Find hands-on tech assistance at IFB Food Conference

The 3-day conference includes a produce safety class to satisfy FSMA training requirements.

By Kay Shipman

Hands-on technical assistance for growers and others in the local value chain will be a benefit of the Nov. 5-7 Illinois Farm Bureau Local-Regional Food Conference in Bloomington. Early registration ends Oct. 17.

“This conference is three days jam-packed with true technical assistance for anyone in the local value chain. Participants will walk away with things to better their farms and businesses,” said Raghela Scavuzzo, IFB local foods program manager.

This year, the conference expands from two to three days and starts with a full day of workshops and tours. General and breakout sessions will cover a range of topics with several networking events for attendees.

Returning this year, a class on produce safety will satisfy Food Safety Modernization Act training requirements. This class requires advance registration; however, the cost of a training manual and licensing fee are incorporated into the three-day conference registration at no additional cost, according to Scavuzzo.

Conference participants may attend sessions on direct marketing, available funding sources, building online brands and scaling up a business.

New this year will be “curbside consulting” at no additional cost, Scavuzzo said.

During days two and three, participants may register for one-on-one, 30-minute to one-hour appointments with different technical service experts. Fields of expertise offered include: financing, grant writing, technology, website development, branding, cooperative development, food hub development, feasibility studies, budgeting, business planning and more.  

Registration includes two networking breakfasts, a networking cocktail hour and snacks. An optional local farm dinner for an extra fee will be available Nov. 5.

For Farm Bureau members, registration fees are $125 until Oct. 17 and $150 from Oct. 18-31. Non-Farm Bureau members’ fees are $150 until Oct. 17 and $175 from Oct. 18-31. A limited number of registrations will be offered for $200 at the door.

Hotel accommodations must be arranged separately with the Double Tree Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington.

For more information or to register, visit