MN Ag Expo: Something Old, Something New

The 2016 MN Ag Expo is nearly upon us. Next week, agriculturalists from across Minnesota will gather in Mankato at the Verizon Wireless Center to work, learn and reconnect. With a robust lineup of events, sessions and trade show exhibitors, there is bound to be something for everyone.

Initially Ag Expo was hosted in order to bring farmers together for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) Annual Meeting. Ag Expo has since become a fixture for farmers not only for annual meetings but to help develop advocacy positions, meet with industry representatives and catch up on the latest developments.

In the early years there was a very small trade show, only a dozen booths, and it was a one-day program. The trade show grew with industry representatives wanting to interact with more growers. This year’s Ag Expo trade show will be the largest ever with nearly 90 exhibitors.

While the Annual Meeting and Trade Show are highlights, networking continues to bring farmers to Mankato.

“Agriculture has come together in the last few years and we are realizing we really need to speak together with one voice,” MSGA President Paul Freeman says.

With farmers and industry partners coming together, there is also an opportunity to gain some valuable information. Over the years, Ag Expo has hosted a variety of different speakers and presentations bringing information on research, new markets and policy updates to farmers.

“I first went to the annual meeting to talk with Kim Larson about getting Pope County organized as a corn and soybean organization,” says Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council Director Vernon Pooch.

Pooch also remembers the transition as more education and policy became a part of annual meetings and eventually MN Ag Expo.

“There was a speaker who said, ‘Just think, if we could get everyone in China to eat one more egg per week, how many more soybeans would be needed to feed more chickens to produce more eggs to feed all those people.’”

As farmers prepare for expected lower prices, growers can come to Ag Expo to gain information about new and specialty markets to help leverage their crops when they have low prices.

“Expo can help build synergies amongst commodity groups, develop more effective advocacy and draws politically minded farmers and advocates to give Minnesota farmers an edge during tighter years,” Freeman said.