January 23, 2003
Marketing conference brings alternatives to light
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Ask any small farmer and they'll tell you it's getting hard to make a buck in agriculture. Farmers worry about it and country music singers croon about it, but the Ohio Valley Farm Marketing Conference will give people the tools to do something about it.
The conference, set Feb. 25-26 at the Holiday Inn Lakeview in Clarksville, Ind., is geared toward producers in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky who are looking for ways to market their products and make money on the farm.
Several conference presenters will suggest agritourism as a way to augment dwindling farm incomes. Matt Weber, project manager for the Southern Indiana Rural Development Project and member of the conference planning committee, said farms involved in agritourism capitalize on the public's inexperience with agriculture.
"Only about 2 percent of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture, so many people think it's fascinating to visit a farm, pet an animal or ride in a tractor," he said. "There will be several agritourism presentations and workshops at the conference. I think they will be especially helpful for potential entrepreneurs. Whether someone is considering a winery, a farm as a field trip destination or a farmer's market, there are plenty of ideas and useful strategies."
Roy Ballard, a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educator in Floyd County, also is on the planning committee. He views the two-day conference as a chance for producers to learn about new marketing options for horticulture, livestock and agritourism.
"This conference also offers discussions on value-added marketing, new market opportunities, business planning and financing, market development, and marketing organics," Ballard said. "Sessions are geared toward one of the three tracks in horticulture, livestock or agritourism. The horticulture track is broken into wholesale and retail."
Presenters from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana will talk about marketing organic products, opportunities in aquaculture, marketing to institutions, cooperative marketing and other topics. Educators, growers, and finance and business experts will lead most of the sessions. The event is a partnership between agricultural organizations and supporters from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
In addition, Billy Ray Smith, the Kentucky commissioner of agriculture; Fred Dailey, the Ohio director of agriculture; and Joe Pearson, Indiana's assistant commissioner of agriculture; will speak at the event. Ed Bell, a Hoosier storyteller with a farming background, will be the keynote speaker.
Registration prior to Feb. 14 is $15 per person. After that date the cost increases to $20 per person. The fee includes three meals and all conference activities. Registrations should be sent to Historic Hoosier Hills RC&D, P.O. Box 407, Versailles, IN 47042. Checks should be made payable to Historic Hoosier Hills RC&D. Participants must make their own hotel accommodations. Rooms are available at the Holiday Inn Lakeview by calling (800) 544-7075 or on their web site.
More information about the conference can be found online.
Writer: Kay Hostetler, (765) 494-6682, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Roy Ballard, (812) 948-5470, email@example.com
Matt Weber, (812) 339-8987, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, email@example.com; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/