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Large ag gathering: getting back to normal

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Attendance was good for the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., which may indicate that the ag community is ready to get back to large gatherings.
With the onset of meeting season, it appears that things are getting back to normal.

We've got a lot of big ag meetings coming up. As we move into late fall and winter some very important meetings begin to pop up on the calendar. 

I used to love the madness of the season, attending the big meetings and seeing people I only saw a couple times a year. The information is always good and helpful, but it has always been the people I enjoy interacting with. 

COVID-19 brought a different perspective to the meetings. As the Midsouth Farm and Gin Show was taking place in 2020, news of the epidemic started hitting the headlines and shortly thereafter the country was locked down. 

At this point, it looks like the meeting season is getting back to normal. I've attended two big live meetings in the past few months, including the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., in October. The show started slowly on the first day. By Noon of the second day, the show was hopping. I haven't seen the final numbers, but I think the organizers are happy with the turnout. 

That bodes well for the big meetings that take place between Thanksgiving and early Spring each year. There are quite a few of them and most are worthy of participation, albeit with a bit of caution as the virus continues to hit some hard.  

The big kick off of the postharvest season is several state Farm Bureau meetings that take place within the first seven days of December. They are the policy and goal setting meetings that each state holds prior to the American Farm Bureau Convention in January. 

USA Rice, United Soybean Board and The Cotton Research and Promotion Program all have meetings in early December. I'm attending one of these meetings and have seen the protocol for staying healthy in the age of COVID that was provided. I'm sure it's standard procedure now for most organizers. 

The Beltwide Cotton Conference is the first live meeting to hit the calendar after New Year's Day, followed closely by the American Farm Bureau Convention.  

The National Conservations Systems Cotton and Rice Conference takes place later in January and has become a great, reliable source for information on cotton and rice production in the Midsouth. I highly recommend the conference. 

While the Midsouth Farm and Gin Show is by no means the last of the big meetings of the season, it is like the light at the end of the tunnel when it takes place in 2022 on Feb. 25-26. It's also a good celebratory end to meeting madness. 

Two weeks ago, the city of Memphis, the site of the show, lifted its mask mandate as cases of COVID fell to lower levels. I certainly hope virus levels stay low throughout the Holidays so that we can enjoy the live events once again. 

It will be nice to see everyone I missed last year. 

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