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IFOAM International Conference on Animals in Organic Production

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The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) will hold the first-ever international conference on organic livestock from August 23-25, 2006, on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. The registration deadline - August 15th - is fast approaching, and those considering attending are encouraged to register at once to take part in this historic event.


Today the world is confronted by the negative repercussions of industrial animal agriculture. The pollution from animal waste harms waterways, human health, aquatic life and the animals themselves. An example of a tragedy caused in large part by this agricultural model is the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, which in 1999 covered an area of 7728 square miles (12437 square kilometers), which would cover all of the water in Minnesota, the land of 10000 lakes. There are many other threats from industrial agricultural practices.

Organic Agrculture takes a systematic approach that strives to ensure  none of these elements are part of animal production systems, and IFOAM has seen the need to unite and improve these efforts globally, and is bringing together leading livestock researchers and producers from throughout the world to make this happen.


This conference will focus on key issus concerning organic livestock and animal husbandry, conentrating on health and food safety, marketing trends, and innovation in organic livestock systems.


The conference will begin on August 23 with tours of organic livestock farms in the Twin Cities area, including a tour of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (, which features spectacular annual and perennial display gardens, collections of plants developed for northern climates, natural and native areas, and demonstration gardens.


Tour bus stops include Cedar Summit Dairy, Jeff and Pam Riesgraf organic dairy, Roger and Michelle Benrud organic dairy, the O'Reilly's Shamrock Organic Dairy, John Luhman's organic grassfed beef farm, Harmony Organic Poultry, Brad and Leanne Donnay's organic goat dairy, and the Diffley's Gardens of Eagan organic produce farm. Those interested in the preparation and sale of organic livestock products will have the chance visit several retail stores in the Twin Cities area. It will be an action-packed and informative day!


During the evening of August 23, opening remarks will be delivered by Minnesota's Commissioner of Agriculture, Gene Hugoson, and the UMN's Dean of Extension, Bev Durgan. The opening keynote will given by Dr. Fred Kirschenmann of Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Dr. Kirschenmann will discuss, "Animals in an Organic System - Exploring the Ecological, Social, and Economic Functions of Animals in Organic Agriculture."


Dr. Mette Vaarst, DVM, of the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, will speak on "Sustaining Animal Health and Food Safety Through Organic Methods" during the morning keynote on August 24. There will be workshops on organic poultry, dairy, sheep, hogs, and beef, as well as organic livestock standards. Groundbreaking research will be presented on differences between antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on organic vs conventional livestock farms.


Noted author, researcher, and acclaimed speaker Dr. Temple Grandin will present the evening keynote, which will be held in the North Star Ballroom of the UMN Student Center. Dr. Grandin, an autistic woman who has developed humane livestock handling systems used worldwide, will present "Animals in Translation," which explores how animals see the world.

The evening of August 24 will conclude with a dance party in the North Star Ballroom, with music provided by The Pheromones!


Dr. David Wallinga, MD, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, will give the morning keynote on August 25. Dr. Wallinga will discuss "Antibiotic Resistance and the Organic Alternative." There will be workshops on humane treatment, biosecurity, animal health, market access, milk quality, and food safety.


The closing keynote will be given by Jim Riddle, the UMN's Coordinator for Organic Agriculture Outreach, who will discuss "Fostering Organic Livestock Research - Priorities and Preferences." The program will conclude with reports from session moderators on key findings of the conference, along with a conference resolution, presented by Angela B. Caudle, IFOAM's Executive Director.


The registration deadline is August 15. Complete information about the conference, including on-line registration, can be found at:


Sponsors for the conference include Organic Valley, Newman's Own Organics, Northland Organic Foods, Stoneyfield Farm, Indian Herbs, Horizon Organic, Aurora Organic Dairy, FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, MOSES - Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services, Organic Choice, OTA - Organic Trade Association, Sunrich/SunOpta, Crystal Creek, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the University of Minnesota.

Delicious local organic food will be served throughout the conference, with donations from Gardens of Eagan, Organic Valley, Stoneyfield Farm, Horizon Organic, Nancy's Organic Yogurt, The Wedge, French Meadow Bakery, Coop Partners Warehouse, Frey Organic Vineyards, Pastureland Dairy, Peace Coffee, and Cornercopia, the UMN's Student Organic Farm on the St. Paul campus. 


IFOAM offers a special thanks to MOSES and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota for fiscal sponsorship.


For more information, contact:

            Jim Riddle
            Organic Outreach Coordinator
            University of Minnesota
            31762 Wiscoy Ridge Road
            Winona, MN  55987
            Ph/fax: 507-454-8310
            Cell: 507-429-7959


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