Retrospective: The 47th Farm Science Review

Variable weather is territory for those in the ag industry, but a little rain didn’t threaten the turnout at the Farm Science Review (FSR) this week. Rain or shine, you can depend on a farmer.

In fact, the annual event welcomed nearly 139,000 visitors, 8,000 more visitors than during the previous year.

For three days, visitors checked out exhibitions, bought equipment and witnessed the most recent technology on the market to expand their agricultural know-how.

The 80-acre exhibiting lot at the Molly Caren Agricultural Career Center in London, Ohio, was filled to capacity, housing 600 displays.

“Exhibitors are thrilled to be here. They love the grounds and are making contacts with the visitors," said FSR manager Chuck Gamble, during the event.

Despite the difficult economy, many farmers use the event as a one-stop shop for equipment and supply purchasing, specifically waiting to buy vital business items at FSR.

“A lot of farmers are purchasing on site, “ said Candace Pollock, FSR media coordinator. “It’s indicative of the positive atmosphere of the agriculture industry right now.”

Industry members also used the event as a networking opportunity.

"Exhibitors have been very pleased with the business contacts they've made with farmers," said Matt Sullivan, FSR assistant manager.

Event coordinators heavily utilized social media throughout the festival, continually offering status updates and informing Web users about upcoming shows and demos via Twitter, facebook and Flickr.

From health screenings, to wildflower identification analysis, to grain-bin rescue demonstrations, FSR delivered again in the interactive department. One visitor compared FSR’s assortment of activities as similar to a “carnival atmosphere.”

Many young people turned out for the region’s largest farm festival: as many as 1,700 high school and home-school students visited the first day alone, according to event coordinators, which is more than 2008’s three-day total. Pollock said event staffers had difficulty keeping educational brochures stocked in several locations.

The urgency of the passage of State Issue 2 was on full display with yard signs strategically placed at almost every booth. Even young activists that can’t even vote were urging attendees to vote for State Issue 2.

More than 30 media outlets attended to cover the event, including Brownfield Ag Network, Ohio Farmer and Successful Farming magazines; Cincinnati Public Radio, ABN and WOSU radio; Ag Day and U.S. Farm Report; and multiple daily newspapers to name a few. In the coming days, it will be interesting to read and listen to the reviews.

If you attended, what did you think about FSR? What would you have liked to see more/less of?

Rural Tour: Renewing America’s Promise

Concerts, comedians and a variety of shows regularly travel the nation to educate and entertain. Most recently, the president’s Rural Tour has been making pit stops throughout the U.S. to elicit feedback about and support for government involvement in programs to better rural America.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is spearheading the awareness initiative that began June 30. The tour, designed to facilitate conversation via a blend of education outreach and community forum feedback, is part of the Obama Administration’s plan to “renew America’s promise.”

According to the USDA, “The variety of topics that will be addressed reflects the array of issues facing rural America, including broad-based rural health, economic development, infrastructure, education, energy, natural resources and agriculture.”

At each stop, Vilsack, alongside local elected officials, discusses how the USDA and other federal agencies are working to strengthen rural America by means of current and proposed government programs. Attendees then have an opportunity to voice opinions, suggestions and concerns in efforts to promote a dialogue between government and constituents.

“Government does not have all the answers, but it can help share innovative ideas and problem-solving techniques from communities with the rest of the country,” Vilsack said. “Building a foundation for success and prosperity for the new 21st-century economy will take a collective and collaborative effort with all of us talking, debating and solving together.”

Vilsack encourages citizens to “call, e-mail, write, videotape, photograph, you name it,” to offer input about the state of rural America.

Highlighted agricultural topics include rural broadband access, climate-change legislation and forest management, with emphasis on localized concerns.

Discussions involved ag-debt restructuring in Iowa, obstacles facing the dairy industry in California, carbon sequestration in Virginia and creating business-relationship opportunities among food industry entities in Ohio.

Scottsbluff, Neb., will welcome the tour this week to discuss production agriculture, and Las Cruces, N.M., will conclude the nine-stop circuit with a discussion aimed at rural infrastructure.

You can get more information and updates about the Rural Tour at or at Twitter or Facebook.

A summary of the tour can be viewed in a YouTube video created by the USDA.

Is the Rural Tour a success? Should other states/topics have been included for discussion? Can members of the agricultural industry model a similar tour for industry-specific topics in the future?

Farm Science Review Preview

Three days, hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of reasons.

For 47 years, Ohio has been home to the Farm Science Review, the Midwest’s three-day agriculture festival sponsored by Ohio State University, showcasing the latest and greatest in the industry.

The show, located at Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio, provides access to industry trends and developments, which enhance the market competitiveness and consequently, the quality of life of farm-related individuals, families, businesses and communities.

“If your business is agriculture, our business is you,” is the show’s tagline, which has secured more than 4,000 product lines from more than 600 commercial exhibitors for display. In addition to exhibits, presentations and demonstrations will occur throughout the event that encompass a variety of industry themes such as technology, equipment, field demonstrations, agriculture law, production and management research and farm financial management.

"Nearly whatever service or product a farmer needs can be found at Farm Science Review," says Farm Science Review manager Chuck Gamble.

The event goes beyond farming to also feature arts and crafts, as well as booths about gardening, health safety, home improvement and landowner conservation.

Highlights include:
• Energy education tent
• National AgrAbility Project Booth: assists those with disabilities who are employed in agriculture
• Animal welfare education exhibits
• GPS field demos
• Farm pesticide collection

The complete show schedule can be viewed at

Individuals do not need to be associated with the farming community to enjoy the show’s offerings. Educational and entertainment opportunities abound for agri-business persons and consumers alike.

The exhibit has leveraged social media to market itself using Facebook, You Tube and Twitter, and promises to attract hundreds of thousands of people. One hundred thirty thousand visitors are forecast to attend.

Tickets cost $8 at the gate. Children ages 5 and under will be admitted free of charge.

Cap-and-Trade Reforms – Climate Change Cure?

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack advocates the passage of proposed cap-and-trade legislation with Congress to combat the divisive issue of climate change.

Climate change, or global warming, refers to the variation of modern climate patterns and is said to be the result of natural geographic forces and human outputs on the environment. Such human outputs include land use, deforestation, animal agriculture and carbon discharges.

Vilsack is confident in the reality of global warming and has referenced fisheries in Alaska and forestry in Colorado as examples of its destructive effects.

The Obama administration is promoting the establishment of a revised domestic cap-and-trade system aimed to reduce energy emissions. Vilsack testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture in March, outlining the administration’s goals to decrease emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Legislation details can be located at

USDA believes that the agriculture and forestry sectors hold the potential to deliver substantial emissions reductions, including carbon sequestration, under a national climate change policy,” said Vilsack.

Many farmers oppose the legislation because they either don’t believe in global warming or consider the cap-and-trade system to be a financial burden, or both. Vilsack is aware of the apprehension many in the industry are experiencing, but is confident that the potential reforms “will likely outweigh the costs” and will actually bolster the national farm community.

"Over the long haul, it is potentially tens of billions of dollars of net income opportunity for farmers," Vilsack said.

Some agriculturalists are leery of prospective increased energy costs and increased input (fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals) costs. Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston has publicly declared his opposition.

“Agriculture is inherently an energy-intensive industry and this bill does nothing to mitigate that fact. From tractor fuel to fertilizer to livestock feed, farmers across America are especially vulnerable to this proposed national energy tax. Our farmers are already struggling with the high cost of fertilizer and feed and gas prices are going up. Now, in this time of economic downturn, is not the time to further drive up the cost of farming and the cost of food. American farmers can’t afford it and neither can American families.”

Vilsack has countered with this example:

“A Northern Plains wheat producer, for example, might see an increase of 80 cents per acre in costs of production by 2020 because of higher fuel prices. Based on a soil carbon sequestration rate of 0.4 tons per acre and a carbon price of $16 per ton, a producer could mitigate those expenses by adopting no-till practices and earn $6.40 per acre. So, this wheat farmer does better under the House-passed climate legislation than without it. And, it's quite possible that this wheat farmer could do even better if technologies and markets progress in such a way that allows for the sale of wheat straw to make cellulosic ethanol.”

Vilsack says the government will aid agriculturalists by assisting them in adopting new technology use and conservation practices.

“Well you know farmers, I know farmers. There's no question that they are going to be looking for alternatives. They are going to be looking for technology changes, for renewable energy sources, for biofuels, all of which could potentially benefit them in terms of lower costs," said Vilsack.

Judging from his experience with the 17 stops completed in the Rural Farm Tour, Vilsack told ag broadcasters he believes the cap-and-trade legislation should pass through Congress without resistance.

Should other industries be targeted for inclusion in cap-and-trade regulations? Are farmers being treated unfairly? Should the agriculture sector try to amend proposed legislation?