reason for and the function of their cooperatives. Then they shared something more—talking about member activities and interaction with the community.  It was exciting to learn how the cooperative principles permeate the local culture.”    

Not only did staff learn a great deal from various guest speakers, the forum was an opportunity to network with and learn from other participants who worked across various sectors like credit unions and agricultural marketing and supply co-ops.

To learn more about the 2018 Cooperative Leadership Forum, visit http://editor.des08.com/macc/Brochure_CLF_2018.pdf. Contact MACC with any questions at (317)-726-6910 or knowledge@macc.coop.

Ohio Produce Network 2018

Learning the produce industry’s latest and greatest at the Ohio Produce Network conference in Sandusky, Ohio. Growers, marketers and their families are having a wild time at Kalahari Resort and Convention Center! The convention brings together Ag business owners, supply and service providers, Ohio State University Extension educators and industry experts.

Growing ‘Better Together’ at the Ohio Produce Network conference

Every January Ohio’s fruit and vegetable growers, farm managers and agricultural marketers come together to talk trends, share best practices, and learn how to grow better produce. The Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association will kick off the New Year with the 2018 Ohio Produce Network (OPN) conference, January 15-17, at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio.

The theme of the 2018 OPN is ‘Better Together’. The two-and-a-half-day conference offers over 50 breakout sessions covering diverse topics: produce trial research results to pest management to accepting digital payments at your farm. Educators from the Ohio State University Extension Direct Marketing Team will offer ideas and teach techniques proven to grow business and sales revenue.

Farm to Facebook?

2.789 billion people use social media to connect with friends and follow influencers, businesses and organizations.¹ An increasing number of consumers are abandoning search engines and turning to social media to find products and services. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide business owners with a lucrative platform to promote their products. Agricultural producers can use compelling photo and video content to attract new customers and enhance relationships with current customers.

Ohio Produce Network breakout session “How to Take Video with your Smartphone” Session one will provide technical instruction to take videos and discuss consumer video preferences. Growers will learn how to create viral videos and have an opportunity to practice before attending session 2 the following afternoon. Session two will direct attendees to apps and tools to enhance their video content.

“Taking Pictures for your Social Media Site” teaches growers to boost their brands on rapidly growing social photo platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and how to spark clicks and conversations posting photos on Facebook and Twitter.

2018 Ohio Produce Network Highlights

Ohio Produce Network attendees can register to attend Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) training at no additional cost with conference registration fee. PSA training is a standardized national produce safety training program that prepares produce growers to meet the regulatory requirements in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The curriculum covers food safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and natural resource management. Space is limited, so register today if you are interested in the PSA training.

Keynote speakers include Michele Payn, Cause Matters Corporation, and Melinda Witten, Director of Leadership Programming at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Michele Payn is a speaker, writer and advocate for healthy food and farms. She is the author of two books: No More Food Fights! and Food Truths from Farm to Table. She founded Cause Matters Corporation to de-bunk food myths, develop science communication and connect farm to food. She educates the public through weekly online Twitter conversations, AgChat and Food Chat.

Melinda Witten ignites the next generation of leaders in agriculture, overseeing the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals and AgriPOWER Leadership Institute programs. She draws from vast experience growing and selling produce direct to consumers. The Witten Family operates a multi-generational farm market and greenhouse in Beverly, Ohio, and 22 satellite farm stands across Ohio and West Virginia.

A new opportunity for producers is a value-added product tasting contest to be held Tuesday morning, January 16th in the tradeshow area from 8 Aa.m. to 10:30 a.m. OPGMA will provide crackers and/or biscuits for sampling. All you need to do is bring a jar or two of your best tasting products to share with attendees. The item voted best tasting will be recognized during Melinda Witten’s presentation in Indigo Bay from 10:45 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. You will receive “bragging rights” among your peers as well as recognition on our social media sites during OPN.

The trade show features exhibitors from business and industry, education and non-profit organizations. Attendees can access experts in supply, marketing, financial and risk management to ask questions and discover solutions.

See you there

The cost to attend the Ohio Produce Network full conference is $130 for members and $180 for non-members. Early bird discounts may apply before Jan. 11, 2018. Visit the Ohio Produce Network website to register for the event, http://www.opgma.org/?page_id=52.

Questions? Contact OPGMA at ohiopgma@gmail.com or (740) 828-3400.

Read this article in Farm and Dairy Newspaper

Reference

  1. Kemp, Simon. “Digital in 2017: Global Overview”, (Jan 24, 2017). We are Social.https://wearesocial.com/special-reports/digital-in-2017-global-overview.

 

Cooperative Roots Run Deep

Modern cooperatives, whether they market agricultural products, operate a food store, or purchase hardware supplies, typically operate according to a set of widely recognized cooperative principles. These “cooperative principles” tie cooperatives across the United States and the world together in a larger movement. Where did these principles originate? How did the cooperative model and movement develop?

Cooperative Principles and the Rochdale Pioneers

The cooperative principles recognized by the International Co-operative Alliance, and the broad cooperative community, are generally recognized to have originated from the efforts of 28 working men who founded the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society in 1844 and operated a cooperatively owned store that started out selling butter, flour, sugar, and oatmeal. The Rochdale Pioneers, as they came to be known, were working toward social goals that arose out of the conditions of their time, including harsh working conditions. Read more about the Rochdale Pioneers and their efforts on the website of the Rochdale Pioneer Museum.

Watch this video commissioned for the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and the Co-operative Heritage Trust to learn more about the development of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. 

The original rules of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society included:

  • That capital should be of their own providing and bear a fixed rate of interest
  • That only the purest provisions procurable should be supplied to members
  • That full weight and measure should be given
  • That market prices should be charged and no credit given nor asked
  • That profits should be divided pro rate upon the amount of purchases made by each member
  • That the principle of ‘one member one vote’ should obtain in government and the equality of the sexes in membership
  • That management should be in the hands of officers and committee elected periodically
  • That a definite percentage of profits should be allotted to education
  • That frequent statements and balance sheets should be presented to members

Today, the cooperative community recognizes seven core principles.

 

Early Cooperation

While modern cooperative principles can be traced to Rochdale, England in the mid-19th century, the cooperative business was not a new form of organization. In fact, mutual insurance companies existed as early as 1530 in Paris and London and various ‘friendly societies’ operated in England in the 1700’s to provide financial assistance to members in difficult times of sickness, unemployment, or death. Purchasing cooperatives operated in various Western European countries by the 18th century and consumer controlled mills operated in England in the early 1800s. The Fenwick Weavers Society in Scotland began collective purchasing in 1769; according to the Rochdale Pioneers Musuem, the society is the “earliest cooperative retail society for which records survive.”

Some cooperative scholars trace the history of cooperation much further than these efforts. Rather, they look to ancient social norms of mutual aid, such as the collegia of ancient Rome’s, the craft guilds of 11th century Europe, and the Ahi movement in Anotolia or what is today, Turkey. Ed Mayo’s short publication, “A short history of cooperation and mutuality,” provides a fresh perspective on these movements and the ways that they were influential in shaping the modern cooperative movement.

Cooperatives in the United States

In the United States, Benjamin Franklin helped to start the first recognized cooperative business, a mutual insurance company, in 1752. Agricultural cooperatives played an important role in the development of cooperatives in the U.S. with the first ag co-ops beginning operations in 1810 in dairy and cheese making. From 1810 until 1887, cooperatives were founded in many sectors of agriculture, including hog marketing, irrigation, fruit marketing, and cotton ginning, among others. The Grange, one of the first farm organizations in the U.S., organized cooperative development efforts while other farm groups like the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union were also instrumental to developing agricultural cooperatives. In fact, Farm Bureau helped to establish Growmark and Nationwide Insurance while National Farmers Union helped to establish CHS, Inc., the largest agricultural cooperative in the U.S. today.

Sources and recommended reading:

A short history of co-operation and mutuality by Ed Mayo
The Rochdale Principles, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
About Toad Lane, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
About the Pioneers, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
History of the Co-operative Movement, International Cooperative Alliance
Rochdale Pioneers Museum Time Machine, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
Cooperatives: Principles and practices in the 21st century by Kimberly A. Zueli and Robert Cropp