As farmers enter another year of agricultural complexity, the 56th annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show will offer an opportunity for them to get a handle on how the 2008 season is shaping up by seeing firsthand a broad array of products and services and getting the latest information about markets, energy, and ag policy.

“Our goal each year is to make the show a forum for spotlighting the changes and issues that confront the ag sector, so farmers will have the information and tools they need to survive in this dynamic arena,” says Tim Price, manager of the show to be held Feb. 29-March 1 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Tenn.

The event, which will have more than 400 exhibits covering more than 200,000 square feet, is sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor.

“Meeting the challenges of tomorrow by taking advantages of the opportunities of today — that's the challenge facing farmers as they deal with all the changes in agriculture,” Price says.

“Our farmers showed in 2007 that they could adjust and adapt to changing market signals by adjusting their crop programs. They're finding that their role is changing from one that's purely agricultural commodities to one that includes energy from agriculture, and that they have to more closely examine their use of resources — with less emphasis on ‘convenience farming’ and more on dealing with the dynamics of the market and policy.

“There's a greater need than ever for decision makers to be well-armed with information that can help them to make choices that support the sustainability of their operations, and our show is a great place for them to meet some of the industry's most knowledgeable people and talk with them on a one-to-one basis.”

Exhibitors this year will represent more than 40 states and eight foreign countries, Price notes. “In addition to the exhibits, presentations in our information sessions will focus on key issues ranging from cotton quality to legal matters.

“We've enhanced our agricultural outlook sessions, which will include the major Mid-South crops, and marketing advisories for cash grain crops. We'll also have a special session on the cost of energy and its continuing impact on cropping patterns.”

The member organizations of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association will be meeting prior to the show, with several key issues to be spotlighted at their general session Thursday, Feb. 28, at 1:30 at the Peabody Hotel. The theme is, “Cotton's Future and the Ginning Sector: Where Do We Go From Here?”

Speakers include Kater Hake, vice president of agricultural research for Cotton Incorporated; Tommy Valco, USDA/ARS cotton technology transfer and education director, Stoneville, Miss.; and John W. Lewis, Nashville attorney, who will discuss a proposed model contract for cottonseed.

In the Friday Ag Update session at 8:30 a.m. at the convention center, speakers will be Larry McClendon, chairman of the National Cotton Council, who will discuss cotton legislation and policy issues; Carl Brothers, senior vice president at Riceland Foods, who will give the market outlook for rice and wheat; and Joe Nicosia, CEO for Allenberg Cotton Co., who will discuss the outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

For the 8:30 a.m. Ag Update session Saturday at the convention center, Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates, will present his special marketing outlook seminar, including updates on agriculture and energy legislation.

At 1 p.m., Saturday, also at the convention center, special seminar on energy costs will be held. “Energy is a topic that is at the forefront of any farm plan nowadays,” Price says, “and everyone should attend this informative seminar.”

For additional information on the show, contact the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at (901) 947-3104, or visit its Web site at www.southerncottonginners.org.