Don’t be surprised if you hear non-southern accents as you walk around the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, coming up March 3-4 at Memphis. The show is increasingly metamorphosing from a regional event to one with national and international overtones.

“As agriculture becomes more global, we’re having more and more companies with international connections,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which stages the show each year, along with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor.

“We’re expecting a number of visitors from China and the Far East, and others from European countries. With all the consolidation that has taken place in the agribusiness sector over the past 10 years, many of the companies that exhibit at the show are either owned by international companies or have relationships with overseas manufacturers and suppliers.”

This year’s show, which will fill the huge downtown Cook Convention Center, will have exhibitors from more than 40 states and three foreign countries.

An example Price cites is a homegrown business, based in small-town Arkansas, that now has manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Eastern Europe.

KD Sales, located in Sherrill, Ark. — “population 60,” laughs the company’s president, Kevin Derden — manufactures and sells parts for earthmoving equipment, and will be exhibiting its products at the show.

The earthmoving and equipment business his father and grandfather started in the 1960s led Derden to start his own parts supply business in 1987 while still in college.

“It just got bigger and bigger,” he says, “and we soon bought a factory in Mexico to make our parts.” The international steel crisis a few years ago led him in search of other manufacturing sources

“We looked at China and India, but through a fraternity brother I made contact with a guy in Latvia who had the manufacturing skills and facilities we needed — plus supplies of quality steel. We started building parts there last year. The cost is more than in China or India, but the quality and reliability more than offset the added cost.”

KD Sales will be exhibiting its products at the show, and its Latvian partner will be attending.

“It’s indicative of the importance of southern agriculture that we have participation by such a broad spectrum of national and international companies,” Price says. “Combined with the many fine ag businesses based in the Mid-South and across the Sunbelt, showgoers will have the opportunity to meet and interact with representatives from a huge roster of products and services.”

The Memphis event, which attracts an estimated 20,000 visitors, is the nation’s largest indoor farm show. In addition to the big show, several informational sessions will be held.

Energy seminar

Top government officials, energy company representatives, and farmers will offer unique perspectives on the current energy situation and its impact on agriculture at a special seminar to be held Saturday, March 4, at 1 p.m.

It will include an outlook and implications for energy costs, including pricing, transportation, and procurement of energy used in agriculture, including gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, and electricity. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentations. Speakers will include:

• Ross Davidson, senior advisor to the secretary of agriculture, USDA.

• Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, 8th District, Missouri.

• Ken Erickson, vice president, transportation service, Informa Economics.

• Representatives of state agencies, energy distribution companies, and farmers.

Ag Update sessions

The popular Ag Update sessions, focusing on markets, legislation, and other issues will be held Friday and Saturday mornings. (All Ag Update sessions will be held in the lobby auditorium of the convention center, with SCGA?President John Swayze presiding.) Here’s the lineup of speakers:

Friday, March 3, 8:30 a.m.

• Lloyd C. Day, administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, will open the session.

•Allen Helms Jr., chairman, National Cotton Council, will discuss council programs and issues.

• Carl Brothers, senior vice president, Riceland Foods, will discuss the outlook for rice.

• William B. Dunavant, chairman of the board, Dunavant Enterprises, will give the outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

Saturday, March 4, 8:30 a.m.

• Richard Brock, president, Brock Associates, will give the market outlook and strategies for marketing grain in 2006.

Show?hours

Doors for the big show will open at 9 a.m., Friday and?Saturday. The show will close at 5 p.m., Friday, and at 4:30 p.m., Saturday. Admission is free, but registration is required to enter the show and attend the energy seminar. Registration may be done online at www.southerncottonginners.org.