A half dozen educational seminars at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) 2019 annual meeting will touch on a number of key topics to inform and enlighten members, including managing stress in a volatile agricultural economy, the potential of crop and livestock diversification and progress of conservation efforts in Iowa.

“We have some very good  speakers coming to talk about issues that are on the minds of our members. I think everyone will come away with useful information that they can take back to their farms,” said Ronnette Vondrak, IFBF community resources manager. 

The IFBF annual meeting will be held Dec. 3-4 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines.

Topics for the first round of educational seminars at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, are farm stress management, crop fertility considerations and successful county Farm Bureau efforts.

Larry Tranel, Iowa State University Extension dairy specialist and psychologist, will present a session on “Farm Family Stress Management and Communication.” Tranel has worked as an Extension dairy specialist for 30 years and also has a doctorate in pastoral psychology. His experience working with farmers led him to develop Farm Couple Getaways and a Farm Stress Resource Guide.

Farm Bureau members will glean production tips from noted agronomist Ken Ferrie, of Crop Tech Consulting in Illinois, during a session titled “Match Your Crop Fertility to the Environment and Hybrid.” Ferrie, who was born and raised in northeast Iowa, is an independent crop consultant and field agronomist for Farm Journal’s test plot program.

A trio of county Farm Bureau presidents are the panelists on the session highlighting county Farm Bureau successes. Beth Baudler of Adair County, Emily Doyle of Tama County and Calvin Van Genderen of Wapello County will describe grassroots efforts that led to successful programs at the county level.

A second round of educational seminars will take place at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, including repeat presentations by Tranel on stress management and Ferrie on crop fertility.

The third afternoon breakout session will be led by Joe Outlaw, professor and Extension economist at Texas A&M University, who will discuss “Drivers Impacting the Farm Economy Now and Tomorrow.” 

Wednesday panels

Diversification and conservation are on the agenda for the third round of educational seminars at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday following the general session.

One of the panels will feature a conversation among three farmers about their non-traditional crops and livestock enterprises. Panelists are Ken Iverson of Red Barn Hemp in Oregon, Kate Edwards of Wild Woods Farm in Johnson County and Steve Howe of Howe Family Farms in Fremont County.

Iverson, who hosted Iowa Farm Bureau members on his farm during the IFBF County President’s Incentive Trip earlier this year, started growing industrial hemp in 2016 and began on-farm CBD oil extraction in 2017.

Edwards started an organic vegetable farm in 2010, an enterprise she chose because it required a smaller land-base and input capital than row crops.

Howe is a pork supplier for Niman Ranch, raising antibiotic-free hogs in an outdoor setting.

A panel of four leading Iowa water quality experts will convene for the other Wednesday morning educational seminar to provide an update on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Panelists will include Matt Lechtenberg, water quality coordinator for the Iowa Department of Agriculture; Matt Helmers, director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University; Shawn Richmond, director of environmental technology for the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council and Adam Schnieders, Iowa Department of Natural Resources water quality coordinator.

For more information, go to iowafarmbureau.com/News/IFBF-Annual-Meeting. Contact your county Farm Bureau office to register for the meeting.