Organizer: Shutdown Could Hurt Biochar Conference

The federal government shutdown is potentially threatening the United States Biochar Initiative’s four-day conference starting this weekend at UMass Amherst.

Conference director, Karen Ribeiro, says twelve people scheduled to speak are employees of the United States Department of Agriculture who are on furlough because of the shutdown. Their research focuses on biochar, an organic soil enhancer. 

“It’s unfortunate because this research is really cutting edge and could help propel the industry. We’ll definitely have a loss there by not having the research presented,” Ribeiro says. 

Ribeiro says she’s trying to find a different way, such as video conference, to present the panelists’ research.

Congressman Jim McGovern is scheduled to give the keynote address on Sunday. McGovern’s office says that as long as there are no votes in the House that day, he plans to be there.  

This story reported and written by Brianda Reyes.