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Sustainable Agriculture Experts Gather in Wisconsin

Helping beginning farmers get into production agriculture is one of the goals of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which is holding a nation meeting in Wisconsin. (Jean-Francois Mineri/Getty Images)
Helping beginning farmers get into production agriculture is one of the goals of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which is holding a nation meeting in Wisconsin. (Jean-Francois Mineri/Getty Images)
August 3, 2017

MADISON, Wis. -- One of the nation's premiere agriculture organizations, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, will hold its annual meeting this coming Sunday through Wednesday in Madison on the University of Wisconsin campus.

The group is observing its 30th year of advocating for policies that aid in development of a more sustainable farm and food system. The four-day meeting will look both at the past and the future, according to Greg Fogel, policy director at NSAC.

"Our member organizations identify our priorities for the year each year in January and we use the August meeting to check in on where things stand, the work we've done over the last half year, and what we can do looking toward the latter half of the year to advance these goals,” Fogel said.

Among the issues to be discussed at the meeting are working toward a viable Farm Bill in Washington, D.C., climate change and its impact on sustainable agriculture, and immigration reform. There are also sessions on helping new farmers get into production agriculture, and helping traditional farmers transition to organic production.

Fogel said another key area is working to enhance the economic power of organic and sustainable agriculture.

"There's a lot of attention right now on sustainable agriculture, on local foods as an economic driver - a mechanism to create jobs, especially in rural areas, and as a way to bring rural and urban together to connect producers to the new markets,” he said. “There's a lot of attention on conservation."

One of the main roles of NSAC is as a Washington-based advocacy organization, working on a wide range of policy issues that directly affect the organization's many grassroots members. Fogel said developing organic and sustainable agriculture is a non-partisan issue.

"We'll have to put together a coalition in Congress that can get behind a farm bill and get the votes necessary to pass something that has meaningful reforms and investments,” he said. "That will certainly be a challenge, but it's also very doable."

Several Wisconsin organizations will be involved in the meeting, including Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and Organic Valley. The meeting will not be open to the public.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI