ARA 2011: Wish You Were Here

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For many ag retailers, this week is special. Not only are the holidays kicking into high gear and grower-customers starting to make their upcoming season buying decisions, but the industry’s trade group, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is holding its annual meeting and conference. This year’s event starts on Tuesday, November 29, and runs through Thursday, December 1, in sunny Boca Raton, FL.

Based upon the literature and Website information, there will be dozens of exhibitors from all parts of the ag retail business on hand to talk about their products. There are also plenty of speakers, including Dr. Fred Below from the University of Illinois and a panel discussion on sustainability featuring Bob Willard of Willard Agri-Service and Dave Coppess of Heartland Co-op.

For our part, CropLife will be holding its 3rd annual State of the Industry Roundtable event, featuring eight ag retailers discussing marketplace trends and concerns. In addition, we will present the trophy to the winner of the annual CropLife IRON Product of the Year competition to one lucky product manufacturer.

Yet, despite all these noteworthy highlights to this year’s ARA program, I am surprised at the number of good industry friends I know who have decided to skip the 2011 event. In most cases, money doesn’t seem to be the issue this year. Time seems to be the culprit.

“Our season in 2011 started late and everything just stayed busy the whole year,” said one retailer I spoke with recently who wasn’t attending ARA. “I’m trying to catch up and plan ahead, so I just don’t have the time to go this year.”

While I’m sad to hear this from many industry friends, take heart. CropLife and its staff will have plenty of information to share from the show once it’s done so no one should feel left out from this important event.

Still, it would have been nice to see all my good industry friends one more time before the end of the year . . .

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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