RUFUS - Farmers and ranchers from around the Pacific Northwest will gather in this rural town on the Columbia River on Tuesday, Nov. 28 to hear about new products, techniques, markets and ideas that could rev up farm earnings.

The event is the first "Alternatives in Agriculture - 100 Ways to Improve Farm Income" conference and exposition. It will focus on income-producing possibilities such as tapping into new markets, niche markets and alternative markets.

"We are hoping this will foster new ideas and encourage folks to look at different ways of doing things, to enhance their traditional farming or ranching practices," said Brian Tuck, an OSU Extension agent in Wasco County and one of the event organizers.

For example, Tuck said, a representative from Mid-Columbia Producers, a local grain cooperative, will talk about how separating wheat into different classes can tap into lucrative international niche markets.

Representatives from Oregon Tilth, an organization that certifies and promotes organic production, will be on hand to explain how farmers can certify their crops as organic.

The Portland-based Food Alliance will offer information on how products can qualify for "eco-labeling."

A representative from Painted Hills Natural Beef will talk about natural beef production. Among the speakers expected to attend are Rod Rominger, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. of Oregon's Second Congressional District; and Cappy Tosetti, a columnist for the regional Salem-based agricultural newspaper, The Capitol Press.

Other offerings scheduled for the conference are:

  • Alternative and added-value products from lamb and wool including production of old-fashioned wool to be used in crafts such as weaving, knitting and homespun


  • How to establish a "carbon sequestration bank," which means growing trees to absorb excess carbon in the atmosphere


  • How to transform a pest species - juniper - into a valuable commodity


  • Agricultural tourism opportunities for farm families

Representatives from local and regional banks and other lenders will be on hand to discuss ways to finance start-up operations or expand existing ones.

The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Rufus Community Center, a former elementary school building at 304 W. Second St. It costs $15 per person or $20 for two until Nov. 20, when the cost increases to $20 per person and $30 for two. The entry fee covers a barbecue lunch.

The conference is sponsored by The Lower John Day Partnership Program - the state economic development partnership between Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties - and The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

For more information, call Brian Tuck at 541-296-5494. To register, call Lyn Craig at Wheeler County Economic Development at 541-763-2355.


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Brian Tuck 541-296-5494