A chance to kick the tires of two hot new cotton pickers and seminars on marketing and energy are among the highlights of the 56th annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, to be held Feb. 29-March 1 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

“Our show offers growers an opportunity to get a handle on how the 2008 season is shaping up and to see firsthand a broad array of products and services that span more than 400 exhibits and over 200,000 square feet of floor space,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation and show manager.

The event, the largest indoor farm show in the South, is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press.

A top draw for this year’s event will be the new Case IH and John Deere cotton harvesters with on-board module builders.

“These machines represent the very latest technology,” Price says, “and we’re pleased to have them both at our show so farmers can see for themselves what all the talk has been about for the past five years.”

The broad impact of energy on agriculture will be the focus of a special seminar at the show, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in the convention center’s Steamboat Room.

“Energy: Changing Agriculture and Its Future” is the theme of the seminar, to include speakers representing the energy sector, agribusiness, government and other energy sectors have been invited to participate, Price says.

“Energy is changing everything,” says Price, “and this seminar will address issues and concerns and provide farmers crucial information on how to respond.”

Speakers for the special session include H.W. “Kip” Butts, senior analyst for Informa Economics and a member of the firm’s Energy Services, conducting analyses for energy products.

Also on the program will be Tommy Foltz, president of Foltz Company, a 15-year veteran of the alternative energy industry with experience at the U.S. Department of Energy; Clean Fuels Strategies; Blue Energy & Technologies Company; and the Texas Campaign for Clean Transportation.

“Our goal each year is to make the show a forum for spotlighting the changes and issues that confront the ag sector, so farmers will have the information and tools they need to survive in this dynamic arena,” says Price.

“We’ve enhanced our agricultural outlook sessions, which will include the major Mid-South crops, and marketing advisories for cash grain crops. We’ll also have a special session on the cost of energy and its continuing impact on cropping patterns.”

In the Friday Ag Update session at 8:30 a.m. in the convention center lobby meeting room, speakers will be Larry McClendon, chairman of the National Cotton Council, who will discuss cotton legislation and policy issues; Carl Brothers, senior vice-president at Riceland Foods, who will give the market outlook for rice and wheat; and Joe Nicosia, CEO for Allenberg Cotton Co., who will discuss the outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

For the 8:30 a.m. Ag Update session Saturday in the same room, Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates, will present his special marketing outlook seminar, including updates on agriculture and energy legislation.

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. 28, at 1:30 at the Peabody Hotel. The theme is, “Cotton’s Future and the Ginning Sector: Where Do We Go From Here?”

Speakers include Kater Hake, vice-president of agricultural research for Cotton Incorporated; Tommy Valco, USDA/ARS cotton technology transfer and education director, Stoneville, Miss.; and John W. Lewis, Nashville attorney who will discuss a proposed model contract for cottonseed.

Anyone interested in hearing the speakers is invited to attend.

For additional information on the show, please contact the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at 901//947-3104, or visit their Web site at www.southerncottonginners.org