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Peace Corps Fellows Workshop at WIU March 22 Focuses on Agriculture

March 20, 2002

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MACOMB, IL -- The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University will host the Peace Corps Fellows Spring Workshop Friday, March 22 in Stipes Hall 501 on the WIU campus.

The workshop, which is open free to the public, will be held from 1-5 p.m. This year's focus is “Agriculture and the Rural Economy.” Steven Deller, professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a community development specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, will serve as the event's keynote speaker. Deller’s presentation will address the following questions: What is happening to production agriculture in the Midwest? How does agriculture fit into the rest of the rural economy? Does federal farm policy provide for a sufficient rural development policy?

Warren County agricultural educator Carol Parrish will present the farmer’s perspective and address the environmental impacts of herbicides and pesticides along with the controversial topic of bio-engineered crops. Peace Corps Fellow Brad Walker of the American Farmland Trust (AFT) will discuss the Community Based Farmland Protection Project that AFT began in January. The program focuses on the improvement of the current farmland protection policies within three “collar” counties Boone, DeKalb and Kendall.

IIRA staff Chris Merritt and Mary Holmes will discuss the grassroots nature of New Generation Cooperatives (NGCs), the role NGCs play helping farmers reach up the "value chain" as commodities move from the farmer to the consumer and the role NGCs can play in revitalizing rural communities. The workshop will culminate with a panel discussion.

The Peace Corps Fellows Program at Western Illinois University is a unit of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, which seeks to improve the quality of life in rural areas by developing public-private partnerships with local agencies on community development projects in rural areas.

For more information about the Peace Corps Fellows Workshop or to register for Friday's workshop, contact Thom Anderson at 309-298-2682 or e-mail at

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing