Business

Focus on Farming, Nov. 4, offers glimpse of ag’s future

MARYSVILLE — Snohomish County’s Focus on Farming Conference returns Thursday, Nov. 4, for the seventh year, offering farmers a glimpse of agriculture’s future across Washington state as well as the Northwest.

Hosted at the Tulalip Resort and Conference Center, the nationally recognized conference continues the ongoing dialogue between what consumers want and how farms can grow to meet those needs.

“As farming in Snohomish County continues changing, we must remain ahead of the curve,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “This annual conference brings together the pieces that make agriculture successful and meaningful to consumers and producers.”

Since 2004, Reardon has brought together regional farmers, growers and retailers for a day of learning and networking while enjoying farm-fresh local products prepared by gourmet chefs. More than 500 people attended last year’s conference.

This year’s conference, with its “Get Up and Grow!” theme, begins with a panel discussion on organic and traditional growing methods and why they each can work.

From there, participants can choose from six different tracks offering dozens of workshop sessions that focus on emerging markets, consumer purchasing trends, conservation practices, healthy soils and more.

Highlighting this year’s keynote speakers list are Bob Treadway and Damian Mason.

Treadway is in his 25th year as a forecaster, strategy consultant and foresight advisor. He has worked with large organizations including Berkshire Hathaway, Syngenta, Farm Credit Services, the Federal Reserve and the National Corn Growers Association. His work has taken him to eight countries and 139 cities in the past two years. He will discuss how to anticipate consumer and retail developments while building robust food-related enterprises.

Mason is a comedian with an enthusiasm for the agriculture industry. He has a degree in agricultural economics and has studied comedy writing and improvisation at the prestigious Second City in Chicago. Mason combines his farm background and knowledge, with a brilliant sense of comedic timing, allowing him to connect with the heart of agriculture: its people.

“Since the beginning, we’ve tried to spotlight some of the best experts in the United States,” Reardon said. “This year is no different.”

As always, the day is filled with a gourmet lunch prepared by local chefs with locally grown and raised food. The evening will be topped off with a wine-and-cheese tasting featuring wineries and artisan cheese makers from Western Washington.

To register for the conference or to view a list of breakout sessions, go to www.focusonfarming.org. For questions, contact Linda Neunzig, the county’s agriculture project coordinator, at 425-388-7170 or linda.neunzig@snoco.org.

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