Grazing conference upcoming

Grazing conference upcoming

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For the past two decades, the annual Ohio Grazing Conference for Dairy has brought area farmers insight into how to increase productivity and advance operations and has provided many new and innovative ideas to make farming both easier and more productive.

The 22nd annual Ohio Grazing Conference will take place at the Mt. Hope Event Center on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 26-27 in a venue loaded with seminars, product vendors, seminars designed for women and the return of the Mid-Ohio Shepherds Forum.

The event will feature 42 speakers, more than 100 vendors and insight into grazing techniques.

“We have an incredible, well-rounded line-up of speakers who will share their expertise and knowledge with us,” planning committee member Ivan Troyer said. “When the founding fathers of this event started it, there wasn’t a lot of information out there and available to the grazing farming industry. Fortunately, we have experienced incredible growth in this event that has allowed us to create a great deal of diversity in what we can present. It’s been an exciting endeavor, and our relationship with our vendors and sponsors is a big reason we’ve been able to present a fantastic show filled with important speakers and information.”

One of the nice things about this event is it connects with both small-scale and large-scale farming operations. The two-day event is full of knowledgeable speakers.

The weekend also will provide an opportunity for farmers to connect and share with one another. The conference focuses on preparing farmers to keep pace with a changing market, working with the community to create agricultural businesses and emerging niche farming, preserving Ohio’s resources and promoting stewardship of family farms to maintain a healthy environment, and helping new and old farming ventures achieve profitability and sustainability.

“This is about connecting with real farmers on a level that hits home for them,” Troyer said.

The day-one venue is highlighted by several keynote speakers. The morning session will feature local farmer Andrew Coblentz, who will present Benefits of Once-a-Day Milking.

“Andrew has an amazing story,” Troyer said. “It all came about kind of by accident when he and his family were forced to go to the once-a-day milking due to tough circumstances. Once they started, they have remained committed to it and have found real benefits that have led to more quality family time.”

The late-morning break-out session will feature Spending Our First Million, a panel counsel by local farmers Steven Beachy, Nelson Troyer, Norman Miller and Jacob Beachy, with Harvey Bowman moderating.

This session will focus on the benefits of farmers in the area working to unite and support one another in group membership.

“It has motivated its members to get their financial numbers in order and to keep their farm in shape because it brings a sense of accountability to helping one another,” Troyer said. “It has built a tremendous working relationship among its members.”

Day one’s focus will be on group benefits and accountability while the day-two “Million” session will focus on the meaning behind the numbers and why the numbers matter.

“On a farm it doesn’t take long to spend $1 million, so we hope this session introduces some new ideas to the people,” Troyer said.

Day two’s “Million” panel will include Anthony Schlabach, Daniel Mast, Christian Chupp and Paul Mark Mullet with Wade Miller and Regina Beidler moderating.

The keynote session on both days will be a presentation from Atlee Raber titled 100 Years in Mexico: Diversity in Agriculture with the Old Colony Mennonites.

“The story of faith, farming and family in a foreign culture is fascinating,” Troyer said. “This incredible journey of the Mennonite people who have taken farming to Mexico is inspiring.”

The Old Colony Mennonites’ dedication to cultivate a desert land and to introduce cattle raising as a profitable endeavor has made a large impact on the people of Mexico.

There also will be women’s sessions both days with topics like prioritizing household duties, a lady’s farm tour, a couple’s panel discussion, and A Land Flowing With Milk featuring Shawn and Beth Dougherty, owners of Sow’s Ear Farm in Jefferson County.

In addition, Farming in Charm will feature Ada Hershberger presenting a lady’s farm tour.

“We’ve created a wonderful variety of topics focused on women on the farm,” Troyer said. “Farming is a team effort, and women continue to play a critical role in any successful farm.”

There will be additional featured speakers throughout both days and vendor shows throughout.

The day-two Shepherd’s Session will feature everything sheep related: Lambing and Its Challenge, Shepherd’s Panel, a discussion with several local shepherds, Alternative Forages Panel, Transitioning From Dairy to Sheep by Dustin Miller, and Livestock Guard Animals by Rebecca Miller.

“The shepherd’s portion of this event has become a real highlight,” Troyer said. “It connects with shepherds in so many ways, and we had close to 400 shepherds attend last year, so it has been well received and incredibly informative.”

This portion of the event is held in conjunction with Mid-Ohio Shepherds.

The cost to attend the event is $30 for both days and $20 for an individual day for those registering prior to Jan. 12. After that the cost is $30 per day or $45 for a two-day pass. The cost not only gets a person into the venue, but also includes breakfast in the morning and a full lunch meal at noon.

Thanks to the increased space at the event center, there will be even more vendors than last year, in which 92 vendors highlighted the show. Vendor space remains available, and anyone wishing to learn more or become a vendor can call Vernon Mast at 330-600-1530 or email Dan Geiser at