It's just a week away — the big 2006 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, and the huge Memphis Cook Convention Center will be packed with more than 400 exhibits of the latest in farm products and services.

So, be sure March 3-4 is circled on your calendar and that you plan to join the thousands of other Mid-South farm families who make this weekend a yearly must-attend event.

The show, in its 54th year, is sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor, and will include exhibitors and visitors from 40 states and several foreign countries.

In addition to being able to get one-on-one time with representatives from major ag supplier companies, attendees will be offered a number of informational sessions on key issues that have an impact on their operations, says Tim Price, SCGA executive director and show manager.

“Energy costs are a major concern for every business, and growers will have an opportunity at our special energy seminar to hear several experts provide an overview of energy issues and insight into strategies farmers and agribusinesses can use to cope with these challenges.”

Headlining the session, to be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 4, will be USDA's senior advisor on energy policy, Ross Davidson. He advises and assists Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns in coordinating USDA programs to implement President Bush's comprehensive energy policy.

“Mr. Davidson has substantial knowledge and background on energy issues,” Price says, “and we hope everyone will plan to attend this seminar.”

Also on the program will be Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson; Ken Eriksen, vice president for transportation services for Informa Economics; and representatives of state agencies, energy distribution companies, and farmers. There will be an interactive discussion period for all attendees following the presentations.

Ag Update sessions

This year's Ag Update sessions, held Friday and Saturday mornings at 8:30, will include the outlook for cotton and other Mid-South crops, as well as a crops marketing seminar. The schedule is:

March 3 — Lloyd C. Day, administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, who will open the session; Allen Helms Jr., chairman, National Cotton Council, who will discuss legislative issues and council programs; Carl Brothers, senior vice president, Riceland Foods, who will discuss the outlook for rice; and Memphis cotton merchant William “Billy” Dunavant, who will give the outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

March 4 — Richard Brock, president, Brock Associates, a commodity marketing consulting firm providing price forecasting and strategies for sales and purchasing programs, will conduct a crops marketing seminar.

“We're fortunate to have these key agriculture policy and marketing leaders for these sessions,” Price says, “and we encourage everyone to make plans to attend.

The annual meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation, to be held at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, March 2, at the Peabody Hotel, will focus on future opportunities and challenges for cottonseed.

With fewer seed per pound from many of the newer cotton varieties and “a dismal cottonseed market,” gins are “increasingly struggling to cover the steadily-rising cost of their services to the farmer,” says John Swayze, Benton, Miss., farmer-ginner and president of the SCGA.

“It's a harsh reality that Mid-South gins are going to have to find a way to address this issue of declining revenues from cottonseed and the sharp increases in the costs of ginning.”

Speakers for the program include Thomas Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing for Cotton Incorporated; Dale Gustafson, senior grain analyst for Citigrou/Smith Barney; Bobby Greene, Servico Gin, Courtland, Ala.; and Russell Kuhnhenn, president of the National Cotton Ginners Association.

Admission is free, but registration is required to enter the show and attend the energy seminar. Registration may be done in advance at the SCGA Web site, www.southerncottonginners.org.