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Published February 12, 2013, 11:21 AM

Big farm show returns to Grand Forks February 20 and 21

Annual International Crop Expo will be held Feb. 20 and 21 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

By: Johnathan Knutson, Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A three-headed agricultural tradition returns Feb. 20 and 21 to the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

The International Crop Expo — which combines activities sponsored by small grain, potato and soybean groups — is expected to draw 5,000 people and upwards of 200 exhibits. The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 20 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 21.

“It’s pretty popular,” said Lionel Olson, a Grand Forks County extension agent and one of the show’s managers. “We draw people from as far away as Montana, Canada and South Dakota,”

The annual show has drawn well, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, he says.

This year’s show includes a keynote address by Michele Payn-Knoper, an agricultural strategist, and a panel discussion that will look at managing market risk in volatile times.

Concurrent seminars on small grains, potatoes and soybean/dry beans will be held both days. Many of the seminars will be led by North Dakota and Minnesota extension officials, with a number of other experts speaking, too.

The show was founded 12 years ago after the Alerus Center opened. It combined three smaller events hosted individually by the small grain, potato and soybean groups.

Historically, the International Crop Expo has attracted a number of nationally prominent potato industry officials, Olson notes.

This year, John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Potato Council, will speak at 9 a.m. Feb. 20.

The National Potato Council advocates for U.S. potato growers on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental and trades issues.

Other speakers at the Grand Forks show will examine marketing and production issues facing potato growers.

The small grain sessions will look at drought, soil testing and the farm bill, among other things.

The soybean/dry bean sessions will examine managing water and weed resistance, among other issues.

The educational sessions and the exhibits complement each other well, Olson says.

“The exhibits draw people to the sessions, and the sessions draw people to the exhibits,” he says.

In past years, officials with the International Crop Expo sometimes referred to the show as “Big Iron in the winter,” a reference to the popular Big Iron farm show held every September in West Fargo.

Payn-Knoper will speak at 1 p.m. Feb. 20. Her presentation will be “on the farm gate to the dinner plate” and is intended to help agribusinesspeople adapt in the 21st century.

“We’re pretty happy to get her,” Olson said.

The panel discussion on managing risk begins at 1 p.m. Feb. 21. Speaking on the panel are Mike Krueger of Money Farm, a grain marketing advisory firm located near Fargo; Al Nelson of AgCountry Farm Credit Services; Paul Coppin, general manager of Reynolds United Co-op; and Frayne Olson, North Dakota State University extension service farm crops economist.

“There should be a lot of interest in what they (the panelists) have to say,” Lionel Olson says.

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