There is still time to sign up for the 2011 Agricultural Enterprise Area Forum scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. The forum, "Preparing for Wisconsin's Agricultural and Economic Future," is hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
If your farm or agricultural business is located in one of Wisconsin's agricultural enterprise areas or if you are interested in creating one for your community, you need to attend 2011 Agricultural Enterprise Area Forum.
"Agriculture and farming always face some uncertainty. Before expanding, a farmer has to consider if there is a business or processor to take the product. If a business expands, will there be farms to support the expansion?" said DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel. "An AEA can provide some certainty to farms and businesses as farmers voluntarily commit to remaining in agriculture for at least 15 years."
Keynote presentations by Steven Deller, PhD and Bruce Jones, PhD, faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics will address the economics of agriculture and the industry's future in Wisconsin.
"We are pleased to have Professors Deller and Jones at the forum to share their perspective on the current status and future direction of Wisconsin agriculture," Brancel said. "This information can help farmers, agri-businesses and local governments in our AEAs consider different options to position themselves in order to take advantage of future trends."
After lunch, a panel discussion will look at resources to achieve economic development goals. Speakers include Paul Dietmann, director, Wisconsin Farm Center, DATCP; Teresa Engel, director, "Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin," DATCP; and Frank Frassetto, regional development manager, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Mike Powers, administrator, Agricultural Development Division, DATCP, will moderate.
Following are two afternoon breakout sessions. One is a roundtable discussion with current AEA representatives to cover updates, activities and lessons learned. The second is open to communities interested in pursuing AEA designation. Coreen Fallat, AEA program manager, DATCP, will discuss steps to consider to establish a successful AEA proposal.
The forum's intended audience is landowners, local officials, and county staff within designated AEAs, community leaders interested in forming AEAs, and agribusinesses and economic development organizations. Any interested individual can attend, regardless if they are a part of a designated AEA.
"We will begin to accept new petitions for AEA designation this fall. The forum is a chance to explore what the program can offer and have questions answered," Fallat said.
The AEA program gives statewide designation to areas identified by the local community as critical for farmland preservation and important for future agricultural investment. There are 17 areas designated or recommended for designation, totaling approximately 340,000 acres statewide. Visit http://datcp.wi.gov/Environment/Working_Lands_Initiative/AEA/index.aspx for program details.
The forum will be on Tues., Sept. 27, Kalahari Resort, 1305 Kalahari Dr., Wisconsin Dells, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Registration is $25 which includes lunch and refreshments. To register, visit datcpservices.wisconsin.gov/confreg/agforum.jsp or call (608) 224-4625. Registration deadline is Sept. 22.