Agriculture in brief: Kansas Winter Forage Conference, Western Colorado forum go virtual

Candace Krebs
Special to Ag Journal

Kansas forage conference switches to virtual format

The annual Winter Forage Conference, hosted by the Kansas Forage and Grassland Council and Kansas State University and originally scheduled to take place in Great Bend on Dec. 10, has now been switched to an online-only event. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. CST, covering several topics including pasture management and weed control, current hay prices and statistics, alfalfa management, insect control and a research update. The event is free for current KSFGC members whose membership extends into 2021 and $25 for non-members, payable online.

Forum for Colorado Agriculture cancelled

The Colorado Ag Leadership Program Board has canceled the annual Forum for Colorado Agriculture typically held in February. The forum has been held annually for the last 29 years. In recent years, it had been planned and produced by current members of the Colorado Ag Leadership Program. The 2021 forum would have been CALP Class 14’s final project before graduation. CALP Class 15 has been selected and will start their learning experience and preparations for the 2022 forum after the first of the year.

Cottage food training offered in mid-December

Learn how to safely produce food from home as a cottage food business. Colorado Department of Agriculture offers an online course that covers a variety of topics including basic food safety, foods that are permissible under the updated Colorado Cottage Foods Act, ingredient labeling, special considerations for food preparation at high altitudes, and safe food sampling best practices. The next class is scheduled for Dec. 16. Registration is $40.

New hashtag encourages shopping local

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade launched a new hashtag campaign, #ShopLocalColorado, to support Colorado small businesses during the holiday shopping season. Shoppers can visit the Shop Local Colorado website to see a list of shop local campaigns in communities across that state.

Western Colorado forum goes virtual

The Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum, the Western Slope’s foremost agriculture conference, will be held virtually in 2021. The 2021 conference, Jan. 22-23, marks the ninth annual event and will bring together experts with local, regional and international agricultural experience to share their latest research and innovations.

Researchers link meat processing to COVID-19 spread

Livestock processing plants “may act as transmission vectors” for spreading the coronavirus, according to researchers who associated them with 6-8% of all COVID-19 cases nationwide during the early months of the pandemic. Ensuring both public health and robust essential supply chains could require an increase in meatpacking oversight and potentially a shift toward “more decentralized, smaller-scale meat production,” according to a research paper that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. U.S. meat production slowed last spring and meat prices rose in grocery stores due to disease outbreaks among packing plant workers. At least 253 meatpacking workers have died and more than 49,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Grains outlook bullish

U.S. grain farmers are ending the year on a strong note, according to Tanner Ehmke, manager of CoBank's Knowledge Exchange, based in Denver. Ehmke expects that momentum to carry into 2021. The La Nina weather pattern is stressing South American prospects for corn and soybeans at the same time Russians are dealing with food inflation and putting export limitations in place. Ehmke said U.S. crop exports have also been buoyed by a weakening U.S. dollar. According to one estimate, the value of the dollar could drop by as much as 20 percent in the year ahead.

Company announces new carbon program

Nutrien is launching what it calls the agricultural industry's most comprehensive carbon program, providing end-to-end support for growers to increase sustainability and boost profitability. The Canadian company said it plans to partner directly with growers to plan, plant and track sustainable farming practices and improve carbon performance. As part of the program, Nutrien said it will provide sustainable products and solutions, year-round dedicated agronomic counsel and the industry's leading digital platform to track and measure results. Additionally, Nutrien will enable growers to monetize their improved carbon performance at the farm level by facilitating the purchase and sale of carbon credits from its grower customers to value-chain partners. The pilot program will start in North America and eventually extend to South America and Australia. Demand for carbon credits in the voluntary market has more than doubled since 2017, according to Ecosystem Marketplace.