Gin Show spotlights markets, policy Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry will join Memphis cotton merchant William Dunavant, Riceland Foods President Richard Bell, National Cotton Council Director of Legislative Affairs John Maguire, and Mississippi Producer Kenneth Hood as speakers for this year's Ag Update sessions at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show.

Bell, Maguire, and Dunavant will be on the Friday, March 2, program at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby meeting room of the Cook Convention Center, Memphis. Berry and Hood will speak Saturday morning, March 3, at 8:30 a.m. in the same room.

"With a new administration in Washington and a new farm bill debate due to crank up this year, we feel fortunate to have two keen participants in the legislative process on our program," says Lee Todd, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and manager of the annual show. "Rep. Berry and John Maguire have a lot of experience in the Washington political process, and they will be able to give Mid-South farmers an insight into what may be coming in terms of legislation, regulation, etc.

"In the crops marketing arena, Billy Dunavant for cotton and Dick Bell for grains, have a broad knowledge of the factors affecting U.S. and world markets, and growers are always interested in what they have to say."

Mississippi producer/ginner/businessman Kenneth Hood will round out the Ag Update sessions with a discussion on the realities and economics of precision farming.

"Kenneth is one of the nation's top producers and has been in the forefront of a lot of agricultural technology," Todd says. "His firsthand experience will give growers an insight into the advantages, problems, and costs of some of these technologies.

"There will be a lot of relevant, timely information in these Friday and Saturday sessions," Todd says, "and we hope everyone will make plans to attend."

Following the Ag Update sessions Friday and Saturday mornings, the big Mid-South Farm & Gin Show will open at 9 o'clock, with hundreds of exhibitors offering a wide array of equipment, chemicals, products, and services.

The exhibit is the largest indoor assembly of agricultural products and equipment in the Mid-South, and the largest cotton equipment trade show in the nation. Several thousand people attend the two-day event, which is sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Delta Farm Press. "It will be the biggest and best show ever," says show manager Lee Todd. "We've had a tremendous response from exhibitors, and every exhibit space is already booked."

The show will offer the latest technology, the newest equipment, and the most up-to-date information available to help farmers get ready for the new production season, he says.

At the association's membership meeting at the Peabody Hotel Thursday afternoon preceding the show, Norma McDill, deputy administrator for USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, will discuss the U.S. cotton program. Richard Bransford, president of the National Cotton Ginners Association, and Dr. Jerry Gilbert, Mississippi State University, will also speak.

The Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member organizations will be holding their annual meetings during the week.

Free shuttle bus service will operate between the Convention Center and the Peabody Hotel. Since parking can sometimes be tight in the Convention Center area, a suggested alternate is to use one of the several parking garages and lots near the Peabody and catch the shuttle from the hotel. Buses will leave frequently during show hours from the Union Avenue entrance to the Peabody. Or you can park in one of the lots near the Peabody and walk a couple of blocks to the trolley line.