|By DOUG SCHMITZ
AMANA, Iowa — Despite heavy rain and overcast skies that turned the ground into mud on its opening day last Tuesday, the 2006 Farm Progress Show welcomed an estimated 300,000 visitors to its three-day run at the 150-year-old, historic Amana Colonies.
“Iowa is one of the nation’s richest agricultural areas and is very important to our long-term Farm Progress Show strategy,” said Don Tourte, Farm Progress national business development director, about the company’s new move to establish a two-year opportunity to develop a “true world-class, permanent biennial Iowa site.”
“We had a terrific first-year show at our new Decatur site and the experience of building that site, together with the local community’s participation and Illinois and Indiana state-level support for the location really raised the bar for choosing our Iowa site,” he said about the show, which finished its last two days with cooler weather and sunnier skies.
Headquartered in Carol Stream, Ill., the Farm Progress Show showcases agriculture’s innovations, information and technology, as well as the latest agricultural equipment, products and services.
More than 500 exhibitors held field demonstrations to display the newest equipment in the 75-acre Tent City at the Amana Colonies RV Park and Outdoor Convention Center.
The three-day event attracted some of the biggest names in agriculture, including Monsanto, DuPont, Bunge, John Deere, Garst, Pioneer Hi-Bred, CASE IH and DEKALB®, which celebrated its 70th anniversary at the show by unveiling its new company logo.
Monsanto highlighted new seed and trait technologies, as well as what Dave Rhylander, director of traits for Monsanto, said were promising developments in the company’s new product pipeline.
Participants took guided tours to view its 25 demonstration plots, including such pipeline products as drought-tolerant corn that Rhylander said would become a family of products aimed at providing consistent yield and buffering against the effects of limited water.
Monsanto’s other demonstration plots included Roundup Ready2Yield™ Soybeans, which one official said targets up to a five-bushel-per-acre yield improvement over current Roundup Ready Soybeans in comparable germplasm; and Omega-3 soybeans for heart-healthy consumer food applications.
“As a company focused solely on agriculture, we are committed to helping farmers succeed,” Rhylander said last Wednesday at the company’s exhibition booth. “Their purchases of Monsanto’s technologies today support extensive research and development of innovative and new products for the future.”
In addition, DuPont and Bunge North America last Tuesday announced its joint expansion of the companies’ soy collaboration beyond food and nutrition products, launching its new TREUS™ low linolenic soybean oil at the event.
Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress Show national show manager and Adel, Iowa native, said these are examples of how this year’s event, which ran Aug. 29-31, emphasized the show’s continued dedication to progress by displaying agriculture’s innovations, information and technology.
“The Amana site offers many developed facilities - an asphalt-paved Central Ave. and 6th St.; other streets are rocked, well-established sod for the Tent City exhibit area, a field demo area close to the exhibits and several permanent restrooms,” he said about Amana’s 26,000 acres, which are owned by one of the 2006 show’s sponsors, Amana Farms, Inc.
“Agriculture brought the Amana settlers here in 1855, and it is agriculture that keeps the colonies operating,” said Frank Holdmeyer of the Amana Society, Inc., which co-hosted the show. “Now it is agriculture that brings Wallaces Farmer, a Farm Progress Publication, to sponsor the nation’s largest outdoor farm show in this picturesque countryside.”
The last Farm Progress Show to be held in Amana was in 1999, where the site has since received drainage upgrades and better access to roads leading to the Amana show site.
After 2006, Tourte said the show would rotate between its permanent biennial Decatur location and its yet-to-be-named Iowa site in two years.
The annual gathering represents a tradition of rural-community building with its educational offerings and has hosted many political leaders, including President Bush, who visited the 2004 show near Alleman, Iowa, and USDA Secretary Mike Johanns and Undersecretary of Rural Development Tom Dorr, who were both at the show this year.
Moreover, National Corn Growers Assoc. (NCGA) First Vice President Ken McCauley, incoming First Vice President Ron Litterer of Greene, Iowa, and CEO Rick Tolman attended the event last week with other farmers, agribusinesses and Johanns.
Johanns, an Osage, Iowa native, announced last Wednesday at the show that the USDA would be awarding $17,510,887 in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program grants to 375 recipients in 36 states. Johanns also announced $780 million in drought aid.
The 54th Farm Progress Show is slated for Aug. 28-30, 2007 in Decatur, Ill., with the show returning to Amana, Iowa in August 2008.
Located 15 minutes southwest of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Amana Colonies is Iowa’s top tourism attraction, boasting nearly 3 million visitors per year.
Steve Penny, Amana Society Inc. CEO, said having the Farm Progress show in the area every two years would further boost Iowa tourism.
“Amana and the eastern Iowa area receive a fantastic economic benefit from the show,” he said.
For more information on the Farm Progress Show, visit the website - www.farmprogressshow.com
This farm news was published in the Sept. 6, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.