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National Farmers' Direct Marketing Conference Comes to the Southwest Jan. 28 to Feb. 2, 1997

ALBUQUERQUE -- Agricultural tours, business and marketing seminars, farmers' market festival planning and taste tests of Southwestern cuisine will all be on the agenda at the 1997 North American Farmers' Direct Marketing Conference Jan. 28 to Feb. 2 in Albuquerque.


About 1,000 conference attendees from across the country are expected to converge at the Albuquerque Hilton to learn new methods for marketing their agricultural products directly to consumers.

"We're really excited to be hosting the conference in New Mexico this year," said Gerald Chacon, northern district department head for New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "It's an excellent opportunity for regional farmers and ranchers to learn how to market their products and generate income from other sources."

The educational conference is being sponsored by NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service; New Mexico and Colorado farmers' marketing associations; agriculture departments from New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona; the Colorado Organic Producers' Association; the Farm Connection; Tri-Area Association for Economic Development; and the Santa Fe Area Farmers' Market.

The conference begins with a three-day tour of farm-related businesses and cultural sites in Mexico and central and southern New Mexico. Participants will get a first-hand look at successful direct marketing businesses including:

* Jackalope Pottery, Bernalillo -- a unique Latin American-inspired roadside operation offering Southwestern pottery, furniture, baskets, weavings, rugs and artwork.
* Pollo Real, Socorro -- Tracy and Tom Delahanty grow free-range poultry and organic produce for sale to restaurants on their diversified farm.
* Caballo Lake, Caballo -- on the Rio Grande River, this lake is an excellent site to discuss water issues in agriculture.
* Chile Express and the Flores Gift Shop, Hatch -- visit two roadside operations that grow and process their own chile into products for retail sale.
* Stahmann Farms, Inc., Las Cruces -- the largest pecan farm in the Western hemisphere, housing a processing facility, candy factory and retail store.
* Juarez, Mexico -- an international opportunity to visit two large vegetable, fruit, meat and textile markets.
* White Sands Ostrich Farm, Alamogordo -- this operation raises and markets ostrich to specialty stores.
* The Gift Shop and Frank's Fruit Stand, Ruidoso -- two roadside operations in a town with year-round tourists. The Gift Shop offers unique metal crafts, and Frank's Fruit Stand sells quality fruits, vegetables and locally processed food items.

Returning to Albuquerque, the conference will feature seminars on roadside stands, farmers' markets, agricultural tourism, ranching and hunting, marketing on the internet, marketing to restaurants, and business management. "There will be something for everyone at the conference," Chacon said. "Farmers, ranchers and anyone else in business for themselves can learn new marketing and sales techniques."

Other seminars will discuss roadside bakeries, traditional farming, marketing livestock, and culinary and medicinal herb production.

The conference's keynote speaker will be Lowell Catlett, futurist and professor of agricultural economics at NMSU. Catlett teaches and conducts research in marketing, policy, management and futures markets. He also serves as a consultant to private industry and national organizations including the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Interior, Defense and Labor.

Also speaking at the conference will be Allan Savory, founder and director of the Center for Holistic Management. Savory will discuss making decisions and introduce a decision-making model he created.

On the final day of the conference, attendees can either participate in workshops about haunted house management and making traditional Southwestern crafts, or tour farms, orchards and farm-based businesses in the Santa Fe, Velarde and Taos areas.

Points of interest on this second tour include:

* Trujillo Family Farms, Namb Pueblo -- a diversified operation of chile, beans and alfalfa. The farm provides a good example of school tours, farm stands, catering and retail sales.
* Velarde Farm, Velarde -- features award-winning peaches and apples. The farm also manages the "Rancho de Santa Fe" line of agricultural products sold at chain stores nationwide.
* Herman and Loretta Valdez, Velarde -- a nationally known roadside stand that sells apples and Southwestern wreaths.
* Taos Pueblo, Taos -- a chance to admire and purchase artwork and farm-related products from one of New Mexico's most scenic pueblo villages.

"We're anxious for the participants to see New Mexico's unique food products and tourism-related industries," Chacon said. "They've not seen direct marketing opportunities like the ones in this state before."

The early registration deadline is Dec. 15. For more information or a conference registration packet, contact the New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association, 430 West Manhattan, Santa Fe, NM 87501, or phone (505) 983-4010.