The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 might have solved a lot of problems for Mid-South cotton producers. But no doubt, it's created more than its share of questions, concerns and confusion, too.

Mid-South cotton producers have the opportunity to get up to speed on the farm bill, the conservation title, as well as picking up a wealth of management tips during the 2003 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, Jan. 6-10, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nashville.

On Tuesday morning, Jan. 7, speakers will discuss the issues that could very well decide your future. First up will be Kenneth Hood, Gunnison, Miss., cotton producer/ginner and chairman of the National Cotton Council. Hood will discuss how the U.S. cotton industry will address ever-evolving issues critical to the success of cotton production in the United States.

Has the conservation title got your head spinning a bit? You can hear what's in it for your farm directly from Bruce Knight, chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, also on Tuesday morning, Jan. 7.

These are trying times for cotton producers, a time that pushes a few growers to new levels of innovation and ingenuity. Hear what top growers are doing to cut costs, raise yields and become more profitable at the innovative grower panel, at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8.

While cotton prices are still low, they're far above last year's levels due to improved world fundamentals. You can find out how much higher they're headed, if indeed they are, during an update on the cotton market provided by Memphis cotton merchant William B. Dunavant, at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8.

What about that weed that keeps popping up on your farm? University of Tennessee weed scientist Bob Hayes will be on hand Tuesday morning for a discussion on new trends and practices in pest management.

You can browse www.cotton.org/beltwide for the latest information on the conferences. On-site registration is $150 for National Cotton Council and Cotton Foundation members, $75 for students with a valid I.D. and $300 for non-members.

Conference registration will be located in the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center beginning at 1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 6, through noon, Friday, Jan. 10.


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com.