Friday, December 4, 2015

Healthy Farms Conference Breakout Sessions I

Elders of Sustainable Agriculture Panel Discussion

This session will be a sharing of wisdom and experiences from seasoned veterans of sustainable and organic agriculture. Our aim with this panel is that it is a conversation on sustainable agriculture, where it's come, where it's going and what's going on. The panel will feature farmers from across the state that are also longtime NSAS members including; Paul Rohrbaugh from Steinauer, Dennis Demmel from Grant and Jim Knopik from Fullerton.

Paul Rohrbaugh and family have been on their ranch for nearly 35 years. They have raised three sons on the ranch and involved them in all aspects of the operation. They have used management intensive grazing of their grassland since mid-80s, utilizing poultry, sheep, and cattle. They also utilize rotational haying and fire to improve the grasses. They direct market under the name of Pawnee Pride Meats (chosen by ballot from their sons). There are now seven grandchildren that all “help” in various capacities. Paul is a previous director of NSAS. 

Dennis Demmel has been farming in Perkins County since 1983. The farm consists of 1800 acres of dryland & irrigated crops of wheat, barley, corn, millet among other crops. The farm has been certified organice since 2007.  The farm also has cattle which are owned by a business partner and graze the crop residue and the cover crops. Dennis has bee recognized throughout the years for his work with organic agriculture and conservation including the 1994 Agriculture Stewardship Award from NSAS, the Master Conservationist Award from the Omaha World Herald in 2003 & the Nebraska Forest Stewardship Award in 2001, to name a few. Dennis has served as President of the BOD for NSAS, as well as the Ag Advisory committee for Congressman Tom Osborne.  

Jim Knopik grew up on a farm near North Star, Nebraska, a village that no longer exists. In 1967, he married Carolyn and they rented their own farm, eventually becoming one of the larger conventional farmers in the area. After twenty years, they realized they were farming more for large companies, and it wasn't something they would ask their children to do. They downsized, began farming organically, and formed a group called North Star Neighbors which they now manage by marketing and delivering meat raised by their members. Jim actively works with others trying to establish fair and new markets for small farmers. Jim and Carolyn have four children and eleven grandchildren all living within 30 miles of their home. Family and neighbors are their most important resource.

Cover Crops for the Commodity Grower with Nate Belcher

This session will be geared for the commodity grower and will cover; What are cover crops and why do they matter? Benefits of using cover crops; Soil biology and nutrient cycling; Choosing the right species; Planting; Management; Termination; Tillage.

Nate Belcher, owner of Green Acres Cover Crops, is passionate and dedicated to helping producers implement farming methods that are regenerative, productive, and financially viable.  Green Acres was founded on the principle that healthy, biologically rich soils are the cornerstone upon which sustainable food production depends on.  The relationship between plants, animals and the land is key to agricultural systems that are self-sustaining and productive which is why Green Acres focus is providing producers with the knowledge and seeds needed to feed their animals, crops, and soils.  Nate lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife Becky and son Rye, and could not be more excited about what the future of farming looks like.

State Policy Down on the Farm and in Your Communities with Traci Bruckner

Come hear about and learn how you can engage in important policy issues to be debated in the Nebraska Legislature. This next legislative session will tackle issues that affect health care, packer ownership of livestock, tax and more. We need your voice engaged in the debate!

Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Associate, Center for Rural Affairs. She has been with the Center for Rural Affairs since 2001, and serves as their Senior Policy Associate. Traci has worked extensively on state level agriculture policy, as well federal farm policy with the 2002, 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, guiding advocacy to include beginning farmer and rancher provisions in the bill, farm program reform, and conservation and value-added agriculture programs. She holds Bachelor's of Science degrees in political science and sociology.

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