Learn and grow with fellow farmers at agricultural conferences, education and networking events

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Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference speakers
Ivory Harlow photo

Early spring is the perfect time of year for farmers and other agricultural professionals to attend conferences, education and networking events. The still-frozen ground limits what we can accomplish outside, and most of us are in planning mode for the season ahead.

There are a wide range of events available to farmers in early spring. Forage schools, production seminars and expos showcasing every aspect of farming are yours for the picking. Many opportunities are conveniently located a short drive from the farm.

Opportunity to grow

conference attendees
Ivory Harlow photo

I admit that I avoided agricultural conferences, education and networking events during my first years of farming. I reasoned that actual farming was a better use of my time than talking and learning about farming. But I realized that missing an opportunity to talk and learn about farming meant missing an opportunity to become a better farmer. My ability to grow as a farmer is the most valuable asset I have on the farm. I resolved to take part in future opportunities to grow.

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Additional benefits of attendance

  • Find out what works and does not work in the field
  • Be inspired by innovative farmers, advocates of agriculture, authors and organizers
  • Gain new ideas and techniques to take home
  • Functional education prepares farmers for success
  • Make marketing connections
  • Business and financial strategies for start-up and growth
  • Actual conversations with actual people
  • Farming is a mostly solitary profession; ag events make you feel part of a team

Invest in the best

conference tools display
Ivory Harlow photo

Before you fill your calendar with ag events, know most events charge a fee to attend. Expect to pay between $15 and $200 dollars to register, depending on conference duration, speakers and agenda. Lodging, food and fuel costs are extra. You may also need to hire a farm sitter if you plan to attend multiple days.

No farmer wants to waste time and money attending an event that doesn’t fit their needs. A forage school isn’t geared for vegetable growers. A seminar offering start-up tools won’t speak to seasoned farmers. Read event agendas, scrutinize topics and check out speakers’ profiles to determine which events will help you achieve your farm goals.

5 questions to determine which events to attend

  1. What areas most need improvement on your farm? Look for events that target those areas.
  2. What skills do you need to develop to make your farm more profitable, efficient and higher quality? Find events that teach those skills.
  3. Picture your perfect farm in 5 years. What do you need to get there? Choose events that provide access to those resources.
  4. Who is speaking? Seize the opportunity to hear from role models and learn from the best.
  5. Is there an opportunity to create connections with fellow farmers in the local area? Events are a great place to network and build mutually beneficial relationships in your region.

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