MONTGOMERY — If you've ever been interested in learning more about growing organic grain or milk, a free opportunity Tuesday at the Gasthof Amish Village may be for you.

Registration for FarmStarts, a free seminar funded through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will begin at 9 a.m.

"Tuesday's seminar will be number 33 in a series of 36," said Director of National Farmers Grain Division Tim Ennis, who will serve as host of the day-long event that also includes lunch. "Three of the last four seminars will be in Indiana.We will have a similar event near Topeka, Indiana, at the Carriage House on Aug. 6 and 7."

Ennis said while the seminars, which have taken place in 12 states since 2016, feature a variety of sessions pertaining to organic grain and dairy production, actually have an organic operation is not a requirement for attending.

"This is a public invitation. You don't have to be in farming," he said. "Maybe you're just curious about learning more. Even if you just think you want to be involved, you're welcome to come."

FarmStarts seminars, Ennis said, typically attract participants from a roughly 100-mile radius. That's partially because those participants in business less than 10 years are typically eligible for a $200 farm and travel allowance through the USDA.

Sessions planned for Tuesday include organic certification basics with Angie Tunick from the Research and Education Organic Crop Improvement Association; dairy health and animal nutrition with Dr. Silvia Abel-Caines, an organic ruminant nutritionist and introduction to OFarm with John Bobbe from the Organic Farmers for Relationship Marketing all before lunch.

After lunch, sessions on financial management for organic farmers with Curtis Mahnken, ag economist from the University of Minnesota Center for Farm Financial Management; organic practices with Marvin Manges; marketing organic grains with Mike Schulist from NForgamics and organic crop insurance with Mike Kleaving from the National Farmers Crop Insurance will take place.

Those interesting in registering for the free program can call Ennis at 515-450-4123. More information on the FarmStarts program can be found at www.nfo.org/FarmStarts.

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