Gin Show to spotlight farm policy What better way to shake off the winter doldrums and get ready for spring and another farm year than planning to be in Memphis for the big Mid-South Farm & Gin Show March 2-3?

The 49th annual event, to be held at the downtown Cook Convention Center, is co-sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Delta Farm Press.

It's the largest indoor exhibit of agricultural products, equipment, and services in the Mid-South, and the largest cotton equipment trade show in the nation. Several thousand people attend the event each year.

Many issues, concerns "As a new administration takes over in Washington, and discussions begin on a new farm bill, there are many issues and concerns confronting agriculture," says Lee Todd, show manager, and executive vice president of the ginners association. "We're pleased to have two ag policy experts to speak to farmers attending the show: Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas, who has been a key player in agricultural legislation, and John Maguire, director of Washington programs for the National Cotton Council, will provide insight into what's shaping up in the legislative/policy arena."

Farmers attending the show will also have an opportunity to see firsthand the newest and latest products, as well as talking face-to-face with representatives of all the companies represented.

More than 400 exhibits are slated for this year's show.

Attendees will also get the latest information on the market outlook for cotton, soybeans, corn, and other crops from Memphis cotton merchant William Dunavant and Riceland Foods Chief Executive Officer Richard Bell. Rounding out the slate of speakers for the Friday and Saturday Ag Update programs will be Mississippi producer Kenneth Hood, who will discuss the economics and practicality of precision farming.

"Coming just before the new cropping season gets under way, the show gives Mid-South growers an opportunity to get the latest information about everything that's important to them as they prepare for the 2001 cropping season," Todd says.

Numerous exhibits Showgoers will find a convention center full of new equipment, as manufacturers continue improving and expanding their product lines.

Most major agri-chemical and seed companies will also be represented at the event, offering growers the latest information about their products.

The doors for the big show open at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and close at 5 p.m. Friday, 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

Member associations of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association are holding their annual meetings in conjunction with the Farm & Gin Show.

At the group's annual meeting Thursday, March 1, at 1:30 p.m. in the Venetian Room of the Peabody Hotel, Norma McDill, director of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's cotton program, will speak. Anyone interested in hearing her comments on the federal cotton program is invited to attend.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is urging farmers to insist that seed companies verify that the hybrids being sold have been tested for the presence of Cry9C, the StarLink Bt.

"It isn't a typical question growers ask when buying seed, but it's an extremely important one this season. USDA has said that no Cry9C corn would be sold of grown in 2001," notes Fred Yoder. The Plain City, Ohio farmer is chairman of the NCGA Corn Board's Biotechnology Working Group. "The message is simple: Verify before you buy.

"This information will be readily available from seed companies. In late December, USDA recommended that seed companies sample and test all hybrid seed lots and all seed parent lines for the presence of Cry9C. Any seed testing positive for Cry9C would be channeled into feed or non-food industrial use. USDA also recommended that the seed companies provide the verification information to customers when customers ask for it.

"Every corn grower needs to take reasonable precautions to avoid StarLink appearing in the 2001 crop. Insisting on the USDA-recommended seed testing plan is the first step in assuring the integrity of the 2001 harvest,: Yoder concludes.

For more information bout NCGA and biotechnology, visit the NCGA's Website at www.ncga.com.