January 25, 2014
“Record rainfall in September brought most us nearly up to ‘normal’ annual
precipitation levels, greened up the rangeland, but the rain came so
hard and fast that much of it ran off,” reads part of the introduction
to the upcoming New Mexico Organic Farming Conference.
“Acequias were damaged and fields were buried in sediment. And we’re still
desperately short of water in the rivers and dams. Without good
snowpack this winter, we face exceptional irrigation shortages in 2014.”
The above words set the tone for the 2014 conference, which is scheduled
for the weekend of February 14-15 at the Marriott Pyramid North hotel in Albuquerque.
Organized by Farm to Table, the New Mexico State
University Cooperative Extension Service and the New Mexico Department
of Agriculture (NMDA), this year’s edition of a now much-anticipated
event will bring together experts, researchers, farmers, and exhibiters
in both theoretical and practical sessions.
Filled with numerous workshops, the conference holds relevance not only for New
Mexicans, but also for farmers, ranchers, food activists and the broader
public from across the West, the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and beyond.
“This is the largest and most diverse agricultural conference held in New
Mexico,” said Joanie Quinn, conference co-organizer and NMDA’s organic
commodity adviser. “The information that is presented is vital to any
producers. Most of those attending the conference are not organic
The topics on the conference schedule explore many
dimensions of farming in a drought era, including soil salinity, water
rights, climate change and water scarcity, drip irrigation, organic
orchard management in dry times, and much, much more.
Conference organizers pose the question: “Is it drought, or is this the new normal?”
Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer, research scientist with the U.S. Geological
Survey, is the planned keynote speaker. Of Crow tribal descent, Dr.
Hiza Redsteer currently works on the Navajo Nation, where she does
geological mapping, studies climate change and land use history and
assesses drought impacts, among other tasks. She is a contributing
author to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC).
The report will be unveiled in different stages this year, according to the IPCC’s website.
Conference organizers have lined up a roster of other speakers with diverse
farming and ranching backgrounds. The scheduled presenters include Jeff
Witte, NMDA director; Tom Dean, New Mexico State University Cooperative
Extension Service department head for nine southwestern counties; Gary
Paul Naban, acclaimed author, food activist and Arizona farmer; and
Helen Atthowe, organic agriculture consultant, grower and farm systems
analyst with experience in several states.
Sponsors and other benefactors of the 2014 conference include the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute, Silver City Food Co-op, the New Mexico Farm and Livestock
Bureau, Bueno Foods, Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm, and many others.
For more information interested persons can call Le Adams at 505-473-1004 (ext.10) or Joanie Quinn at 505-889-9921
The full conference program can be accessed at: http://www.farmtotablenm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2014-Organic-Conference-program-FINAL-lo.pdf
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Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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