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Farmers gather for a learning session
SEASON OF LEARNING: There is no official start to meeting season, but January in the northeast is full of events and workshops for farmers to learn more about how to improve their operations.

New year, new opportunities for learning

Meeting season is in full swing, and there is plenty going on.

As a farm writer, being outside is what it’s all about. I love going outside and talking to farmers about what’s going on while the bright sun beats down on my skin.

I love the growing season. It’s great for photography and stories, and for getting to know some great farmers.

But farming really is a two-season game. And right now, we’re in the middle of the meeting season. Some folks love it, some folks hate it, but I really see this as the season of opportunity.

If you want to learn something new about another farm’s production practices, finances, or just want to reconnect with some old friends, this is the time of year to do it.

As I write this, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is just about to start, and while many people think PFS is just for consumers these days, there are still things that appeal to regular farmers, including the many livestock shows and equipment dealers at the show.

Things really heat up after PFS with many smaller, but just as significant, meetings and events throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The 187th New York State Agricultural Society’s Annual Meeting & Forum will be held Jan. 10 at the Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool. This is the largest gathering of ag leaders in the state, and this year the main topic is trade. Some big awards will also be handed out, including the Next Generation Farmer Award, the FFA Chapter of the Year and the Distinguished Service Citation.

Down in Delaware is Delaware Ag Week, held between Jan. 14-17. For Delaware farmers, this is the place to be for new information and education on anything farming, from poultry to beef, vegetables to row crops. It will be held at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.

Maryland farmers can get the latest information on commodity prices, the farm bill and the state’s cover crop program from policy experts and university educators at the Agricultural Outlook and Policy Conference on Jan. 18. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Annapolis.

Fruit and vegetable growers will have their annual gathering in Hershey, Pa., from Jan. 29-31 at the Hershey Lodge. The Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention is three days of workshops, speakers and seminars on everything fruits and vegetables. Also on Jan. 29 is the annual Fruit and Vegetable Growers Reception and Banquet, where several awards, including Pennsylvania Grower of the Year and the Distinguished Service Award, will be handed out.

Pennsylvania dairy farmers will gather a few days later for their big event of the year, the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit on Feb. 5-6 at the Lancaster Marriott. “Dairy Coach” Tom Wall will talk about helping farmers be more productive while John Brubaker, formerly of Pennsylvania and now owner of Knott-Run Dairy, a 300-cow operation in Idaho, will also be featured.

Not far from the Dairy Summit and in the same city will be the annual conference for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, or PASA, from Feb. 6-9 at the Lancaster County Convention Center. The annual PASA conference is moving from its longtime location in State College to Lancaster County this year.

Indoor view from above of The New York Farm ShowEQUIPMENT EXTRAVAGANZA: The New York Farm Show, from Feb. 21-23, is the largest ag equipment show in the Northeast with more than 400 exhibitors and dozens of new products for farmers choose from.

And not to be outdone, or saving the best for last, American Agriculturist and the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association are putting on the New York Farm Show from Feb. 21-23 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y. It is the largest farm equipment show in the Northeast and is a great marketplace for farmers looking for new equipment and new ideas.

Free tickets are available from Northeast Equipment Dealers or by writing to New York Farm Show, P.O. Box 3470, Syracuse, NY 13220. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request by Feb. 15. Tickets at the door are only $5. Free parking and shuttles are available.

I’m certain there are many other events and meetings I’m missing, so be sure to attend an educational meeting at some point this winter.

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