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Tom Bechman at Farm Progress Show
WORKING: Tom Bechman (right), Indiana Prairie Farmer editor and longtime leader of the new-products team, will spend much of the 2019 Farm Progress Show scoping out new products.

Learn about ag’s latest products from team at FPS

Four Farm Progress editors work together to visit every exhibit at FPS and report on new products on display.

The Farm Progress Show, happening through Aug. 29 in Decatur, Ill., features dozens of brand-new products. That’s why four Farm Progress editors are divvying up the show grounds into quadrants. They’ll visit every exhibit to find the latest and most useful agricultural innovations for Farm Progress readers.

The new-products team includes two editors who have made the rounds at prior Farm Progress shows: Missouri Ruralist Editor Mindy Ward and Indiana Prairie Farmer Editor Tom J. Bechman. The other two editors haven’t worked on the new-products team before: Austin Keating, Prairie Farmer’s associate editor, and Shelley Huguley, Southwest Farm Press editor.

“I’m excited to meet growers from completely different parts of the country [while I’m in] Decatur,” says Huguley, who is married to a Texas cotton, corn and wheat farmer. This will be Huguley’s first Farm Progress Show.

“We all do the same thing. We just do it a little differently and yet love what we do,” she adds.

The cadre have decades of combined experience writing about new products and researching price points, though Keating and Huguley are relatively new hires, with one and two years at their current Farm Progress roles, respectively. Huguley previously wrote for the Texas Forest Service and as a freelance writer for the agriculture industry, including being published in Southwest Farm Press and other publications.

Keating, the youngest member of the new-products team, went to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., over the winter and reported on new products, an experience he says prepared him for joining the team.

“It was my first week on the job when I went to the last Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa,” Keating says, noting the “trial by fire” of taking pictures and reporting news didn’t include scouring the grounds for new products.

“I’m ready to do that now after Louisville, where I was able to accomplish the seemingly effortless juggling act my colleagues do every year at FPS. From my view, it’s not effortless, but it’s still incredibly rewarding,” he adds.

Ward, a seasoned new-products scout, says some vendors have highly visible, “flashy” products, but it’s often the more inconspicuous items that catch her eye and ultimately land in the “show favorites” story produced every year by the team of editors.

“Last year, I found one that was just a neat idea that will make life smoother for anyone who handles barbed wire,” Ward says.

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