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Ag-stravaganza – farm show focuses on food prices, future

Mike Grime of Unverferth Manufacturing wipes down a Top Air sprayer in his display Tuesday at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center while preparing for the Northern Illinois Farm Show.
Mike Grime of Unverferth Manufacturing wipes down a Top Air sprayer in his display Tuesday at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center while preparing for the Northern Illinois Farm Show.

DeKALB – The future of agriculture in 2013 and beyond will be on display at the Northern Illinois Farm Show today and Thursday.

The show, which is held at the Convocation Center at Northern Illinois University, will feature a number of presentations about the future of the market in terms of prices and weather outlook.

“We’re able to do various educational things, and we’re able to do a lot of intimate farm training,” said Raymond Bianchi, the vice president of IDEAg and the group’s show director. IDEAg organizes a number of agriculture events around the country.

The Northern Illinois Farm Show is free to the public and requires no advance registration for attendees. There is a $5 parking fee.

The Illinois State Water Survey reported Friday that 2012 was the state’s second warmest and 10th driest year on record, with the average temperature at 55.5 degrees – 3.3 degrees above normal and just 0.1 degrees short of the 1921 record.

Like the majority of the country, Illinois has been suffering from a prolonged drought. In addition to affecting food prices, low water levels on the Mississippi River are threatening shipping traffic.

The new year isn’t starting off with much promise, Bianchi said. He said snowfall totals can be indicative of how wet the coming year will be, but he added “it’s a little too early to tell.”

The farm show will feature Candice King, a meteorologist with the WTVO Morning News Team in Rockford, who will discuss the long range weather outlook for the region, as well as give a presentation on how to properly fertilize after a drought.

“We really try to build a format that will appeal to producers,” said Samantha Kaplan, IDEAg’s marketing director. “They need to know what happened with the drought last year.”

Both Bianchi and Kaplan said the drought has contributed to renewed interest in the country in how people get their food.

“People outside of farming are starting to realize how important agriculture is to our daily life,” Kaplan said. “It’s becoming more of an important area of our economy. It’s always been important, but regular people might not know that.”

A number of presentations will also focus on food prices, including the keynote presentation. Brian Basting, a commodity research analyst with Advance Trading, is scheduled to talk about how farmers can take advantage of expected market volatility in 2013.

“One thing is important to us,” Kaplan said. “It’s making sure we have exhibitors, producers, and education on what these folks need to do with their (food) production to keep it going.”

The conference will feature a wide variety of vendors, with 250 exhibitors from seven states attending, Kaplan said. Big equipment companies will be present, in addition to banking and brokerage firms that specialize in farming.

There also will be a number of “interconnective” exhibitors at the conference, Kaplan said. These companies bring wireless access and digital mapping to farmers, bringing agriculture to the digital age.

“It is a big area that farmers are starting to move into,” Kaplan said. “Wireless technology is opening new areas for new providers to work with producers on productivity on their farm.”

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