Bio-based energy production, trade issues, the market outlook for cotton and grains, and key legislative issues will be among topics at this year's Mid-South Farm & Gin Show Feb. 27-28 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

The annual Ag Update sessions, to be held each morning at 8:30 in the convention center lobby auditorium, will feature the following speakers:

Friday — Woody Anderson, the new chairman of the National Cotton Council, will discuss issues affecting cotton in 2004. Richard Bell, president and chief executive officer of Riceland Foods, will present his market outlook for rice and grains, as well as issues affecting each crop. William “Billy” Dunavant, chief executive officer of Dunavant Enterprises, will give his annual analysis of the cotton market and issues confronting the industry.

Saturday — Bill Hawks, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, will give introductory remarks.

Dr. Gary Adams, vice president of economics and policy analysis for the National Cotton Council, will discuss key trade issues and cotton's future. Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, will discuss key issues related to bio-based energy production. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., who is a member of the House Agriculture and Energy and Commerce committees, will discuss key agriculture and energy issues facing Congress.

“These sessions will offer the latest outlook for commodities, discussion of current agricultural concerns, and a look at new opportunities and information critical to farmers and agribusinesses,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the annual show.

The event, which will have more than 400 exhibits, including equipment, crop chemicals, services, and other products, is the largest show of its kind in the South. It is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press.

“The Gin Show is an early spring tradition for thousands of Mid-South farmers, ginners, and others involved in agriculture,” Price says. “Those attending will be able to get the latest information as they get ready for the 2004 crop season. With the expansion of the convention center, we'll have more than 200,000 square feet of exhibit space.

“This year, we have an expanded number of farm equipment manufacturers, specialized services, the latest in seed varieties, and new technologies in precision farming.”

Exhibit areas will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the show is free.

The member associations of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association will be holding their annual meetings in conjunction with the show.

Speakers for the 1:30 p.m. annual meeting at the Peabody Hotel will include Mississippi farmer/ginner Kenneth Hood, who is chairman of InTime, Inc. He will discuss new precision agriculture technologies. Sid Brough, Edroy, Texas, president of the National Cotton Ginners Association will also speak.

Mid-South ginners completing the NCGA ginner certification program will be recognized, and awards will be presented to various gins for achievements in the SCGA safety program.

“We hope everyone in Mid-South agriculture has Feb. 27-28 circled on their calendars and that they'll come and join us for this great show,” Price says.