Southern farmers are entering 2009 confronted with perhaps the most unique set of challenges in recent years as they make cropping decisions, says Tim Price.

And he notes, the 57th Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, scheduled for Feb.27-28 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, offers an excellent arena for meeting with fellow farmers, providers of inputs and services, and marketing/legislative experts for one-on-one exchanges that can provide insight into the complexities of the new season.

“Agriculture has compressed years of change into the last two or three seasons,” says Price, executive vice-president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and manager of the annual event that attracts more than 20,000 people. It is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press.

“Last year at this time, most farmers had looked at markets and pretty well decided what they were going to plant. It's my impression that things are different now — there's a lot of indecision and searching for information about input costs, markets volatility, and other factors that will help them determine choices and formulate their marketing plans for 2009.”

The “Gin Show,” as it is more familiarly known, will feature more than 400 exhibits, with key industry representatives on hand to discuss the latest developments in chemical, seed, equipment, technology, and services.

“In the kind of year farmers are facing,” Price says, “trade shows have an extra-special value in providing a forum for decision-making and feedback, not only from industry professionals but from farmer peers. With more than 200,000 square feet of exhibit area and ample space for meetings and discussion, our show is a two-day ‘supermarket’ of important information for Mid-South growers.”

And Price notes, because of the troubled U.S. economy, vendors “understand they're in a buyer's market, and that they need to offer value to farmers in order to help them maintain profitability.

“Our exhibitors come from almost every state, Canada, and several foreign countries, and many say they come only to our show because of the high quality of the growers who attend.”

In addition to the exhibits, presentations in the various information sessions will focus on key issues ranging from cotton quality to legal matters.

“We've enhanced our Ag Update outlook sessions for major Mid-South crops Friday at 8:30 a.m., and Richard Brock, one of the nation's foremost analysts for grains, will present his extremely popular marketing seminar Saturday morning at 8:30, offering the latest insight into what's shaping up for 2009 and beyond.”

The member organizations of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association will be meeting prior to the show, with several key issues to be spotlighted at their general session Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 at the Peabody Hotel.

Hours for the show are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admittance is free, but registration is required to enter exhibit halls.

For additional information, contact the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at 901//947-3104, or www.southerncottonginners.org.