Minnesota had a strong showing at the 20th annual Commodity Classic with more than 50 Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council directors in attendance.
That strong showing helped set a new Commodity Classic attendance record, which boasted nearly 8,000 total attendees last week in Phoenix, AZ. The strong turnout shattered previous records for the landmark event.
“The 2015 Commodity Classic was a terrific event for our growers and all involved,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Sam Butler. “We know it wasn’t just getting away from the weather for a sunnier climate. Our farmers were actively engaged in everything the landmark event had to offer, with many arriving early for policy sessions and coming to association meetings on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon in Phoenix.”
Total attendance was 7,936, more than 600 over the previous record, 7,325, set in 2014. Other records broken were the number of growers, at 4,328 (compared to 3,874 in 2014); and the number of first-time attendees, at 1,409 (compared to 1,261 in 2014). Additionally, the trade show featured an all-time high of 355 participating companies, representing a record 170,500 net square feet of booth space. In 2014, 301 exhibitors used 126,200 net square feet.
“The number of first-time attendees we saw at this year’s Classic was important to us,” Commodity Classic Co-Chair Bart Schott said. “It shows that growers are spreading the word about the value of the Commodity Classic experience – and that they appreciate how the world-class educational and networking opportunities help them back home.”
The 21st annual Commodity Classic will take place March 3-5, 2016, in New Orleans. Starting in 2016, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and many of its members will be joining the event.
Growers busy with meetings
MSGA a directors kept busy at the 20th annual Commodity Classic. With the focus on the national organizations, MSGA directors and Minnesota delegates helped chart the course for the 2016 legislative priority year. Minnesota submitted one resolution about crop insurance claims. The resolution ultimately passed.
The full list of ASA resolutions will be posted at www.mnsoybean.org when the resolutions are made available.
While most of the focus at Commodity Classic focused on the work of the MSGA, MSR&PC directors in attendance were treated to updates by several industry partners.
Among the industry partners to present to the directors were John Becherer of USB; John Baize of Baize Associates; Steve Censky of American Soybean Association; Jim Sutter and Will McNair of U.S. Soybean Export Council; Harold Stanislawski of AURI; Mike Steenhoek, Soy Transportation Coalition; Jim Hershey of WISHH and John Hinners of U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Steenhoek addressed some of the concerns centered around transportation issues facing farmers, specifically the weight restrictions being proposed to over-the-road trucks. Steenhoeck said the STC has invested money into research on that very subject, and that research is showing that heavier trucks mean less loads traveling across roadways, which in turn means safer traveling. He said the findings fly in the face of concerns that heavier loads create additional safety hazards.
“Let’s face it, whether we’re talking 97,000 pounds or 125,000 pounds, a car is going to lose,” he told the directors.
Baize discussed the South American harvest and addressed some of the transportation issues facing Brazil and what type of impact it will have on U.S. soybean farmers.
MSR&PC directors also had several meetings separate from the updates, including discussions on Essential Amino Acids, U.S. pork and meat exports, and a look ahead at transportation concerns for 2016.