Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 15, 1999

Agriculture in new millennium topic of conference at U of G

Sustaining agriculture in the 21st century is the theme of an international conference being hosted by the University of Guelph Oct. 20 - 23. It is the first time the event has been held in Canada.

The fourth Biennial Conference of the North American chapter of the International Farming Systems Association (IFSA) will feature more than 70 presentations by international and Canadian experts. Presentations will address the environment, innovation and rural communities, with discussions ranging from government pesticide policies versus sustainable agriculture, to climate risks in farming systems, to new developments for medicinal plant species.

The event will be held at the College Inn in Guelph. More than 100 farm operators, researchers, policy makers and extension agents are expected to attend.

"We are encouraging participants to consider how features in the environment, human communities and the broader economic and technological realms can be incorporated in their agricultural operations," said Ellen Wall, a research associate from the Department of Plant Agriculture and a member of the conference committee.

Conference highlights include:

-- Wednesday, Oct. 21, a tour of local innovative farms.

-- Thursday, Oct. 2, 8:45 a.m., keynote address by Prof. Fred Buttel, University of Wisconsin: "Sustainable Agriculture: Avoiding Self-Fulfilling Marginality."

-- Thursday and Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., concurrent sessions, including farming systems and the environment, policy, soil and water management, international standards, rural communities, innovation, agribusiness, and marketing and developing new, alternative crops.

-- Friday, 8:30 - 10 a.m., seminar presentations by Bruce Archibald, Ontario assistant deputy minister, Energy, Science and Technology on innovations; Ron Bonnett, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, on the evolving nature of the rural community; and Jim Wheeler, assistant deputy minister, Agriculture and Rural Division of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, on farming systems and the environment.

-- Saturday, 9 a.m. - noon, workshop on the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan.

"This conference represents a challenge to think openly about these linkages with farming systems and the outside forces that affect them," said Prof. John Smithers, Department of Geography and chair of the conference committee. For more information on conference registration, contact Smithers at (519) 824-4120, ext. 8950, Ellen Wall (519) 824-4120, ext. 8480, or visit the Web site at To participate in the farm tour, contact Agri-Cultural Tours, (519) 745-1543.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3338

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