Rising production costs, stagnant prices, more regulations Rising production costs, stagnant prices and potential for new rules and regulations will be key issues for Southwestern farmers as they go into the 2001 planting season.

The third annual Southwest Crops Conference and Expo, scheduled Feb. 13 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, provides growers an opportunity to pick up the latest production and marketing tips, as well as updates on crop insurance and regulatory issues, just in time for final planting decisions.

"Farmers are facing another challenging year," says Mike Gonitzke, Publisher of Southwest Farm Press, one of the conference co-sponsors.

"This conference and expo provides them a timely opportunity to hear the latest in crop recommendations, market outlooks and regulatory issues. They'll also have time to visit the more than 40 agribusiness exhibitors who will be on hand displaying the latest in equipment, products and services."

Gonitzke says two previous conferences were extremely successful. "Based on comments we get from participants and exhibitors, the Conference and Expo provides a unique mid-winter opportunity to prepare for the coming crop-year," he says.

Much of the 2001 conference will focus on strategies to improve profit potential. A panel of farmers will discuss techniques to reduce production costs and improve natural resource management. Crop specialists will offer recommendations on crop options, practices to minimize expenses and pest management.

An Extension economist will provide details on the new Federal Crop Insurance program. John Maguire, Vice President of Washington Operations for the National Cotton Council, will give a Washington insider's perspective on expected changes in agricultural policy with a new administration.

Gonitzke attributes much of the success for the past two conferences to the cooperation of the co-sponsors.

In addition to Southwest Farm Press, sponsors include: Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Lubbock; College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University; The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station; the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service.

"The combined efforts of these sponsors make the conference work," he says.

Farmers and private pesticide applicators will receive continuing education units (CEUs and CCA credits).

Registration for the Conference and Expo is free. Lunch will be available for a nominal fee.

Conference registration begins at 8 a.m. and seminars begin promptly at 9 a.m. The Conference and Expo will close at 5 p.m.

All who pre-register by Feb. 9 will be eligible to win a Remington 1100 shotgun, which will be given away during the afternoon break. The winner must be present at the time of the drawing to be eligible. For more information, call 940-535-1484 or 662-624-8503.