Bio-based fuels continue to be a hot button topic in agriculture, given new impetus by the Bush Administration's emphasis on ethanol.

Two experts in the field will be a part of the Saturday, Feb. 28, Ag Update session at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The session is entitled “Growing Mid-South Agriculture: Critical Perspectives on Trade, New Uses, and Legislation.”

“We feel extremely fortunate to have Brian Jennings, executive vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol, and Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering, a member of the House Agriculture and Energy and Commerce committees, to speak at this meeting,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the annual show.

“There is a great deal of interest in bio-based fuels, and we believe these two very knowledgeable people will be able to provide our farmers with current information on the topic.”

Also on the Saturday morning program, which starts at 8:30 in the convention center lobby auditorium, is Gary Adams, vice president of economics and policy analysis for the National Cotton Council, who will discuss key trade issues and cotton's future.

This year's exhibition, Feb. 27-28, is shaping up to be the largest in it's 52-year history, says Price. “It's a complete sell-out, and we have a really outstanding lineup of exhibitors of equipment, products, and services.”

The completion of the expansion of the Memphis Cook Convention Center last year made available an additional 35,000 square feet of space, and the 2004 show will have over 200,000 square feet of exhibits.

“We've got a lot of new exhibitors and a lot of long-time exhibitors who've substantially increased the size of their displays.”

“We hope everyone is making plans to come to Memphis and take part in our big show.”

More than 400 exhibitors have signed up to be a part of the show, the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the South and the largest cotton equipment show in the nation.

It is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press, which also publishes the official show program.

“This will be a great opportunity for Mid-South growers to have some one-on-one time with representatives of these companies, and to get up-to-date information on markets, the outlook for Delta crops, and new developments in the cotton industry,” Price says.

Speakers for the Friday morning Ag Update session are Woody Anderson, the new chairman of the National Cotton Council, who will discuss issues confronting the industry in 2004; Riceland Foods Chief Executive Officer Richard Bell, who will give his forecast for rice and grain crops; and Memphis Cotton Merchant William Dunavant, who will present his outlook for cotton.

The Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member organizations will also be holding their annual meetings during the week of the show. They include the Arkansas-Missouri Cotton Ginners Association, the Mississippi Cotton Ginners Association, the Tennessee Cotton Ginners Association, and the Louisiana Cotton Ginners Association.

Most association meetings and events, including an honors reception/banquet, will be held at the historic Peabody Hotel.

The annual meeting of the association will be Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m. at the Peabody.

Delta Farm Press will publish the official program for the show, which will be distributed to all subscribers in the Feb. 13 issue and to the Alabama circulation in this issue of Southeast Farm Press. The program will also be available to all show attendees.