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Published December 09, 2013, 09:42 AM

Another 'meeting season' begins in area agriculture

Non-agriculturalists sometimes grump to me that farmers work hard in the summer but do nothing in the winter except go to meetings.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Non-agriculturalists sometimes grump to me that farmers work hard in the summer but do nothing in the winter except go to meetings.

I defend farmers, especially ones with livestock. I grew up with beef cattle, so I know firsthand how much time and effort livestock requires in cold weather.

But there’s some truth to what the non-agronomists say. Agriculture in this part of the world is split into crop season and meeting season.

During the first, producers plant their crop, nurture it and harvest it.

During the second, they attend meetings and trade shows. They learn about developments in seed, fertilizer, plant protection products, equipment, tax laws and regulations that will affect the upcoming crop season and beyond.

For those of us involved in production agriculture, crop season/meeting season is an established way of life. There’s an old joke about shampoo manufacturers listing “apply shampoo, lather, rinse, repeat” on label directions. For aggies on the Northern Plains, it’s crop season, meeting season, repeat.

My life, like that of most Agweek readers, revolves around winter, spring, summer and fall. Sometimes, though, it seems that crop season and meeting season are the two seasons that really matter.

An abundance of meetings

Covering agriculture in this part of the world is both satisfying and challenging; so many different crops and types of livestock are produced here. Wheat, corn, soybeans, canola, sunflowers, dry beans, flax, barley, peas, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, cattle, hogs, sheep and others — each is important in at least part of the Upper Midwest.

Not surprisingly, so many commodities lead to an abundance of events during meeting season. Farmers and ranchers naturally want meetings and trade shows at which they can learn more about the crops and livestock they produce.

During the 2012 to ’13 meeting season, I covered all or parts of 11 different meetings and trade shows. Mikkel Pates, my stalwart colleague here at Agweek, covered many, too. There were a lot that neither of us covered; it was impossible to get to them all.

In a perfect world, we would attend every event. But, in this imperfect world, we often need to make tough choices.

I’m sometimes asked how Agweek decides which meetings and trade shows to cover. There’s no easy answer. Travel distance is a factor, of course. The size of the event and its subject matter are major considerations, too.

Meeting coverage isn’t etched in stone. Times change, and coverage changes, too.

If you’d like Agweek to come to your meeting, drop us a line and make your pitch. You may not get the answer you want, but I promise we’ll listen with an open mind.

There’s seldom a clear delineation between crop season and meeting season. This year’s crop season isn’t quite finished; some corn and sunflowers remain to be harvested.

Even so, meeting season has arrived. Enjoy it. Make the most of it.