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OGS looks at booming hemp marketplace and organic soil risk

A pair of educational sessions devoted to reducing organic soil risk and an examination of the burgeoning hemp marketplace have been announced as part of the 2019 Organic Grower Summit educational program, slated for this December in Monterey, CA.ogs

The two newly announced education sessions are part of an extensive OGS educational program designed to inform and engage organic growers, farmers and producers, and their service and supply chain partners.  The third annual OGS is made possible by partners California Certified Organic Farmers and Organic Produce Network and designed to provide information vital to organic farmers and ranchers, as well as an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the production of organic fresh food.

Kicking off the 2019 OGS educational program will be a two-and-a-half-hour intensive education session “Strategies to Reduce Risk through Organic Soil Health Practices” on Wednesday, Dec. 4.  The session will feature a panel of organic growing and production experts discussing how to identify and implement effective soil health-based risk reduction practices and exploring different research topics such as seed and plant breeding, soil health and weed and pest issues.

Panelists for the session include Phil Foster, founder and owner of Foster Ranch; Steve Pavich, senior plant nutritionist at BioFlora; and Jared Zystro, research and education assistant director at The Organic Seed Alliance. The session will be moderated by Haley Baron, education and research program associate at the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

“Organic farmers are confronted with an array of production risks, including yield losses resulting from poor germination, extreme weather events, weeds, pests, and nutrient limitations.  Growers can experience long-term declines in crop productivity related to soil erosion, compaction, and/or degradation. Building and maintaining healthy soil — rich in organic matter and beneficial organisms — is one of the best strategies growers can implement to mitigate these risks," said Baron.

“The Growing Hemp Market in the U.S.” will explore the market for hemp and what lies ahead for producers and extractors of organic hemp.   Panelists for the session include Chris Boucher, CEO of Farmtiva, and Ray Drysdale, founder and CEO of PureCrop1.   The session will be moderated by April Crittenden, chief certification officer for CCOF.

Nationwide, as legal and regulatory barriers are removed and consumer education spreads, Hemp Business Journal estimates the U.S. hemp industry will grow to a $1.9 billion-dollar market by 2022.  As of February, 41 states had approved cultivation of hemp, although only 24 states were growing it this year.  In total, 78,176 acres of hemp were cultivated last year, compared to 25,713 in 2017.

“The legalization of hemp production via the 2018 farm bill provides new opportunities for farmers and processors. Hemp is a sustainable crop that has the potential to both change the agricultural landscape and boost the United States economy,” Crittenden said.  

Among other topics that will be addressed by organic industry leaders at OGS are the impact of technological advances in organic agriculture, a look at what lies ahead for plant health, and taking a proactive stance on sustainability reporting efforts.

OGS 2019 will be held at the Monterey Conference Center Monterey on Dec. 4-5. General and exhibitor registration is currently open with fewer than 30 booths remaining available. For more information on the third annual Organic Grower Summit, visit www.organicgrowersummit.com.