The North Central Graziers Network will hold a grazing conference at El Norteno Restaurant in Curtiss on Thursday, Feb. 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of the conference is $20 ($15 if you pre-register) and includes lunch and conference materials.
The conference features Idaho beef rancher, Brian Thomas. Brian also serves as a conservation district specialist for the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance in Idaho. Brian will do a presentation that will focus on improving beef genetics, utilizing good grazing and conservation management, and the importance of keeping good records. He practices these strategies on his own purebred Black Angus ranch that focuses on commercial beef cattle sales.
Brian will also be part of a panel discussing how to manage pastures and cattle in the hot, dry condition of summer. The panel includes local farmers - Peter Arnold, Kenneth Yoder, Aaron Hoover and Craig Carlson.
The other highlight of the conference will be a direct farm marketing forum. Area direct marketers will share their experiences in developing different strategies that led to new sales opportunities for their farms. All three producers run very successful managed grazing operations specializing in multiple species of livestock and poultry.
Forum speakers include Kim Cassano from Catawba, who along with her partner Rich Toebe, run The Rustic Table, a Madison area CSA. They also raise beef, pork, lamb and chicken for more than 60 families on their 80 acre grass-based farm in Price County. Craig Carlson, a farmer from Athens, direct markets several thousand pastured broilers, as well as pastured turkeys, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and select organic vegetables. His customer base includes a couple of restaurants in Madison and Milwaukee. Kara Berlage, co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café from Hayward, is an enterprising agrarian focused on grass-based, sustainable livestock management. Working with dairy sheep, hogs and poultry since 2000, Kara specialized in direct marketing the value of the farm-to-table experience.
If you cannot make the day conference – an evening session featuring Brian Thomas and the Direct Marketing Forum will be held at JaeDee's Restaurant in Glen Flora, starting at 5 p.m. Cost for the evening is $15, ($12 if you pre-register) and includes a chicken and roast pork dinner.
For more information, contact Bob Brandt, grazing specialist at (715)965-6771 or the Taylor County Land Conservation Department at (715)748-1469. Registration forms can be found at www.co.taylor.wi.us, under the Land Conservation Department page.
Please pre-register for either conference by Thursday, Feb. 21.
This conference is sponsored by North Central Graziers Network, Taylor County Land Conservation Department, Rusk County UW-Extension and WI-Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.