One of the best things about trade shows, aside from the exercise it gives your feet and back and not counting the free shoe shines from folks hawking various leather restoration products, is the opportunity to visit with a lot of farmers, sales reps, Extension and research scientists and a smattering of students released from the bondage of classrooms for the day in exchange for a report on some aspect of agriculture.

Often, I spend much of my time in seminars and trekking around the show to see what's new. But, when possible, usually when my feet and back have stood about all the exercise they can tolerate, I like to sit in the Farm Press booth and greet the folk. I always learn something.

For instance, at the Texas Cotton Ginners Association trade show held recently in Lubbock, I picked up on some circulation issues that may benefit from a bit of clarification.

Folks who receive multiple copies of our publication asked how they could trim down to only one or two. We appreciate folks calling these multiple mailings to our attention. If we can eliminate duplicates, we save postage. But we don't want to cut out all your copies.

So, here's what you do. Clip the mailing labels off the copies you wish to eliminate and send them to our Clarksdale office (P.O. Box 1420, Clarksdale, Miss. 38614) with a note letting us know that these are extra copies. Someone there will take the necessary steps to remove the extra issues from our mailing list. You could send them to me, but I'd put the information on my desk, which is a dark hole of lost papers and likely would not see them again until the day before I retire or until my wife makes me clean up my office.

Another tip. About once a year, you'll receive an issue with a renewal notice attached. That notice asks that you sign your name and send the information back to us so we can keep you on our mailing list. Please do so. Otherwise, you might get bumped off our circulation, and we don't want that to happen. Remember, as a controlled circulation publication, we need your request to continue sending you Southwest Farm Press.

Those who filled out subscription forms at the trade show, be patient. It may take four weeks or so to get on the mailing list. If in a month you are not receiving an issue, call us.

Another thing, if the student who tried to track me down during the show still wants to learn something about agricultural journalism, please call me at the Denton, Texas, number listed in our masthead or email me at ron_smith@intertec.com. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have, unless you're really smart and seem like a threat to my career and then I'll recommend you go into banking.

I chatted with some custom cotton harvesters about potential for reduced acreage in 2001. They see little evidence that farmers will reduce plantings as much as recent reports indicate. We'll have a more in-depth look at their reasoning in a later article.

Texas Extension economist Carl Anderson dropped by and we talked about markets, farm financing woes and cotton production budgets. I never miss an opportunity to learn what I can from Dr. Anderson. He's the dean of cotton economists, in my book.

I got a good lead for a story from a young lady who works for the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District. And I picked up a number of good ideas for stories from a variety of industry folk.

Finally, I had an opportunity to talk with a half-dozen high school students who were enjoying a day out of the classroom and learning about agricultural technology. They told me they had to write a report about one of the booths they visited during the day. I suggested that they just clip out my column from the issue we had on display and turn it in. Most argued that they hoped to get a passing grade and preferred to write their own reports. I am constantly amazed at the integrity (and good sense) of our young people.


e-mai: ron_amirh@intertec.com