Farmers are facing a unique set of challenges as they go into the new cropping season, and the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show will offer seminars and information sessions to help in formulating decisions.

“Perhaps never have farmers had so much at stake as they do this year,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and manager of the annual exposition to be held this Friday and Saturday, March 2-3 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

More than 400 exhibitors are signed up to fill the more than 200,000 square feet of the sold-out convention center. The show, which attracts more than 20,000 attendees, is sponsored by the ginner association and Delta Farm Press.

“The timing and dynamics of this year’s show couldn’t be better in giving growers the opportunity to get the latest information about the issues and concerns they face,” Price says, “as well providing the chance to see firsthand all the new equipment, technologies, and products that are available and talk with company representatives.”

Two special seminars are scheduled — one to give producers an insight into the currently hot biofuels market, which is expected to have a major impact on corn plantings this year, the other focusing on cotton marketing techniques.

Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and James K. Allwood, senior vice president and leader of Informa Economics Energy Services, will headline the seminar on the outlook, challenges and potential for energy from agriculture.

It will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3.

“Congressman Ross will discuss legislation he is sponsoring and the overall outlook for biofuels,” Price says, “and Mr. Allwood, whose firm provides comprehensive commodity consulting and risk management services in energy and renewable fuels, will discuss the market potential for biofuels.”

Representatives of state agencies, energy distribution companies, and farmers will also participate.

The seminar on cotton marketing strategies will be Friday, March 2, at 10:30 a.m., and will be conducted by Mike Stevens, Mandeville, La., cotton specialist for the commodity division of Swiss Financial Services.

“Mr. Stevens has been a cotton broker for nearly 40 years,” Price says, “and has a wealth of knowledge about marketing strategies that he will share with seminar participants.”

The annual Ag Update sessions, held Friday and Saturday mornings at 8:30, will focus on farm legislation, the outlook for rice and grains, the cotton market outlook, and grain marketing strategies.

Speakers for the Friday morning session will be the new chairman of the National Cotton Council, John Pucheu, who will discuss cotton issues and legislation; Riceland Foods Senior Vice President Carl Brothers, who will discuss the outlook for rice; and Allenberg Cotton Co. CEO Joe Nicosia, who will discuss the market outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

The Saturday morning session will be devoted solely to the market outlook for grains and marketing strategies, led by Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates.

Admission to the show and seminars is free, but registration is required for admittance to the exhibit areas.

In addition to the seminars and Ag Update sessions, the annual meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, to be held Thursday, March 1, at 1:30 p.m. at the Peabody Hotel, will feature discussions on cotton quality and cottonseed issues.

Speakers will include Van Murphy, president of the National Cotton Ginners Association; Vikki Martin, associate director of fiber quality for Cotton Incorporated; Dr. Tommy Valco, Agricultural Research Service director of Cotton Technology Transfer and Education; Dr. Richard Byler, research leader of USDA’s Cotton Ginning Research Laboratory at Stoneville, Miss.; and Nashville, Tenn. Attorney John W. Lewis, will discuss legal issues related to cottonseed.

Anyone interested in hearing these discussions is welcome to attend.

Further information on the show may be obtained at the association’s Web site: www.southerncottonginners.org.