Tuesday, August 10, 2010

FAMU to Host First National Goat Conference

Goat meat production is recognized as one of the fastest growing areas of the livestock industry in the United States today. Over the past 10 years, an increase in the diverse ethnic population has caused a greater demand for goat meat. The problem with meeting the demand for goat meat is largely due to the need for proper training to help producers acquire greater skill in utilizing innovative technology and research-based information necessary to operate a profitable farm of livestock enterprise.

Florida A&M University (FAMU), an 1890 land-grant institution, has accepted the challenge to provide solutions for goat producers by hosting a National Goat Conference to address critical issues related to the goat industry on September 12-15, 2010, at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee, Florida.

The first of its kind hosted by an educational institution, the inaugural National Goat Conference will provide a multi-faceted forum for goat producers, students, educators, researchers, industry professionals and organizations to come together and address key issues related to supporting and maintaining the rapid growing goat industry. The theme for the conference is “Strengthening the Goat Industry.” The keynote speaker during the four-day event will be David G. Pugh, DVM, veterinarian, and internationally recognized expert. Pugh is the author of a book entitled Sheep and Goat Medicine.

Approximately 600 participants from across the country are expected to attend this significant outreach activity. The conference will include a full spectrum of informative presentations designed to enhance the viability of the goat industry. Focus will be on topics such as nutrition and pasture management, herd health and management, marketing and processing, reproduction and biotechnology, genetics and breeding, food science and safety, and technology transfer. There will also be a session on sheep production and management.

Ray Mobley, D.V.M., conference co-chairperson and director of the FAMU Cooperative Extension Program, said, “We are proud to host this unique conference that focuses on a national agenda designed to promote both profitability to farmers and opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in animal science and veterinary medicine.”

Sponsors for the conference include the following: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program; Association of Extension Administrators (AEA); the University of Florida; Risk Management Agency/USDA and Farm Credit.

The FAMU Cooperative Extension Program is working closely with partnering agencies, institutions and organizations to include: Alabama A&M University, Alcorn State University, Auburn University, Delaware State University, the Florida Department of Agriculture (FDACS), the Florida Meat Goat Association, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University, the Meat Sheep Alliance of Florida, North Carolina A&T University, the Southeastern Small Farmers’ Network, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, the University of Florida and Virginia State University.

Graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in the conference by submitting abstracts and poster presentations related to broad STEM categories including: food science and safety; genetics and breeding; herd health management; marketing and processing; nutrition and pasture management; parasite control and innovations; reproduction and biotechnology; and sheep production and management. Exhibitors and vendors are also encouraged to register for this event.

Online registration is currently open at http://www.famu.edu/goats. Information about the conference including registration categories and fees, hotel accommodations and vendor information are available on the site. For specific details about the National Goat Conference, contact the following persons:

* Joy Dixon, conference coordinator, at (850) 875-8555 or by email at joy1.dixon@famu.edu;
* Angela McKenzie Jakes, conference co-chairperson/program leader, Small Ruminant Program at FAMU; (850) 875-8557 or by email at angela.mckenziejakes@famu.edu; or
* Ray Mobley, conference co-chairperson and associate administrator for Extension at FAMU, at (850 599-3546 or by email at ray.mobley@famu.edu.


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