Rural Life Conference Feb. 28 Features 11 Workshops

Carol Sanders |School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

Rural LIfe Conference 2014 Web Flash ImagePINE BLUFF, Ark. – The 58th annual Rural Life Conference is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 28, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with the opening session at 8:45 a.m.

The program features 11 workshops. The conference schedule allows for the attendance of two workshops. Most of the workshops cover two related topics by two different presenters.

At the Buy Local-Buy Fresh Workshop, a local producer will discuss the successful production and marketing of vegetables. Participants will be provided specific information about accessing the public school system market from school officials and learn how high tunnels can help.

Other workshops address the profitability of small cow-calf and ruminant operations and UAPB innovative agriculture projects specifically the sweet potato foundation program, the strawberry project and international programs.

Producers seeking funds to improve their farms may be interested in workshops conducted by representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) or the Arkansas Forestry Service (AFS). NRCS will cover money from conservation programs to improve cropland, pastureland or forestland. FSA presenters will discuss microloans and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) while AFC foresters will discuss managing woodland for profit. Participants will learn about forestry management practices that provide income from trees and using cost share programs to manage timber for profit.

The aquaculture workshop will cover the challenges of producing farmed fish that contain good fats while at the same time optimizing fish performance, product quality, sustainability and production profitability. Less expensive fish and seafood products in the marketplace that are good sources of omega-3 will be discussed.

The food safety workshop will cover the Food Safety Modernization Act, what small scale farmers and food processors need to know, and the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) requirements for selling fresh produce to Walmart.

What can be done locally to reduce obesity and being overweight and related diseases will be covered at the Building Sustainable Communities through Healthy Eating Workshop. Also to be discussed is how sustainable communities impact the lifestyles of community residents.

The Nutrition Education in the Delta Workshop discusses how the Young Scholars Program, the Families First-Nutrition Education and Wellness System (FF-NEWS), and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) at UAPB lead to healthier food choices.

In addition to workshops, the conference features 14 exhibits and 14 posters on display.

The conference theme is Facing Change: Promoting Healthy Lifestyles and Sustainable Communities.

Registration is requested of everyone even though the conference is free to farmers, ranchers, homemakers and retirees. The cost to professionals and agency personnel is $50; after Feb. 14, late registration is $75. To preregister or for more information, contact Tamara Ford at (870) 575-8806.


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