December 23, 2009

The American Grassfed Association will hold its seventh annual conference, titled "Grazing America," Feb. 4 through 6 in Lexington. Designed for producers, users and supporters of grass-fed products, the conference is co-hosted by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Berea College.

This year's conference will have two themes, "Growing Your Grassfed Business" and "From Farm Gate to Customer's Plate," and will offer sessions in three locations--at the Hyatt Regency Lexington, on the UK campus and in Berea. Transportation will be provided to sessions taking place away from the hotel.

UK College of Agriculture professionals will lead several conference sessions on the morning of Feb. 5. UK agricultural economists Lee Meyer and Greg Halich, joined by Gregg Rentfrow, UK meat science extension specialist, will put on an extensive management and marketing workshop on grass-fed production systems. Approximately two weeks after the conference, the UK team will hold a follow-up webinar to answer additional questions.

Glen Aiken, UK associate professor in plant and soil sciences, will draw on his collaborations in Brazil and South Africa to offer global perspectives on grass finishing.

Ray Smith, UK associate professor in plant and soil sciences, will lead a session covering the selection and management of forages for grass-fed ruminant production.

Brandon Foote, from Redmond Natural Minerals and Redmond Heritage Farms in Utah, will give an overview of grass-fed dairying and utilization of natural minerals in all grass-based production systems.

In the afternoon, the sessions will move to Berea College where Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty members Mike Panciera, Bob Harned, Pete Lammers and Neil Douglas will lead sessions on intensive grazing and forage stockpiling for cattle; comparing indoor and outdoor hog production; and endophyte-free fescue and goats.

Chef and writer Betty Fussell, author of "The Story of Corn," and "Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef," will speak at dinner that night.

Two intensive sessions will be offered on Saturday, Feb. 6: a session on butchery, held in the UK Animals Science Meat Lab, and a cooking session with Chef Michael Leviton of Lumiere Restaurant in Newton, Mass. and Louisville's Chef Jay Denham. During lunch, UK Professor Garry Lacefield, extension forage specialist, will present an overview of Kentucky.

Dinner that night will include a writer's panel, "Meat on the Table: Past, Present and Local," with Fussell, Gary Nabhan, author of "Renewing America's Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent's Most Endangered Foods" and UK Anthropology Professor John van Willigen, author of "Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950." A book signing will follow the panel discussion.

Visit the American Grassfed Association's Web site, http://http://www.americangrassfed.org/, for a detailed conference schedule, registration form and lodging information.

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