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International Crop Expo returns for 16th year

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The International Crop Expo returns for its 16th year, with its traditional triple-headed focus on potatoes, small grains and soybeans/dry beans. But the 2017 version comes with a slight twist: one of its its keynote speakers is Chris Koch, a Canadian farmer born without arms and legs.

“That’s a little different for us,” said Lionel Olson, an agronomist who has helped to manage the show for many years. “Normally our keynote speaker has a business or economic aspect. But this is more on the personal side.”

The Ag Expo opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Feb. 22, and opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Feb. 23 There’s no admission fee either day.

It’s expected to draw about 4,000 people and 180 exhibitors. “We’re full again,” Olson said of exhibit space.

The Crop Expo was created by the combination of events hosted individually by small grains, potato and bean groups after the Alerus Center opened.

Concurrent sessions on potatoes, soybeans/dry beans and small grains on both days, most led by North Dakota and Minnesota extension officials, again provide the show’s core.

“There’s going to be some really good sessions,” Olson said.

But Crop Expo also features speakers and topics that should interest area agriculturalists in general.

Koch, from Nanton, Alberta, speaks at 1 p.m. Feb. 22.

“He’s someone who had some bad breaks, but hasn’t let that stop him,” Olson said. “I think it will be a very interesting presentation.”

The Feb. 23 keynote presentation, which also begins at 1 p.m., features Frayne Olson and Andrew Swenson. Olson is North Dakota State University Extension crop economist. Swenson is NDSU farm and family resource management specialist. They’ll speak on “Making Smart Financial Decisions for 2017 & Beyond,” looking at input costs, land costs, financial management, marketing decisions and more during this period of low commodity prices.

Potatoes and more

One of the show’s annual highlights comes from top potato industry officials, who this year will speak on the morning of Feb. 22.

Mark Klompien, CEO of United Potato Growers of America, will talk from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The  group describes itself as a “federated cooperative made up of local farmer cooperatives, whose objective is to advance grower sustainability by tracking and assessing supply/price relationships for major varieties in major fresh potato varieties in major potato-producing regions.”

Blair Richardson, president and CEO of Potatoes USA, speaks from 9:30 to 9:50 a.m. Potatoes USA, formerly known as the U.S. Potato Board, is the nation’s potato marketing and research organization.

T.K. Kuwahara, global marketing manager of Potatoes USA, speaks from 9:50 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

After a short break, John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council, will talk from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The group says it’s “committed to providing a unified voice for the U.S. potato industry on national legislative, regulatory, environmental and trade issues to promote the increased profitability for growers and greater consumption of potatoes.”

The highlights for soybeans and dry beans include a session on “Spray Drift Issues: Dicamba and More” from 10:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Feb. 23. It features Andrew Thostenson, Tom Peters and Daryl Ritchison, all with NDSU.

Highlights for small grains include a session on “Tillage: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” from 10:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Feb. 22. It’s led by David Lobb from the University of Manitoba.

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