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Annual conference caters to many interests

The Upper Midwest harvest is wrapping up, a sure sign that the Prairie Grains conference is nearing. The annual conference, considered by some to kick off the area's winter agricultural meeting season, is set for Dec. 10 and 11 at the Alerus Cent...

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The Upper Midwest harvest is wrapping up, a sure sign that the Prairie Grains conference is nearing.

The annual conference, considered by some to kick off the area's winter agricultural meeting season, is set for Dec. 10 and 11 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. More than 700 people and 50 exhibitors usually attend.

"We'd like to see as many people there as possible. We think there's a lot on the agenda," says Doyle Lentz, chairman of the North Dakota Barley Council, one of eight groups involved in the conference, which crosses state and commodity lines.

The other groups are the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, Minnesota Barley Council, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Northland Community & Technical College, Minnesota Farm Bureau and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

The conference begins with grower and industry meetings on Dec. 10.

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Also on Dec. 10: Three sessions on water quality in the Red River Valley will be of interest to many agriculturalists who live in or near it. The sessions, which run from 1 to 3 p.m., will feature Jim Ziegler, section manager for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Mitchell Timmerman, nutrient management specialist with Manitoba Agriculture; and Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center.

Activities on Dec. 11 begin at 7 a.m., with research reports aimed at wheat and soybean growers. Other highlights include:

• 9:30 a.m.: Weather expert Leon Osborne gives his outlook for weather conditions and patterns that will affect the 2015 growing season. Osborne is a regular speaker at the conference, and his annual presentations are popular.

• 10 a.m.: Richard McGuire, president of EKN Railway Co., will speak on the future of Northern Plains transportation costs, availability and tonnage. Minneapolis-based EKN Railway serves railroads and the companies that use them, offering a range of services.

• 11:10 a.m.: a number of breakout sessions will be held. They include drone flight demonstrations, precision ag, changes in Minnesota farm truck laws and 2015 crop budgets and marketing. The drone demonstration will be repeated in the • 1:30 p.m.: Ankush Bhandari and Andy Knutson will speak on the world economic and grain market outlook. Bhandari is vice president of economic research for The Gavilon Group. Knutson is grains merchandiser for Gavilon Grain.

• 2:15 p.m.: Moe Russell will speak on managing risk in a volatile environment. He's with Russell Consulting Group, which provides risk discovery, planning and analysis to producers.

The conference is free to anyone who belongs to one of the partner organizations. A $25 fee will be charged for people who aren't members of one of the organizations; the fee can be paid at the door, but preregistration is preferred.

For more information, visit www.smallgrains.org .

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