GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The region's farmers will be converging on Grand Forks on Feb. 20-21 for the annual International Crop Expo. Whether you are looking for the latest in crop production information, products or services it can be found at this year's 12th annual edition of the ICE.
The doors on the Alerus Center will open at 9 a.m. both days, according to Lionel Olson, Grand Forks County Extension Service agent and one of the show managers. Last year over 5,000 people attended the show.
"That figure has stayed pretty constant from year to year," Olson said, "even when the temperatures are well below zero or the conditions are a little blustery."
He attributes that attendance to the up-to-date production information that is presented in the educational seminars presented concurrently for small grains, soybeans/dry beans, and potatoes. In addition, the commercial exhibit space is chock full of the latest in farm equipment, crop production inputs and services. Again this year, there is a waiting list of exhibitors waiting to get into the show.
"We are fortunate that most of our vendors are return vendors, but we do have a few new exhibitors. We are also proud of the fact that we keep this show geared toward agriculture," Olson said. "All of the exhibitors are agricultural related and will focus on marketing, financing, chemicals, seed and major to short-line equipment. All of their products will help our growers in some way."
One of the most popular booths in the exhibit area is the Simplot potato booth where free samples of various deep fried potato products that company produces are given out to the public. Each year between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds of potato products are prepared during the two days of the show.
A unique aspect of this show is the fact that it's the only one in the region that devotes part of its program to the potato industry, both in terms of educational seminars and commercial exhibitors, Olson noted.
The ICE resulted from the merger of what were once three separate commodity events - the Potato Expo, Small Grains Institute and the Grand Forks Soybean and Bean Day. Each of these predecessor events had a strong educational aspect to their program and that emphasis has been carried forward to the ICE.
"We cover some of the most up-to-date topics at these seminars," Olson said. "Each of the commodity groups take into consideration the major challenges growers experienced in the previous year and tailor much of their seminar topics around those issues.
"A lot of our sessions will be geared toward the drought conditions that happened last year and how that could impact crops this year," he added.
There will be CEU credits available for CCAs needing additional credits. The complete seminar schedule and topics being covered appear in a separate article in this section.
A tradition of the ICE has been to bring in a keynote speaker each afternoon of the show, but that format will change slightly this year, with a keynote speaker on the first day and a marketing panel discussion on the second day of the show.
On Wednesday at 1 p.m. Ag Country Farm Credit Services of Grand Forks and will sponsor a presentation by Michele Payn-Knoper. Her presentation is titled "Celebrating AgricultureÉfrom the farm gate to the consumer plate." According to Payn-Knoper her presentation will help farmers understand how to lead through significant changes facing agriculture in the 21st Century and leave a legacy for their business.
Her lifelong passion for agriculture stems from childhood; she has been breeding and judging dairy cattle since the age of nine and now resides on a small central Indiana farm with her husband and daughter. She holds a degree in ag communications and animal science from Michigan State University. During her time as a regional director for the National FFA Foundation, she sold over $5 million in corporate sponsorships and led campaigns to develop community support for various Foundation expansions.
Thursday's presentation (Feb. 21) will feature a marketing panel discussion with four participants. Mike Krueger, president of The Money Farm, will discuss "What's behind all the market volatility?" The lender's side of the marketing experience will come from Al Nelson of AgCountry Farm Credit Services who will look at "Covering the breaking evens in 2013." The elevator's perspective will be highlighted by Paul Coppin from the Reynolds United Co-op as he discusses "Managing risk beyond the farm gate." Finally, Frayne Olson, NDSU Extension grain marketing specialist, will focus on "Coping with market information overload." The panel session will be moderated the Red River Farm Network's Mike Hergert.
"We are looking forward to another good show this year," Lionel Olson said, "and we hope to see a big crowd at the Alerus Center those two days."