Today's dynamic and changing agriculture will be reflected in the more than 400 exhibits and informational sessions of this year's Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, to be held March 2-3 at Memphis.

“With the strong demand for our products domestically and globally, it's critical that farmers nowadays have a sense of where the industry is going,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the annual show, along with Delta Farm Press.

“One way to accomplish that is through a familiarity with the products and services that are available, as well as knowledge of the market forces, legislation, and other trends that are having an impact on a farmer's decisions.

“Under one roof, in four huge showrooms totaling more than 200,000 square feet, farmers can see firsthand what's new and talk face-to-face with a great cross-section of company representatives.”

This will be the 55th year for the show, which attracts some 20,000 people, and Price says, “We have more new exhibitors and new products than we've had in years.

“Throughout the industry, there's an emphasis on ways to increase efficiency, improve quality, and reduce costs of energy, labor, and other inputs. We're seeing a tremendous amount of innovation, from enhanced biotech seeds to harvesting and ginning.”

Farmers also are in a unique situation, Price notes, in that for the first time ever they are not just energy users, but energy producers.

“Because of this, growers are having to consider all the ramifications of acreage shifts, impact on livestock, and other issues relating to the use of crops as energy feedstock.”

To that end, a special seminar on the energy outlook and its challenges and potential for agriculture will be held Saturday, March 3, at 1 p.m.

Speakers will be 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.

“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.

Another special seminar, on cotton marketing strategies, will be Friday, March 2, at 10:30 a.m., 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 show's annual Ag Update sessions will feature a session at 8:30 Saturday devoted solely to the market outlook for grains and marketing strategies, led by Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates.

“This has been a standing room only seminar in years past,” Price says, “and we expect a similarly high level of interest for this year's session.”

Speakers for the Friday morning session, at 8:30, 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.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. There is no admission charge, but registration is required for admittance to the show.

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; Tommy Valco, Agricultural Research Service director of Cotton Technology Transfer and Education; 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.

Complete details may be found in the official show program, published by Delta Farm Press and included with the Feb. 16 issue.

“We hope everyone is planning to attend the best, most informative show we've ever had,” Price says. “It's a great forum for practical insight on what's happening in this dynamic industry.”