Cotton Links


All Roads Lead To Memphis
In February

By Tommy Horton

It is the South’s largest indoor agricultural trade show, but to long-time observers it’s much more. The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show is a farmer and family-friendly event that brings together nearly every sector of the U.S. cotton industry for two days.

The scene will be repeated again, Feb. 27-28, at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn., when up to 20,000 visitors are expected to attend the event.

Most observers anticipate an upbeat mood at the show, which has become an annual tradition in downtown Memphis. Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and manager of the show, says plenty of information is available for farmers and ginners to make informed decisions for 2009.

“This industry, like others, has gone through a lot in the last year,” he says. “And I’m starting to hear and sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m seeing more optimism about the cotton industry and better days ahead.”

Price says that was the mood of farmers and ginners he visited at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio in January. And he thinks there will be a continuation of positive attitudes in Memphis.

Numerous Attractions

The Gin Show will have its usual assortment of attractions, including the two-day trade show with more than 400 domestic and international exhibitors and an important lineup of speakers.

The popular Ag Update Seminars will be conducted on both Friday and Saturday. On Friday, scheduled speakers include: Joe Nicosia of Allenberg Cotton; Carl Brothers of Riceland Foods; and Jay Hardwick, incoming chairman of the National Cotton Council. On Saturday, Richard Brock will provide an analysis of commodity markets.

Price hopes that the Seminars can provide valuable information for farmers and ginners as they look to a new crop year. Conversely, he is encouraged that farm equipment, seed and crop protection companies continue to invest in the cotton industry.

“To me, when companies continue to make these kinds of investments, it bodes well for the future of cotton,” Price continues. “The industry has shown a lot of resiliency in dealing with the acreage shifts. But everyone is adjusting as we try to stay profitable.”

Global Scope Of Show

The global nature of the industry also is reflected in the increasing number of international exhibitors and attendees to the show. This year, for example, several Puerto Rican rice producers and Asian cotton interests will attend.

As for how producers will develop strategies for 2009, Price is convinced that many are looking at different crop and rotation mixes as a way of dealing with risk. Ultimately, he believes these same farmers will reap important economic and agronomic benefits.

“I don’t see cotton going away,” he says. “I just view it as a changing, highly informed and resilient industry that is continually trying to become even more efficient. It’s also ensuring its long-term sustainability.”

Contact Tommy Horton at thorton@onegrower.com or (901) 767-4020 by telephone.


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