The Big Show is here. And Central Illinois welcomes the world.

This is the eighth repeat of one of the most exciting and impactful efforts to freshen the link between Decatur and agriculture. The Farm Progress show not only brings a billion dollars worth of agricultural technology to Progress City, but it also brings 150,000 farmers, the salt of the Earth. Some will come to make a final choice on a new tractor to buy when the get home. Others are looking for a crop protectant to help them overcome weeds and critters.

Matt Jungmann, director of shows and events for Farm Progress, and his colleagues have branded the show the year of the tractor because of all the new farm power offerings from global equipment makers. They not only have a herd of horsepower, but they are increasingly farmer-friendly. Expansive glass cabs that allow unobstructed vision. Soundproofing so advanced that a glance at the gauges is needed to guarantee the engine is running.

The Farm Progress Show is the epitome of Greg Sauder’s mantra, “What’s new, what’s next.”

Sauder is the 21st century agri-tech whiz kid that developed and sold Precision Planting, and is now driving its competitor, Yield 360, with a gamut of geek goodies. Visitors to the Farm Progress Show visit both exhibits to learn how some techie-stuff can make them more efficient.

But as Willie Vogt, the executive editor of Farm Progress Publications says, there are 500 shortline companies that have brought technology that will do the same -- help farmers increase their efficiency so they can grow more with less blood, sweat and tears. While farm income is short, they may find the answer they need at the Farm Progress Show to last another year on the farm, and without the labor that is becoming so rare.

With hundreds of exhibitors showing and demonstrating their latest efforts to help farmers, they may also be attracting their future employees. With the efforts of ADM, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the Macon County Farm Bureau, upwards of 2,000 youngsters will have an opportunity to be educated about agriculture and the high-tech business that may provide a career in future years. Their free ticket to the Farm Progress Show is not a free day out of school. It is a well-rounded education unavailable to youngsters in every other city.

For a one-time farm boy who never mentally left the fragrance of moist soil, the smell of July corn, and the sting of barbed wire, the Farm Progress Show is an opportunity to see how far farm technology has come from a John Deere 4020 and 65 bushel wagons full of corn, wheat and beans that were dumped at the elevator at Willeys. While time has taken its toll, the chance to see the future at the Farm Progress Show is priceless.

Thanks Randy.

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Stu Ellis is an observer of the Central Illinois agriculture scene. In addition to his weekly column, you can view his “From The Farm” and “Harvest Heritage” reports on WCIA 3 News.




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