By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Hands-on activities and a variety of educational sessions will highlight the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) tent during Ag Expo, July 16-18 on the MSU campus.
Youth can try their skills at a simulated commodities marketing display in the CANR tent, funded through a grant from 4-H and CME Group of Chicago.
“It is set up as a game through the 4-H program to teach kids about how commodity marketing is done,” said Betsy Braid, project event coordinator for CANR. “They will go through a simulation and actually market commodities so they can experience what a farmer goes through when they market their crops.”
For the fourth year, James Whaley, a 4-H and FFA member from Byron, Mich., will bring agriculture to life in the CANR tent with his chick-hatching booth. Whaley has his own business, Jimmy’s Farm Fresh Eggs, and enjoys teaching people about raising chickens and what it takes to run his business.
“I think it’s cool to watch chickens hatch,” he said during last year’s Expo. “It’s fun to see how kids react to it.”
The MSU Dairy Store will again offer free ice cream in the CANR tent. Visitors are asked to make a donation to support the CANR Alumni Scholarship Fund.
With recent changes in the state’s cottage food laws, extension educators will host the session “How to Start a Successful Cottage Food Business in Michigan” at 12:30 p.m. each day of the Expo. Braid said the workshop will cover the basic requirements for operating a cottage food business.
“What they will look at are the guidelines regarding how food has to be produced to sell and food safety procedures to ensure the food is safe. They’ll talk about labeling and packaging, and storing and transporting their goods,” Braid said.
During all three days of the Expo, representatives from MSU’s undergraduate programs office and the CANR Alumni Assoc. will be on hand with information about career options related to agriculture and natural resources and to speak with visitors.
A variety of sessions also will focus on legal issues with which farmers deal. “Resolving Agricultural Issues on Agreeable Terms” will give an overview of how mediation works, why farmers should consider it and how to access services through the Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program. David Gruber, from the Agricultural Mediation Program, will discuss this topic in the CANR tent at 11 a.m. each day of the Expo.
“Farming for the Generations: Maximize The Impact of Your Estate, Succession and Tax Planning Strategies” will focus on the use of buy-sell agreements and transfers with retained interests as part of the estate and succession planning process. It will also cover the use of defined-benefit plans as an estate planning tool for those considering retirement, and other issues that impact the estate planning process.
Presenter Mike Fraleigh from Fraleigh Law Firm, PLCC, will present this topic each day of the Expo at 1:30 p.m. in the CANR tent.
Join attorneys from Rhoades McKee, PC for an overview and current status update on the proposed farm bill. Learn how the bill affects agriculture-related issues in Michigan such as pricing, federal research, conservation programs and nutrition subsidy programs, and how you can prepare your farm or agribusiness organization for changes ahead. This presentation is at 10:30 a.m. July 16 in the CANR tent.
Other topics slated for discussion on the tent’s educational stage include new technology, contracts, the Affordable Care Act and gardening tips from MSU extension Master Gardeners. Visitors can also stop by the “Ask an Expert” booth and ask questions of extension educators.
Ag Expo features commercial farm equipment from throughout the Midwest and several Canadian provinces on the 35-acre main exhibition site, as well as educational exhibits from several MSU colleges and departments.
Ag Expo runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 16 and 17, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. July 18. Admission to the grounds and parking at Farm Lane and Mt. Hope Road are free. For more details, visit www.agexpo.msu. edu or call 800-366-7055. The MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sponsors Ag Expo.