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“Cultivating Our Reality” Focus of Annual Women and Agriculture Conference

EAST WENATCHEE, Wash. – Transitioning farm ownership within the family, land and water rights, marketing savvy and biosecurity are just a few of the topics that will be covered at the annual Washington Women and Agriculture Conference held here April 18 – 19.

Information about how to register for the conference, costs, accommodations, driving directions and more is available at http://www.ncw.wsu.edu/family. Registration is due April 15. Hotel reservations at the lower conference rate are due April 4.

Presented by Washington State University Extension in cooperation with a number of local and statewide sponsors, the program’s theme is “Cultivating Our Reality” and addresses subjects specifically requested by women working in agriculture, according to Margaret A. Viebrock, WSU Douglas County Extension director.

“The majority of the workshops chosen are a result of input from past participants,” Viebrock said. “Women involved in agriculture in Washington State are part of a growing statistic. The number of women counted as the primary operator of a farm is on the rise. This conference recognizes their role as owner, operator, partner or family member of an agriculture business.”

Keynote speaker for the conference, which will be held at Eastmont Junior High School, is Elaine Froese, a farmer and farmer’s daughter who has been writing and speaking about life balance and farm issues since 1987. Her presentation, “Discuss the Undiscussabull,” includes a practical tool kit to help families talk about the challenges involved in running an agricultural business together, such as trust, fairness, work style, retirement, space and ownership.

The conference also features a series of workshops on topics ranging from how to transition to organic production to writing a business plan to immigration reform. A new feature this year are lunchtime Table Topic discussions, opportunities to informally learn from other women’s farming experiences.

Viebrock emphasized the partnerships that support the annual conference. “We could not do this without the help of our sponsors,” she said.

Sponsors include the WSU Western Center for Risk Management Education, the Chelan/Douglas Farm Bureau, COUNTRY Insurance and Financial Services Agent Nancy Jarmin, KPQ Am and KYSN FM radio, North Cascades National Bank, USDA/Risk Management Agency in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Agriculture Small Farm and Direct Marketing Program, the USDA Farm Service Agency, and 33 other businesses, lenders and commodity groups.

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