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May 23, 2018

5/15/2018 5:25:00 AM
Business Resource Fair On Tap For Farmers, Foresters
Bettina Ring

Bettina Ring

MONTEREY — The 2018 Business Resource Fair: Farmers and Foresters will be held on Wednesday, May 30, at the Highland Center.

The event will showcase business resources for farmers and loggers in Virginia’s Western Highlands and beyond.

The purpose of the half-day agenda is to get mentorship opportunities and business tools in the hands of both beginning farmers and established operations alike.

Josh Umar, Youth and Business Resource Coor-dinator, says the resource fair will be organized like a small conference and has already drawn the attention of policy makers.

“I’m excited to announce that Bettina Ring, the new Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the state of Virginia, will be our keynote speaker,” Umar said.

Secretary Ring was previously the State Forester of Virginia, and before that was senior vice president of family forests at the American Forest Foundation. While there, she oversaw the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in the country.

“She grew up in a rural area in the mountains of Craig County,” Umar noted. “So, she has a real passion for places like Highland and our surrounding communities.”

The genesis of the event lies in a long-time partnership that the Highland Center has with SCORE, a national nonprofit business assistance organization.

President Trump’s Sec-retary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, recently announced a new partnership between USDA and SCORE in hopes of helping agricultural businesses become more profitable and secure.

“We knew we wanted to tell the community about the USDA-SCORE initiative,” Umar said. “Right around that same time, the Center for Natural Capital approached us with some opportunities for loggers and those in related industries. We thought, ‘Why not put together event where we can get word out about all these resources at once?’”

The fair will start at the Highland Center at 10 a.m. and run until 3:30 p.m. on the 30th.

“We tried to schedule it so folks would be able to do their morning chores before driving over and still have time to get back for evening chores after we’re done,” said Umar.

In addition to Secretary Ring’s speech and an exhibitor’s hall, the agenda includes sessions on:

•Farm transitions and estate planning;

•The partnership bet-ween USDA and SCORE;

•Enterprise budgets for livestock farmers;

•Direct meat marketing;

•A panel discussion on resources for loggers, including grants and opportunities for access to national forest lands.

Other featured speakers include Tom Stanley from Virginia Cooperative Extension; Sonia Rustici and Ron Smallwood from Seidl Law; Sarah Sharpe from Virginia Cooperative Extension; Jim Martin from SCORE; Brian Becker from the Center for Natural Capital; and Michele Bridges from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The cost is $25 for an individual business owner; $40 for a couple, and $10 for students. Lunch is included.

“Anyone from the whole region — Highland, Bath, Augusta, Alleghany, and Pendleton and Pocahontas on the West Virginia side —is welcome to attend,” Umar said.

“We are also still looking for exhibitors, so if you would like to set up a booth to get your product or service in front of the eyes of some potential customers, please reach out,” Umar added.

The Highland Center is located at 61 Highland Center Drive, off Spruce Street in Monterey.

For further information and to purchase tickets, visit the Highland Center website at, or call 540-468-1922.

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