By MELISSA HART
COLDWATER, Mich. — The 46th Annual Farmers Day is on the slate for Feb. 18, at the Branch Area Careers Center in Coldwater. With a plethora of educational sessions throughout the day and a trade show of everything agriculture, this annual event is a must-see for anyone in the ag industry.
The longevity of Coldwater Farmers Day is a tribute in part to the popularity of the event.
“I believe that it’s popular because it incorporates a variety of different aspects such as classes about cooking, canning, 4-H related classes about exploring showing different animals and the Pork Quality Assurance class, the ‘make and take it’ 4-H class and classes that count for RUP credits,” explained Michigan State University extension educator Suzanne Pish.
“In the past we have had between 400 and 700 people come to the event, mostly farmers and rural folks from the surrounding counties, but also 4-H participants and families. In recent years we have also had more general public come to join the cooking-type classes.”
There is a large trade show that accompanies the educational seminars, and Pish mentioned some of the faithful vendors that come year after year. She explained, “Some of the favorites are Greenstone Farm Credit, who provide ice cream and the famous Darla ‘milk a cow.’ Other vendors include farm supply businesses, insurance agencies, seed businesses and local farm equipment dealerships.”
An hour of perusing the trade show will kick off the day, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. At 10:30 the education will begin with six seminars to choose from, with MSU extension educators. Roger Betz will tackle what’s new with crop insurance, Rita Klavinski will offer methods and guidelines of food preservation, Phil Tocco will cover food safety for producer growers, Dr. Jim Hilker and Bruce MacKellar will team up to give corn production and marketing updates and Connie Lange will take the younger crowd on a 4-H exploration.
The Michigan Pork Producers Assoc. will be on hand to offer Pork Quality Assurance for youth swine exhibitors.
The exhibit area will reopen from noon-1:30 p.m., with lunch available for $2, the proceeds going towards the Agribusiness Scholarship Fund. At 1:30 the afternoon education sessions begin with seven different options.
Betz will be back in action, talking about taking over the family farm; Orvul Huff, a retired fireman/EMT, will discuss farm accidents and what to consider; Pish, Sarah Johnson and Valerie Albright, all of MSU, will discuss thrifty tips for your food fund;
Hilker and MacKellar will switch to soybean production and marketing updates; Kent Neitzert of Neitzert’s Greenhouse will discuss home greenhouses and raised gardens; and Lange will offer a “make and take” project for the younger attendees.
Because taking an animal project to the fair can be overwhelming to those who are new to the idea, a seminar on the care, raising and showing of small and large animals will take place throughout the day, starting with rabbits at 9:30 a.m., poultry at 10, sheep at 10:30, goats at 11, starter calves at 11:30, horses at 1 p.m., swine at 1:30 and beef at 2.
Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) exams for all categories will be given by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. You must be in the room by 2:15 p.m. in order to take the test.
A check or money order for $50 for private and $75 for commercial applicators is required.
The entire event is free, runs from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and is sponsored by MSU extension-Branch County, Branch County Agribusiness Council and the Branch Area Careers Center. For more information, contact Branch County extension at 517-279-4311.