MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Biodiesel and bio-based fuels will be in the spotlight at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, with Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board, on tap to provide attendees with the latest information about alternative fuels.

The show will be March 4-5 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

Jobe, who is with the national trade organization representing the biodiesel industry as the coordinating body for research and development in the U.S., will speak at the show’s Ag Update session Saturday morning, March 5, at 8:30.

“There is a lot of interest in biodiesel and bio-based fuels,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the annual show attended by more than 15,000 people. “Biodiesel plants are under way or on the drawing board in the Mid-South and farmers will have a vital economic stake in the progress of this industry.”

The 53rd annual show, co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press, will not only give growers a firsthand look at new ag products and technologies, it will also offer the latest information on one of 2005’s hottest agricultural topics: soybean rust.

A special seminar on the disease, which blew in from Central America on last year’s Hurricane Ivan, will be conducted by Monte Miles, USDA Agricultural Research plant physiologist at the University of Illinois, the nation’s leading authority on the subject. He will lead a reaction panel, which will have participants ranging from growers and input providers through end users.”

The seminar will be held Saturday, March 5, at 1 p.m., and will be co-sponsored by a number of Mid-South organizations, including the Agricultural Council of Arkansas, the Delta Council, state soybean associations, state soybean promotion boards, and others.

USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs William Hawks will also speak, and members of the Mid-South congressional delegation are expected to be present for comments.

Hawks will speak at the Saturday morning Ag Update session.

“Since our event comes just before the start of the new season, this seminar will offer soybean growers an opportunity to get the latest information on this disease for use in making key crop management decisions,” Price says.

“While soybean rust is new to the U.S., researchers have been working on it for at least five years, and Dr. Miles has a wealth of information that can help growers to take a proactive stance in dealing with it.”

Ag Update sessions

Growers will have access to a broad range of additional information in the Ag Update sessions. Here’s the lineup:

Friday, March4 — Woods Eastland, president and chief executive officer of Staplcotn, the Greenwood, Miss., cotton marketing cooperative, and the 2005 chairman of the National Cotton Council, will discuss cotton sector issues.

Michael Hathorn, vice president and coordinator of economic analysis for Informa Economics, Memphis, will discuss the outlook for rice and wheat.

William Dunavant, chief executive officer of Dunavant Enterprises, will provide his annual cotton market outlook.

Saturday, March 5 — William Hawks, USDA; Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates, a widely known farm marketing advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report, who will present the outlook for soybeans and corn; and Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board, who will discuss the future of bio-based fuels.

“We feel the Ag Update programs and the soybean rust seminar will offer a forum for issues of key importance to farmers this year,” Price says.

Hundreds of exhibits

This year’s show, is shaping up to be another sellout for the 200,000 square foot convention center and the largest in the event’s history.

More than 450 exhibits are expected, Price says, running the gamut from the latest equipment, to seed, chemicals, and services. Exhibitors are from 40-plus states and two foreign countries.

“The show has become an early spring tradition for Mid-South farmers, ginners, and others involved in agriculture,” he says. “In addition to many exhibitors who are with us year-in and year-out, we have many who will be here for the first time, bringing a new array of products. And a lot of our every-year exhibitors are increasing their space, so it’s going to be a very diverse show spanning all the major Mid-South crops.

“While we’re proud of the cotton and ginning heritage of the show, it has evolved over the years into a stage for exhibitors representing all of our crops. We believe it is the premier indoor farm show in the South.”

Family fun

“Memphis is a fun place for the entire family to spend a weekend,” Price says, “and we hope everyone will mark their calendars and plan to come and be a part of this year’s big show.”

Coinciding with the show is the annual meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member associations from Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas-Missouri, and a number of ginner events are held during the week of the show.