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2018 Conference - "Connect | Innovate | Grow"

November 8, 2018 | Evergreen State Fairgrounds | Monroe, WA

Technology is all around us, even on our farms. Robotics in the milking parlor, a drone checking soil moisture and apps on your phone to tell you the heat units on your farm or to keep track of your livestock records. It’s a fast changing industry with so many opportunities to help with efficiencies and reduce time and labor. This year’s Focus on Farming will not only have our regular updates and features it will also include numerous workshops and speakers to help us all take advantage of these new opportunities in technology.

Whether organic or conventional, livestock or row crops, large or small production, Focus on Farming is committed to the economic viability for all types of farming. Providing quality education to sustain current farmers and attracting new farmers to our region is a critical component in securing the next generation's local food supply. Please join us for a full day of new ideas, old friends and a delicious local lunch.

2017 Focus on Farming

This year’s keynote speaker Mike Pearson, host of Public Televisions Market to Market takes an in-depth look at the way agriculture will be changing in the next 20 years with address “The Four MegaTrends in Agriculture”.  The past century has been one of non-stop progress in efficiency, technology and yield and Mike pulls together his wide-ranging reports on the industry to analyze the four biggest trends driving agriculture forward.

Analytics: Big Data has been the watchword in production for the past several years, and the future will see new tools that allow producers to analyze the piles of data they have been collecting.  The new suite of applications will put growers back in the driver’s seat for decision making; as they’ll be able to model various input application rates, hybrid selection and weather effects on the crops they are contemplating.

Robotics: Many consumers are already familiar with robots taking care of some household chores like vacuuming.  It won’t be much longer before we see true robotics in the field, reducing the burden of time consuming tasks.  From weed eradication to manure lagoon agitation, as qualified help on the farm becomes harder to find, robots will be a logical place for farmers to invest capital.

Biotechnology: The field of biotech saw incredible advances over the past decade as science and profits combined to allow geneticists and plant breeders space to try amazing things.  In the next two decades, those advances become a springboard for some truly revolutionary changes to the industry.  This will encompass not just plant-based biotech, but biological soil amendments and treatments as well.

Structure: The industry will continue to change.  As record-level profits become just a memory, producers will find new ways to maximize their ROI.  There will be continued consolidation at all levels; farm, elevator and coop and input supplier.  The lines will be blur between retailer and wholesaler as larger growers operate more like elevators and demand greater leverage from suppliers.  There will also be a growing number of smaller scale producers dedicated to niche markets; the organic or local food movements are most likely here to stay as consumers continue to have the disposable income to make those food decisions.

The next 20 years in agriculture are going to be a fascinating ride, and American producers are uniquely poised to capture an impressive share of the worlds business.  Let Mike Pearson help your group navigate this future to prosperity!