Celebrating February Trade Shows

As I write this column, I’m between shows. I’ve just returned from the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY, and am ready to head out to the 2014 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, TX. These two events – coupled with the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA, and the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, TN, put a cap on the winter trade show season and herald the arrival of spring, when ag retailers and their grower-customers get down to the business of producing this year’s crop.

Which February trade show presents the best outlook for the coming year?

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Now many people have written the past few months about how the agricultural marketplace was due for a downturn or correction in 2014 because of the exceptionally high commodity prices/grower revenues experienced over the past five years. I remember back in January, many folks I talked with at some of the larger state association meetings and trade shows thought 2014 could be a “rough year” for ag.

However, based upon my chats with folks at the National Farm Machinery Show, the mood is becoming more upbeat as spring approaches. Several growers told me that things for 2014 were “looking up” now that a new Farm Bill has been passed.

In addition, I usually gauge how strong a year will be by how many new product releases take place at these February events. Normally, there are half a dozen or so, with a few Big IRON items mixed in with smaller pieces of equipment.

This year, however, was a bit different. There were probably two dozen new product introductions at the National Farm Machinery Show (and several more will most likely appear this week at the Commodity Classic). Although it’s not strictly an ag retailer product, the star of the Louisville event had to be the John Deere ExactEmerge planter. From the moment it was unveiled, this piece of equipment had a non-stop crowd of five to six people deep the entire show!

So with the winter show season winding to a close, it’s finally time to look ahead to spring. And based upon the evidence so far, it should be a good one.

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