Late Summer Means Reconnecting at Farm Shows

August 25, 2015

The time-honored tradition and ritual of late summer farm shows is upon us.

From the past 35 years, I have vivid memories of both 95-degree, dust-choked days along with up-to-your-axels in mud days at farm shows. Both options give farmers, and the people who sell to them, a chance to reconnect or create new relationships.

That is exactly what farm shows like Farmfest, Dakotafest, Farm Progress, Big Iron and Husker Harvest do for agriculture—bring ag producers and the agri-businesses who serve them together for several days at the end of summer.

These shows are an annual opportunity for farmers and agri-marketers to compare notes. For ag companies to hear from farmers: “How’s that new hybrid performing?” “Did that herbicide solve your weed problem?” “How’s that new sprayer working for you?”

And for farmers to learn what’s new: “Tell me about your aerial mapping service.” “What makes your nitrogen a more effective option?” “What makes this new model a better baler?”

Farm shows foster a healthy exchange of information. But this year, both sides agree the current ag economy is not good for either side of the equation. Current ag economics paint an uncertain and gloomy picture. Farmers are watching input costs very carefully, and agribusinesses are feeling their hesitancy with sales down double digits from the previous three years.

But keep in mind there is no group of people more optimistic at heart than farmers and the agri-marketers who sell them farm inputs and services. People in agriculture have to be eternal optimists to survive the uncertainty of weather, commodity markets, world affairs, government regulations and everything else that impacts their ability to generate a profit in this industry.

What farm shows do for everyone is provide hope. Hope for ideal weather during harvest with better than predicted yields. Hope for improvement in grain prices. Hope that new technology will improve production and efficiency. Simply put, hope that things will improve next year.

We had the good fortune to have Steven D. Johnson, Farm and Ag Business Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension Service, address our agency staff as part of Paulsen’s continuing education program. Johnson provided an overview of the current ag economy and highlighted several factors that have negatively impacted agriculture.

He also offered this valuable advice to weather tough economic times.

“My advice to producers and ag business is this: work on building strong relationships with the people you do business with,” he suggested. “Good communication helps us through these tough times.”

I can’t think of a better way to do that than by attending an upcoming farm show.

Finally, here’s some free advice—be sure to bring sunglasses and sunscreen along with your umbrella and raincoat. A tow-rope could come in handy as well.

See you there!

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