Woods Eastland, the 2005 chairman of the National Cotton Council, and president and chief executive officer of Staple Cotton Cooperative Association and Staple Cotton Discount Corporation, will bring his unique perspective on cotton issues to the 2005 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show at Memphis.

He will speak at the Friday morning, March 4, Ag Update Session in the downstairs auditorium of the Cook Convention Center.

Staplcotn, located at Greenwood, Miss., was founded in 1921, and is America's oldest farmer owned cotton marketing cooperative. Eastland has served as its president since 1986. He will become 2005 chairman of the National Cotton Council at the organization's annual meeting in Washington later this month.

“We believe we have an outstanding lineup of speakers for this year's show, says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the show set for March 4-5. Co-sponsor for the event that attracts more than 15,000, is Delta Farm Press.

In addition to Eastland, USDA's under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, William Hawks, is among congressional, government, and industry leaders who will participate in the annual Ag Update sessions.

Hawks, a long-time Mississippi farmer, was appointed to the agriculture post in the first administration of the current President Bush and will update show attendees on government programs and the outlook for farm legislation.

Some members of the Mid-South congressional delegation are also expected to be present, Price says, and will be offered an opportunity to speak during the sessions.

The 53rd annual show will give growers a firsthand look at new ag products and technologies for the 2005 season, plus a special seminar on soybean rust.

“We're pleased to have Monte Miles, the nation's number one authority on the disease, conduct this seminar” says Price. The USDA Agricultural Research plant physiologist at the University of Illinois will lead a reaction panel that will include participants that range from growers and input providers through end users.

The soybean rust seminar will be Saturday, March 5, at 1 p.m., and will be co-sponsored by a number of Mid-South organizations, including the Agricultural Council of Arkansas, the Delta Council, state soybean associations, state soybean promotion boards, and others.

“While soybean rust is new to the U.S.,” Price says, “researchers have been working on it for at least five years, and Monte Miles has a wealth of information that can help growers to take a proactive stance in dealing with it.”

Here's the lineup for the speakers for this year's event:

Friday, Mar. 4 — Woods Eastland will discuss cotton sector issues.

J. Michael Hathorne, vice president and coordinator of economic analysis for Informa Economics, Memphis, will discuss the outlook for rice and wheat.

William Dunavant, chief executive officer of Dunavant Enterprises, will provide his annual cotton market outlook.

Saturday, Mar. 5 — Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates, a widely known farm marketing advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report, will present the outlook for soybeans and corn.

And to be announced, there will a speaker on the outlook for alternative bio-based energy, including biodiesel and ethanol.

“There is a lot of interest in alternative fuels from crops,” Price says. “Some ethanol plants are already operating in the Mid-South, and a number of projects for both biodiesel and ethanol are in progress.

“We feel the Ag Update programs and the soybean rust seminar will offer a forum for issues of key importance to farmers this year,” Price says.

This year's show, is shaping up to be another sellout for the 200,000 square foot convention center.

More than 450 exhibits are expected, Price says, running the gamut from the latest equipment, to seed, chemicals, and services.

“We have many new exhibitors, bringing a new array of products,” Price says, “and a lot of our every-year exhibitors are increasing their space, so it's going to be a very diverse show spanning all the major Mid-South crops.

“While we're proud of the cotton and ginning heritage of the show, it has evolved over the years into a stage for exhibitors representing all of our crops. We believe it is the premier indoor farm show in the South.”