Another Mid-South Farm and Gin Show has come and gone, leaving some memorable moments for those who attended what has become the South's largest indoor farm show.
One of those came in the final “Gin Show” appearance by Billy Dunavant Jr., who is retiring as CEO of Dunavant Enterprises Inc. later this year. Dunavant has given the Gin Show's cotton outlook, often to standing-room-only crowds, for the last 26 years.
Before giving a slightly upbeat analysis of this year's prospects for cotton prices, Dunavant told the audience he wanted to tell them a story at the end of his speech.
The story, which can't be reprinted here, broke up the audience and made light of what could have been an emotional moment for Dunavant. (Gin Show officials asked Dunavant if he would come back again, and Dunavant, who says he's not completely retiring from DEI, said he would consider it.)
The second came during a speech by Joe Jobe, executive director of the National BioDiesel Board, and a resident of Jefferson City, Mo., who spoke on bio-based energy's potential during a Gin Show Update Session.
Obviously unaware of the strong feelings many cotton and rice farmers have for Iowa's senior senator, Jobe noted that Charles Grassley recently drove the first John Deere combine equipped with a B2 biodiesel-burning engine off the assembly line at Deere's Waterloo, Iowa, plant.
An audible murmur moved through the audience, and one person was overheard to say “I wish he had driven it off in the river.”
The third came during a special Asian soybean rust seminar that included presentations by USDA Agricultural Research Service, grain company, chemical manufacturing, United Soybean Board, university and Extension Service representatives.
Monte Miles, the Agricultural Research Service's top expert on Asian soybean rust, flashed a slide of a soybean field in Brazil that had been defoliated by soybean rust. A lady in the back of the audience gasped and said “Oh my God.”
Miles, who said he had spent most of the last month in Paraguay looking at soybean rust, thanked farmers for their contributions to soybean research and promotion funds that help pay his salary.
The final memorable moment was one that most Gin Show participants weren't aware of.
Richard Brock, president of Milwaukee-based Brock Associates, spoke on “Grain Market Outlook/Marketing Strategies” to a better-than-average crowd at the Saturday morning Ag Update session.
Brock later told a reporter that just moments before he went to the podium to speak he received an e-mail on his Blackberry hand-held communications device that informed him one of his best friends had died.
“I wasn't sure I could make it to the podium,” he said. “But I managed to get through the speech somehow. It helped that I knew 25 percent of the people in the audience and felt what I was saying was important to them.”