Conference scheduled in Willmar to focus on diverse issues in livestock agriculture
WILLMAR -- The health and wealth of animal agriculture will be featured at an all-day conference Friday in Willmar. Hot button topics like avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis and zoning issues for expanding livestock operations will be addressed...
WILLMAR -- The health and wealth of animal agriculture will be featured at an all-day conference Friday in Willmar.
Hot button topics like avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis and zoning issues for expanding livestock operations will be addressed by a variety of state and local experts, said event organizer Kim Larson of Willmar.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, Rep. Alan Juhnke, DFL- Willmar, and Rep. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, will also be speaking at the conference.
This is the fifth annual strategic animal ag conference that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has held in Willmar.
The primary focus of past conferences had been on the siting of livestock operations and the turf battles between township, county and state officials on where feedlots could be located. The dialogue from past conferences was oftentimes emotional testimonials from people supporting the benefits of either large or small animal farms.
The conference this year "will be more diverse," said Larson, who is orgainizing the event as part of his job with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
Siting and zoning issues will be on the agenda in the afternoon and will include introduction of a new state specialist who has the task of working with counties and townships on livestock zoning issues.
But much of the conference will focus on educating producers and consumers about animal health issues that could potentially have negative affects to human health and the agricultural economy.
Avian flu, which has devastated small poultry farms in other countries, is of great concern to Minnesota poultry producers including those in Kandiyohi County, which is the state's number one turkey producer, said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson, in a telephone interview Wednesday. Avian flu could "ruin the industry," he said.
Hugoson said "cautions are being taken" to prevent avian flu from coming to the United States, but he said the disease will likely come here anyway.
The conference will educate producers about the state's response to avian flu, which could include funding in the bonding bill to increase the state's ability to test for the disease. He said the conference will let consumers know they are "not at risk" of becoming ill by eating poultry if it has been properly cooked.
The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Willmar Holiday Inn/Conference Center.
The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission's agricultural and renewable energy committee is the co-sponsor of the conference, along with the Department of Agriculture.
For information about the event call the EDC at (320) 235-7370 or toll-free at 888-815-7370.
A complete agenda of the event can be found on the EDC's Web site: www.kandiyohi.com .