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2002/12/18

Marketplace For Ideas Conference In Agriculture January 2-3 At UT Martin The second annual Marketplace for Ideas in Agriculture Conference and Trade Show is scheduled for January 2 and 3 at the University of Tennessee at Martin Boling University Center. The Marketplace for Ideas concept was developed to help farmers and other agribusiness people from Tennessee and surrounding states learn to add value to the products they produce, to diversify their operations or to use their farmlands for new ventures. The two-day conference is funded through a USDA Rural Business Opportunity Grant and will be conducted through the efforts of many of Tennessee's agriculture related organizations and agencies. Peggy Hamlett, UT Extension Service specialist in value-added agriculture, will serve as the conference coordinator. This year's program features three main "tracks," or areas of focus, with eight breakout sessions per track for a total of 24 separate sessions. The value- added agriculture track features sessions on fee grazing, ag products for the holidays, a "how to" on marketing production ideas and agri-tourism. The alternative agriculture track has breakout sessions on goat production, specialty crops for farmers, sweet potatoes, organics and Tennessee labeling laws. The schedule also includes a track on cooperative agriculture, which features important news about soy diesel, ethanol, and contemporary livestock marketing opportunities. Attendees will also have the opportunity to investigate shrimp production, bedding plant production, corn mazes and the use of farmland for hunting. The trade show features current entrepreneurs and support businesses or services for one-on-one questions and discussions. "This is an opportunity for policy makers, producers, suppliers, lenders and donors to openly discuss new possibilities and ways that producers can add income to their bottom line," Hamlett said. A consultation room will be offered so attendees may meet one-on-one with speakers. Conference organizers encourage participants to have outlines and plans of possible projects ready to be reviewed by session experts. A hot, cafeteria style meal is included during the full day session on January 3. For more information about the Marketplace for Ideas in Agriculture Conference and Trade Show, visit http://www.utm.edu/~ideasinag/, or contact Dr. Peggy Hamlett, conference coordinator, at (731) 425-4711, or Dr. Jim Byford, dean, UT Martin College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, at (731) 587-7250. For information through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, contact Stanley Trout, chief of marketing services, 615-837-5346. Those interested in exhibiting at the trade show may download an exhibitor registration form at http://www.utm.edu/~ideasinag/ or call 731-425-4718 for the form.

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