2021 Conference Program

AUGUST 8-10, 2021

San Marcos, Texas

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The Small Family Farmers & Food Systems Conference kicks off with half-day and full-day pre-conference workshops on Sunday, Aug. 8. Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 9-10, are packed with dozens of opportunities to learn and to enhance your local foods business. Both days offer six concurrent tracks, ensuring that, no matter your interest, you’ll find plenty of topics that fit your needs.

(Please scroll down for pre-Conference workshop descriptions.)

Monday – Tuesday Regular Conference Sessions
Approx. 8:30-5 p.m. (Lunch will be provided at no extra cost)

Keynote with sustainable farmer & owner of White Oak Pastures, Will Harris

This is a sample of just some of the topics to be covered (check back soon for a more complete schedule):

  • Livestock nutrition
  • Sustainability in dairy management
  • Orchard fruit production
  • Pasture biodiversity and forage value
  • Power dynamics & systemic injustice in our food system
  • Grant and cost-share programs for producers
  • Goat & sheep management
  • Congress & Texas legislative session updates
  • Pastured poultry
  • Best farm animal breeds for heat tolerance
  • Selling to a wholesale distributor
  • Equipment for small acreage crop growing
  • Hydroponic/aquaponic systems
  • Soil health
  • The issues with industry consolidation
  • Indigenous food systems
  • School garden & youth programs
  • Animal shelters – from low-tech to high-tech
  • Upping your marketing game
  • Software tools for farm business management

And MUCH more.


Sunday Pre-Conference Workshops

Approx. 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. & 1-5  p.m. (Lunch will be provided for full-day attendees)

1. Why Farms Fail: Planning for a Resilient Family Farm (Full-Day)

The morning will cover whole enterprise planning and goal setting, and the interface between the farm and home. That includes the impact of family dynamics as well as planning for a variety of crises, whether they be weather- or market-related. We’ll also touch on resilience “backups” through USDA programs, from crop insurance to disaster relief.

The afternoon offers three alternatives for attendees:

    • Roundtable session with FARFA and other organizations involved in the disaster relief efforts, to discuss how to better coordinate and support our community in future disasters.
    • Individual consultations (15-20 minutes, one-on-one meetings with farm crisis experts).
    • Attend one of the other afternoon sessions (Small Farm Marketing or Starting a Successful Co-Op).

2. Designing Food Safety Into the Farm (Morning/Half-Day)

This half-day workshop will present ways you can set up your wash-and-pack area for optimal flow and produce safety as well as offer tips and best practices for worker training and management in the wash-and-pack space. We’ll also touch on any recordkeeping necessary for the process. All of the topics discussed in the workshop will focus on produce safety within the FSMA produce safety rules.

3. Small Farm Marketing Strategies & Tools (Afternoon/Half-Day)

This workshop will help new and beginning farmers determine which marketing strategies will work best for their farm and will provide seasoned farmers with new information about local food marketing strategies. You’ll hear from a panel of Texas farmers and ranchers about the benefits, drawbacks, and their personal experiences with several local food marketing strategies: community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, farmers markets, and wholesaling, to name a few.

In the second half of the workshop, you’ll learn about online marketing platforms and how this rapidly expanding technology can help farmers connect to the thousands of consumers who now shop for their food online. There will be plenty of time for Q&A, so bring your questions!

4. Starting & Running a Successful Co-Op (Afternoon/Half-Day)

Co-Op development experts and co-op founders from across Texas will explore the many ways that cooperation can build strong, resilient farmer and rancher networks as well as a committed, reliable customer base. Topics include:

    • Reducing expenses and increasing market access.
    • Start-up basics.
    • Co-op business planning and design.
    • Worker cooperative farms and cooperative land trusts.
    • Legal and tax considerations.