The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, celebrating the past, present, and future of area agriculture.
photograph by Fábio Salles | Dreamstime
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The Southern Cotton Ginners Association (SCGA) is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1967, which promotes the crop’s industry through education, science, civic engagement, and, of course, commercial and business endeavors. The SCGA is made up of the state cotton ginners associations from Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana. It’s headquartered in downtown Memphis.
Tim Price leads the organization. He became executive vice president in 2003. From Louisiana, Price has lived far and wide accumulating experience in the agriculture industry, including in New Orleans, Texas, and Chicago. Price is particularly versed in agricultural legislation, economics, international policy, and marketing. He previously served overseeing governmental affairs and commodities departments for the Illinois Farm Bureau, Indiana Farm Bureau, and American Farm Bureau Federation.
The tent-pole annual event of the SCGA is the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, cosponsored by the Delta Farm Press. A decades-old celebration, the show will celebrate its 62nd annual incarnation February 28 through March 1, 2014, at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show features hundreds of exhibitors showcasing the newest in technology to farmers and associated businesspeople and educational seminars led by experts from the cotton, rice, and grain industries. “These sessions go beyond the basic market outlook to provide marketing strategies and technology to help farms develop the skills they need to meet new and emerging challenges,” Price says.
Seminars at the 2013 show included an outlook for U.S. and world cotton by Joe Nicosia, head of cotton for Louis Dreyfus Commodities; an in-depth look at irrigation technology; and a discussion about how rice farmers can survive and prosper despite market volatility. About 20,000 people attend every year, and the average attendee farms 1,700 acres of cotton, soybeans, rice, corn, or wheat.
The changing nature of agriculture is reflected and, Price argues, enhanced by the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show. “How has an industry that’s so traditional maintained its vitality and its growth?” he asks. “The Mid-South Farm & Gin show does it; what it exhibits informs farmers what is happening in the industry. It is how you make sure the farmers are exposed to the latest in technology.”
Among the hundreds of exhibitors are titans of industry, such as Monsanto and DuPont; exporter/domestic suppliers with a huge Mid-South and international presence, such as Bunge North America; farm-equipment manufacturers such as The KBH Corporation; to scientific entrepreneurial outfits like AgXplore (fertilizer and micronutrients); and irrigation companies such as DuraPipe and Delta Irrigation.
“We engage companies that are diverse,” Price says. “They come to Memphis once a year to say, this is our linkage to the agriculture industry. They bring new products, services, and ideas they can exhibit at the show. Often, the show is the first time they want a product featured.
“Farms and others are ready for another year, and because the technology is changing so fast, they are interested in seeing what’s new at this year’s show,” he continues. “We’ll definitely have the latest available technology, so we are encouraging all to attend for a first look at what’s available to help produce and market their crops.”
The nature of the show lends itself to interactive engagement between the companies making products and equipment and the farmers who will use them. “There is an agribusiness component that’s phenomenal,” Price says. “Exhibitors listen to attendees and find out what is needed on the farm, then the company will come back to the show the next year with a solution for the problem. They listen to their customers. It’s a high-quality business show.”
In a sense, the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show is a microcosm of agriculture at large, encompassing the breadth and scope of the industry. “The show is a prism that looks at the links, direct and indirect, at all the things that make agriculture the size and complexity it is,” Price says. The show considers the importance of public policy in China on the Delta cotton grower, the changing traditions of family and corporate farming, the many technologies that lead to a more efficient farm and plant, and the food-service and other end uses of the product.