Come to the show! That’s the invitation extended to Delta agriculture as the 56th annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show is set for its two-day run Feb. 29-March 1.

The event, featuring more than 400 exhibits spread over more than 200,000 square feet of the downtown Memphis Cook Convention Center, will spotlight the newest technologies, inputs, products, and services, and will include seminars on energy, markets, and issues/legislation.

Sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor, it attracts more than 20,000 people each year and is the largest indoor farm show in the South, with exhibitors from 48 states and several foreign countries.

“As we move toward the spring planting season, this year’s show will offer Mid-South farmers a one-stop opportunity to assess the many factors influencing our changing and volatile agriculture,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the ginner association and show manager.

“We have a great forum for growers to meet and interact with representatives of hundreds of companies and experts in marketing and energy issues — a chance for them to find solutions to problems and to do a check-up of their own operations.”

Among the highlights of this year’s show will be:

• Displays featuring the long-awaited cotton harvesters with on-board module builders from JI Case and John Deere.

“These machines represent revolutionary technology,” Price says, “and after five years of excitement-building, we’ll have them both at our show for farmers to see up close and personal.”

• A special seminar Saturday, March 1, at 1 p.m., in the Steamboat Room of the convention center, “Energy: Changing Agriculture and Its Future.”

Speakers will be H.W. “Kip” Butts, Informa Economics senior analyst, and Tommy Foltz, president, Foltz Company.

“Energy costs have become as much a factor in cropping decisions as the price of a commodity,” Price says, “and it is critical that farmers have an understanding of this interrelationship.

“Our speakers have a wide-ranging expertise in all areas of energy, including biobased fuels, and how these trends will affect farming decisions, particularly as cellulosic ethanol production becomes more feasible.

“We hope everyone will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this informative seminar.”

• “Grain Marketing Outlook/Marketing Strategies,” a seminar by Richard Brock, president, Brock Associates, one of the nation’s leading analysts of agricultural markets and issues.

“Richard’s seminars always draw a full house,” Price says, “and with the current very strong demand for grains, his insights this year should be especially useful to growers.”

Brock’s seminar will be at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, March 1, in the convention center lobby meeting room.

In addition to Q&A opportunities during the seminar, Brock will have a booth at the show, where farmers may visit with him personally.

• Ag Update Sessions, Friday, Feb. 29, at 8:30 a.m., in the lobby meeting room, will include Larry McClendon, new National Cotton Council chairman, who will discuss industry issues and legislation; Carl Brothers, senior vice president, Riceland Foods, who will present the outlook for rice and wheat; and Joe Nicosia, chief executive officer, Allenberg Cotton Co., who will discuss the outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

• The annual meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation, Thursday, Feb. 28, at 1:30 p.m., in the Venetian Room of the Peabody Hotel, will have as its theme, “Cotton’s Future and the Ginning Sector — Where To From Here?”

Speakers will be Kather Hake, vice president of agricultural research for Cotton Incorporated, and Tommy Valco, cotton technology transfer and education, ARS/CRSREES.

Also on the program will be attorney John W. Lewis, Frost Brown Todd LLC, Nashville, who will discuss work on a model contract for cottonseed.

“All these seminars and meetings, plus the many avenues for interaction with the hundreds of show exhibitors, combine to offer growers and ginners an invaluable opportunity to assess the outlook and state of the industry going into the new year,” Price says.

Facilitating the telling of agriculture’s story and the 56-year history of the show’s influence on Mid-South farming, will be the media room operation that is sponsored by BASF.

“It’s important that consumers and the general public be made aware of all the good things that come from agriculture,” Price says, “and for more than 10 years now, BASF has helped to tell that story through their sponsorship of the show’s media room.”

Events associated with annual meeting of the ginner groups that make up the Southern Cotton Ginners Association include the annual honors banquet, which will honor Frogmore, La., ginner Randy Ainsworth as Ginner of the Year.

At the banquet, the SCGA Memorial Scholarship will be presented in honor of the late George B. Franklin, Rayville, La., farmer/ginner.

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