The president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Bob Stallman, will address the opening session of the 10th annual National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference at Houston, Texas, Jan. 29-30.

Sponsored by Cotton Incorporated and the US Rice Producers Association, the event will be held at the Omni Houston Hotel Westside. The conference is a production of MidAmerica Farm Publications.

“We're pleased to have the leader of the nation's largest farm organization speak at our conference,” says John LaRose, chairman of the conference steering committee. “We look forward to getting his insight into the new political environment in Washington and the outlook for debate on the new farm bill.”

The keynote speaker for the noon luncheon will be Elsa A. Murano, vice-chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences and director, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University.

The conference is co-sponsored by the University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, University of Tennessee, Auburn University, Texas A&M University, USDA-NRCS in Washington D.C., and USDA-ARS centers in the southern states.

Corporate co-sponsors are Delta and Pine Land Co., Helena Chemical Co., Horizon Ag, and RiceTec. Ag-Media co-sponsors are Delta Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press.

Ways to increase agricultural production while lowering costs will be the focus of topics presented at the southern United States' leading agricultural production conference, LaRose says.

“This conference is unique with its 100-plus breakout sessions presented by 59 university and industry researchers and 43 full-time farmers from the southern States. “The farmers bring something to this conference that cannot be found at any other event in the U.S. The breakout sessions presented by growers will showcase the production systems used on their farms to profitably produce cotton, rice, corn, sorghum, and soybeans.

“These producers are innovators — some are even ahead of the researchers. Their techniques have been proven on large scale operations as well as small acreage fields. They have taken ideas that researchers have developed and added innovative ideas of their own, integrating them into successful money-making farming operations.”

All this expertise will be available to those who attend the conference. In addition to the breakout sessions, attendees can participate in one of the eight specially-focused roundtable sessions, where in-depth discussions by attendees wanting to talk about the same concerns will be addressed.

For those who have an interest in the latest precision agriculture technology and applications, attendees can take part in any or all of the breakout sessions on that topic, presented by leading researchers and producers.

“A must-attend event for honing production methods, this conference offers farmers ways to trim inputs while boosting yields,” LaRose says. “In recent years, farmers and their landlords have found that, beyond tillage, there are many other farming resources that can be conserved through a properly designed conservation systems program.

“The importance of conserving soil moisture and reducing fuel, labor, seed, chemical, and other input costs has been a key to economic survival for many producers. The main emphasis of the conference is reducing production costs and increasing yields in cotton, rice, corn, sorghum and soybeans through precision agriculture in its many forms.”

Another highlight of the conference, LaRose says, will be farm bill panelists who will discuss the outlook for 2007 legislation. Experts on the panel will be Pat O'Brien, economist, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C.; Craig Brown, vice-president of producer affairs, National Cotton Council, Memphis; and Louie Perry, vice-president of Cornerstone Government Affairs, Washington. Following these presentations, there will be discussion from the floor.

“This is expected to be a very lively and informative session,” LaRose says.

For further information on the conference or to register, visit the Web site at www.nctd.net, or telephone Robin Moll at 573/547-7212.