Commodity Classic Continues Growth


   The 20th annual Commodity Classic, held in New Orleans, set records in both attendance and scale. 
   “We had a great show in New Orleans, with terrific weather and a fantastic location,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Wesley Spurlock. “As it was the first time in that venue, and with a new affiliate – the Association of Equipment Manufacturers – we were expecting a great event and got what we expected. A lot of smiling faces and growers who left town more informed, engaged and energized as we head into planting season.”
   Total attendance was 9,770, compared to 7,936 in 2015. Another record set was in the number of growers attending, at 4,596.  Additionally, the trade show featured an all-time high of 433 participating companies, including 128 first-time exhibitors. These exhibitors filled a record 253,300 net square feet of booth space, 49 percent more space than 2015’s trade show in Phoenix, Arizona.
   On the trade show floor, equipment manufacturers heavily promoted precision farming technologies, which they believe will allow producers to farm more efficiently in these times of near-record low farm incomes. Seed and chemical companies all rolled out new varieties and chemistries while touting their efforts to help sustain the environment through better stewardship of technologies.
   “The 2016 Trade Show was definitely a highlight for many growers, with one-and-a-half times the space as last year,” Commodity Classic Co-Chair Sam Butler said. “The strong presence of new exhibitors, especially when it comes to farm equipment, combined with the new AG CONNECT Main Stage and longer hours for growers, made it a key destination for Commodity Classic.”
   Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was keynote speaker at this year’s Commodity Classic, marking his seventh consecutive visit to the Classic. The Secretary spoke at length about his faith and confidence in American farmers and U.S. agriculture in general. “We are the greatest nation on earth, for one simple reason in my view – because we have the greatest farmers!” Vilsack said. 
   “It’s farmers who are at the heart and soul of the value system of this country,” he continued. “It’s farmers who instill in their young people to give something back to this country through military service, back to the community through volunteering. It is farmers who are the lynchpin, the heart and soul of this great country.
   “Folks may walk out and talk to the country about how difficult things are, about how challenging things are, how bad things are; they ought to be in my job. They ought to be in my job working with the people I work with at USDA, and they ought to be in my job working with the people I work with in rural America. Because if they were, if they saw what I saw, every single day, they would never be pessimistic about the future of this country. They would always be optimistic. They would never, ever give up on the future of this country. ”We are strong; we are stable; we are secure. We are the greatest nation on earth, for one simple reason in my view – because we have the greatest farmers.”
   Next year’s Commodity Classic will take place March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas. ∆
   TERRY SIMMONS: Writer for AgWatch Network

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