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A connected world creates an ever-changing business arena

In the television show “Lost,” 48 people survive a horrible plane crash to find themselves stranded together on an island.

According to the script, they’re faced with harsh terrain, cruel weather and dark secrets. And they’re all connected in someway. The connections continue to unravel with each episode, which is now in its third season.

Although we are not lost, the challenges the characters in the television show face are not unlike those we face in agriculture. We are in a new and different environment, all somehow connected, and yet we find we still need to connect the dots, so to speak.

In this new environment, we face new relationships that directly impact the traditional aspects of our industry.

We’re excited about the prospects for biofuels while at the same time we’re concerned that this new industry could negatively impact the profitability of our livestock operations.

In our new environment, we are looking for ways to adapt and adjust our activities to achieve a positive outcome. We need new and different strategies to succeed and survive.

The new strategies inherently involve recognizing just how connected we are. We are invested in our communities, local schools, local issues and local sports teams. We raise food to feed America and the world, all the while having to make choices about continuing in an ever-changing business in which we are increasingly wired.

24/7, 365 days each year, we have access — either through our fingertips or through our earpieces — to information that will help us make decisions about our future crops and investments.

We are connected and we track it all — weather, insects, inputs and yields.

We have auto-guidance systems for our farm machinery and in our trucks. It’s real-time, around -the-clock, and we can download that information to our computer in the office or into the PDA or smart phone that have become part of our everyday attire.

The companies and associations we do business with are increasingly linked to the market, each other, and to us. It’s important to note that companies are always trying to connect with their customers.

And it’s also important to note that companies can get to customers they couldn’t reach before. There is no shortage of connections.

In fact, there is an abundance of opportunities to connect. These connections almost always come from companies asking themselves good, basic questions: Who are we? What do we stand for? What does it take to compete, to be a critical link in someone’s value chain?

Not only is the connection true within agriculture, it’s true throughout the U.S. and international economies. The enormous influence of investment capital into the commodity markets is felt throughout the industry.

The increasing cost of animal feed, in part due to increased biofuel production, ultimately shows up on the profit-and-loss statements and the perceived value of a stockholder’s share in a food industry company; a company whose profitability in turn depends on its cost of inputs for production.

It’s ironic that with all of the linkages and connections available, many companies that once thought of passing along the increased cost, are finding themselves in situations where other connections and global competition impact what they can or cannot do.

It is not surprising that many big companies have evolved to meet the changing demands of the environment and the marketplace. These companies are changing so they can connect with their ever-changing key customer base.

At the same time smaller companies are finding significant niche markets and specialized needs that utilize internet-based connections to give them an online “shelf-space” presence to a worldwide audience.

There are huge opportunities for us as new links are being made.

Clearly the efficiency, the integrity, the good reputation of the American farmer are very much at stake in regards to what he has always done, but also as he moves increasingly into a global world.

These linkages and connections are very evident in Mid-South Farm & Gin Show.

When you look at the show in terms of the new products — and we have more new products and services this year than ever before —- they clearly reflect where the companies think agriculture is headed, what they think will make a difference in an uncertain environment.

Changing commodity prices, the treadmill of technology, mergers and consolidations, have companies and others asking, “Where do we fit?”

If one looks at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show and all that is taking place in agriculture, one will see an industry that largely goes unnoticed in the consumer world. This is because consumers continue to get an incredible value for a comparatively small percentage of disposable income. It’s all available daily and taken for granted at their local supermarket connection.

Each year we showcase this incredible industry of agriculture. We continue to review events of the year that might have shaped us and turn those events into a high-quality event that reflects the world in which we live.

Now more than ever, the connections that are critical to the success of this business are very evident.

These connections, on display at the 55th annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, indicate that we are adapting, we are adjusting, and we are making the necessary links for future success.

Over the past few years we have provided specific seminars to address production issues, introduce new technology and expand your marketing capabilities.

Last year, we evaluated the impact of renewable fuels on our operations and industry.

This year, Richard Brock will once again address the unique marketing opportunities that are available.

We will also have a special cotton marketing seminar and an energy seminar that will help make sense of the expanding renewable fuels industry and the role of agriculture.

The 55th Mid-South Farm & Gin Show is once again shaping up to be one of the biggest showcases of agriculture in our area.

We hope you join us for this showcase as we honor the rich traditions of our industry and look at what the future might hold. We also hope that you take full advantage of the music, food and hospitality that comes with Memphis.


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