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Women farmers to focus on opportunities of ‘change’

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WENATCHEE — A seventh-generation farm owner from Vermont will share her strategies for farming success at the 2014 Women in Agriculture Conference set for next month at 28 locations around the Northwest, including Wenatchee.

The one-day event, called “Change Happens: Make It an Opportunity,” will feature inspirational speakers, practical advice for improving farm management skills and opportunities to network with other women producers.

Last year, nearly 500 women attended,” said Margaret Viebrock, conference organizer and director of Washington State University’s Douglas County Extension office. “Many attendees reported it was one of the best conferences for women producers they’d been to.”

In Wenatchee, the Women in Ag Conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 15 at the Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way. Registration is $25 before March 1 and $30 after that date. The fee pays for the conference, a light breakfast, lunch, printed handouts and a book.

The conference will also be held simultaneously at two other area locations: in Nespelem at the CCT-CFS Building, 37 Arrow Lake Ave., and in Republic at the WSU Extension office at the Ferry County Courthouse, 350 E. Delaware Ave. The conference will also take place at the same time at 25 other locations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

At each site, three local presenters will discuss how they adapted to and profited from change in their farming operations. The keynote address by Vermont farmer Heather Darby will be broadcast to all locations as part of a Web teleconference.

Darby will talk about her family’s 200-year-old, 130-acre farm that produces a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, and includes a small apiary, fruit-and-vegetable farm stand and a custom grazing service for local organic dairies.

She’ll discuss how change has been a constant in her operation,” said Viebrock, “and how it’s presented her with a variety of opportunities related to financial issues, organizational management, employees, starting a family and handling risk management issues related to weather, prices and work-life balance.”

To get more information or register, visit womeninag.wsu.edu or call (509) 745-8531.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.