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Conference to Help Livestock Producers Reap Profits

PULLMAN, Wash. — A two-day marketing conference to help livestock producers increase profits is being offered Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12 by Washington State University.

“Livestock producers are finding it difficult to make a profit with conventional production and marketing practices,” says Al Kowitz, WSU Stevens County Cooperative Extension.

The marketing conference, which will be held in the Ramada Inn at the Airport near Spokane, will focus on ways producers can add value to their livestock products.

Diana Endicott, Rainbow Organic Farms Co., Bronson, Kansas, will be Friday’s featured speaker. Kowitz says Rainbow Organic Farms helped form the All-Natural Beef Cooperative, which consists of 15-20 family farms and operates a small meat processing plant.

“Diana’s remarkable story directly addresses the needs and interests of many of our local growers,” Kowitz says. “Over the last four years, their program has enjoyed an average 40 percent per year growth in annual sales.”

A representative of Alternative Energy Resources Organization also will be on Friday’s program. AERO is a nonprofit organization fostering the development of sustainable agriculture in Montana. It has produced a directory of Montana producers and retailers committed to locally grown and processed products.

One of those producers is Farm-to-Market Pork, Inc., a Kalispell family owned farm that operates its own state-inspected processing plant. Its pork is available in individual retail cuts, variety packages and by the half or whole hog. They are sold both at the farm and at the Kalispell Farmer’s Market.

Friday’s featured speaker will be Liz Turner, Oregon Country Beef, Brothers, Ore. OCB is a collaborative of more than 30 Eastern Oregon ranchers. OCB targets consumers who want lean beef raised without hormones or antibiotics. It sells its products in Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington.

WSU Agricultural Economist Ken Duft also will talk about new marketing developments in the Puget Sound region and in central Washington. This will include the newly formed Northwest Center for Cooperatives, a nonprofit organization which is exploring and supporting new cooperative ventures.

Each day’s session will conclude with a panel discussion that will address the question, “Where do we go from here?” Panelists will attempt to identify specific actions producers can take to create new marketing opportunities.

Panelists will include Jan Tusick, AERO Board chair; Vickie Parker-Clarke, University of Idaho Extension; Marcia Ostrom, WSU Small Farm and Urban Agriculture leader, and Leslie Zenz, Washington State Department of Agriculture Small Farm and Direct Marketing Director.

The conference is supported by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and is part of the Eastern Washington Grazier’s Network.

There is a $25 fee for attendance. Space is limited, so pre-registration is recommended. Make checks payable to Cooperative Extension and send them to “Marketing Conference,” WSU Cooperative Extension, 222 N. Havana, Spokane, WA 99202-4799.

For more information, call (509) 477-2176.

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