MONTROSE – With workshops from over 20 presentations available, a focal point of agricultural water issues and a keynote address from the Colorado River Colorado Conservation District’s Eric Kuhn, the Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum, now in its second year continues to grow and become one of the state’s go-to conferences on agriculture. The conference is set for this Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Montrose Pavilion,
Because water plays such an important role to agriculture and with the rollout of the Colorado Water Plan, this year’s Farm Forum will focus on “Making Every Drop Count” for farmers, ranchers and stakeholders. This year, the forum will offer workshops in five focus areas including efficient water management, maximizing crop production, optimizing livestock production, innovated agriculture business and marketing strategies, and specialty crops.
“Our conference strives to be comprehensive, from livestock to crops management and marketing,” Valley Food Partnership President Carol Parker said. “This year, we have a whole track on water and will have 20 breakout sessions that are very diverse. We are trying to provide a venue where producers of any production method can come in and learn something and find the latest on a number of different topics.”
Those who attend can choose four, one-hour workshops from 20 different presentations including efficient irrigations systems, cover crop savvy, deficit irrigation and alfalfa, high tunnel management, whole farm business planning, adapting to changing food markets, integrating livestock with cover crops, and mini-hydro power systems.
Organizers hope that producers can gain practical information to improve their operations as well as learn about issues that are critical to the future of agriculture. Kuhn, this year’s keynote speaker, is known for his work on many issues surrounding the over-allocation of Colorado water, its competing demands and the factors of drought, storage, politics and population growth.
In addition to his keynote address, which is titled “Agricultural Implications of Drought and Declining Reservoirs”, Kuhn will host an hour-long presentation on water banking, a system that enables the marketable transfer of surface, groundwater and storage entitlements.
“Eric has been to a number of water conferences in the state and a lot of people know and respect him,” Parker said. “I am really looking forward to Eric being here. He is courageous and fair minded.”
Kuhn also plans to foster local input and facilitate discussion regarding parts of the new Colorado Water Plan.
Because last year’s Farm Forum was so well attended at the Montrose County Fairgrounds, organizers decided to move this year’s conference to the roomier Montrose Pavilion. If the forum continues to grow in popularity, Parker said she would like to make it a two-day conference at some point.
“Last year, we had twice the number of participants show up than we had anticipated so we felt we needed to move it to the Pavilion where the breakout spaces are bigger,” she said. “Our goal is to eventually have a two-day conference at both locations. Last year we had people attend from all over including Durango, Moab, and Ft. Collins.”
The conference is a collaborative effort among the Valley Food Partnership, CSU Tri-River Area Extension Service, the Shavano Conservation District, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative, the City of Montrose and Montrose County.
While pre-registration closed on Jan. 8, those wishing to attend can still register at the event for $65. The day-long conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a reception afterward. A locally produced lunch will be provided, although those who register the day of the event will not be guaranteed lunch.
For more information visit foodfarmforum.org.