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Conference scholarships available

An estimated 100 scholarships will be presented to small and limited-resource farmers to attend the Agricultural Marketing Outreach Conference at the DoubleTree Hotel in Modesto Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

The scholarships will cover the $150 conference registration fee, plus travel expenses and accommodations as needed.

"We want to make sure farmers don't stay home for financial reasons," said Susan McCue of the UC Small Farm Program, a co-sponsor of the conference. "There will be many valuable presentations, tours and demonstrations that will enhance the ability of these small-scale farmers to sell their products and stay in business."

Rominger talk The conference opens Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. with a presentation by USDA Deputy Secretary Richard Rominger. That afternoon, a panel of growers will discuss how they used record keeping, loans, grants, marketing plans and market information to improve their businesses. Individual breakout sessions will be offered on those topics following the panel presentation.

On Nov. 1, the presenters will take a realistic look at organic farming. Sessions will be offered on such topics as food quality, cooperatives and export markets. In the afternoon, participants may choose from a selection of farm tours, a workshop on soils and pest control, or a computer basics course at Modesto Junior College.

The final day of the conference, Nov. 2, will focus on new horizons in farming, including new products, agri-tourism, value-added products and direct consumer marketing.

In addition to the UC Small Farm Program, the conference is sponsored by the USDA, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, and Modesto Junior College.

Scholarship application forms may be requested by calling Birgit Hempel, UC Small Farm Center, at (530) 752-8136, or emailing [email protected]

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