William T. “Bill” Hawks, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, is among government, agribusiness, and farm leaders who will speak at this year's Mid-South Farm & Gin Show. The event will be March 1-2 at Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Tenn.

Operator of one of the largest farming operations in north Mississippi before accepting the USDA post last year, Hawks also served five years in the state senate, leading committees with jurisdiction over agriculture and the environment.

“We're pleased that Bill Hawks will join us to update Mid-South growers as to what's going on with USDA programs in light of the new farm bill that's taking shape,” says Lee Todd, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and manager of the annual show.

“We hope everyone will come out to welcome Bill home and to hear the other speakers on the Friday and Saturday Ag Update programs.”

The complete speaker lineup for the sessions is:

Friday, March 1: Kenneth B. Hood, Mississippi producer and the new chairman of the National Cotton Council, who will give an update on Council programs and legislative efforts; Richard E. Bell, president and chief executive officer of Riceland Foods, who will give the outlook for rice, soybeans, and wheat; and William “Billy” Dunavant, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Dunavant Enterprises, who will present his annual cotton outlook.

Saturday, March 2: Roy Cantrell, recently named director of research for Cotton Incorporated, will discuss the producer-funded organization's cotton research programs, followed by USDA's William Hawks, and Bruce Scherr, president and chief executive officer of the Sparks Companies, who will discuss the outlook for agricultural commodities.

“We have an outstanding program that will provide growers helpful information in making plans for the 2002 cropping season.”

This year's show, which marks the 50th anniversary of the event that began in 1952, is co-sponsored by the ginner group and Delta Farm Press.

It is the largest indoor exhibit of agricultural products, equipment, and services in the Mid-South, and the largest cotton equipment trade show in the nation. Several thousand people attend the event each year.

“I doubt anyone at that first show in '52 had any idea it would evolve into the major event it is today,” Todd says. “It's a tribute to all the association leaders who've had a hand in guiding the show along, through good times and hard times; to all the hundreds of companies that have been faithful exhibitors over the years; and to Mid-South farmers and everyone connected with agriculture for helping to make our show one of the best in the nation.”

Mike Gonitzke, publisher of Delta Farm Press, said, “We're very pleased to have been associated with the show during a good part of its 50-year history, and we congratulate the Southern Cotton Ginners Association for this milestone achievement.”

Farm Press publishes the official program for the show, copies of which will be included in the Feb. 15 issue of Delta Farm Press and in the Alabama circulation of Southeast Farm Press.

“We're in the midst of a very exciting, challenging time for agriculture,” says Lee Todd, show manager, and executive vice president of the ginners association. “Farmers attending the show will have an opportunity to see firsthand the newest and latest products, as well as talking face-to-face with representatives of all the companies represented.

“Coming just before the new cropping season gets under way, the show gives Mid-South growers an opportunity to get the latest information about everything that's important to them as they prepare for 2002,” Todd says.