The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences announces its fifth annual Ag Forecast Series. The sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 24 in Gainesville, Jan. 25 in Tifton, Jan. 27 in Statesboro, Feb. 9 in Carrollton and Feb. 10 in Macon. A networking lunch will follow each forecast.
Producers, policymakers, agribusiness professionals and consumers will hear the 2011 economic outlook for agriculture from UGA agricultural economists. Local speakers will share success stories, and a keynote speaker will offer a broad view on the locally grown movement. A question-and-answer session will follow the speakers’ presentations.
Participants will receive a copy of the 2011 Ag Forecast book, which gives a detailed analysis of each major agricultural product – from broilers to blueberries – produced in Georgia.
Gainesville, Jan. 24
At the Gainesville session, Ken Meter, the executive director of Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, Minn., will discuss local food systems. He is one of the top food system analysts in the U.S. His “Finding Food in Farm Country” studies have promoted food networks in 45 regions in 20 states and one Canadian province. He heads the proposal review process for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Food Projects. He directed the public process for the award-winning Minneapolis sustainability plan.
Tim Young will be the guest speaker. He believes in harmony on his sustainable 125-acre farm in Elberton, Ga. His farm, Nature’s Harmony, offers grass-fed Murray Grey and Angus beef, pastured poultry and eggs, free-foraging heritage Ossabaw and Berkshire pork, heritage turkeys, pastured lamb and organic honey. Young sells his products locally through Community Sponsored Agriculture and at several local famers markets.
John McKissick will give the economic outlook. McKissick is a distinguished professor of agricultural marketing at UGA CAES.
The Gainesville session will be held at the Georgia Mountains Center Jan. 24.
Tifton, Jan. 25
Meter will also discuss local food systems at the Tifton session, which will be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Jan. 25.
Bill Brim will be the guest speaker. He farms 4,000 acres of vegetables in Tifton. He raises vegetable transplants and pine tree seedlings in greenhouses and has modern packing and shipping facilities on his farms.
Nathan Smith, UGA CAES professor of agricultural economics, will give the economic outlook.
Statesboro, January 27
At the Statesboro session Jan. 27, Kirk Farquharson, the Southeast Regional Office Farm to School Coordinator with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, will discuss local food systems.
George Shumaker, professor emeritus with the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, will give the economic outlook.
The Statesboro session will be held at the Nessmith-Lane Center.
Carrollton, Feb. 9
Farquharson will discuss local food systems at the Carrollton session Feb. 9.
Bluffton, Ga., cattle farmer Will Harris will be the guest speaker. His White Oak Pastures is the largest USDA certified organic farm in Georgia. His herds freely graze native grasses and are not given hormones, antibiotics or non-natural feeds. Harris also raises free-range Bronze turkeys. He uses an on-farm processing plant. Harris’ beef is sold in Publix Supermarkets and at Whole Food Markets. Ground beef is distributed through Destiny Organics and Tree of Life, which delivers frozen natural foods to health food stores along the eastern seaboard.
Curt Lacy, a UGA Cooperative Extension economist, will give the economic outlook.
The Carrollton session will be held at the Carroll County Ag Center.
Macon, Feb. 10
Farquharson will discuss local food systems in Macon Feb. 10.
Russell Johnston will be the guest speaker. He runs Johnston Dairy in Newborn, Ga., a family business in operation since 1956. The farm milks between 80 and 100 cows a day and yields more than 8 gallons per cow. The farm bottles its milk fresh on the farm. His dairy products, including handmade small batch cheese and yogurt, are sold in specialty markets across north Georgia and are served in fine restaurants. The farm produces much of the cows diet as well, growing wheat, barley, grain sorghum, hay, oats and rye grass for silage.
Don Shurley, a UGA Extension agricultural economist, will give the economic outlook.
The Macon session will be held at the Georgia Farm Bureau Building.
Registration will open at 9:30 a.m. at each session. The sessions cost $30 per person or $200 for a table of eight. For more information and to register, visit www.georgiaagforecast.com.
(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)