Delayed harvest bolsters attendance at Farm Science Review

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Farm Science Review
This year’s late harvest boosted attendance at Farm Science Review, which attracted 114,590 people over three days. (Sarah Donkin photo)

LONDON, Ohio — Even during a challenging year for farmers, the 57th annual Farm Science Review topped recent years’ visitor totals with its first-ever career fair, more than 100 educational talks and new technology.

This year’s late harvest boosted attendance at the farm show, which attracted 114,590 people over three days.

Typically at this time of the year, many farmers are driving combines. Instead, some were eyeing new combines and tractors displayed at the show, taking pictures of their children and grandchildren behind the wheel.

Under sunny skies and mild temperatures, visitors learned about the economics of producing malting barley, legal issues associated with growing hemp, the most common mistakes made by family run farms, and tactics to reduce the risks of producing corn and soybeans, among other topics.

Weather and China

Many of the educational talks at Farm Science Review addressed Ohio’s agricultural crisis in which persistent spring rain delayed or prevented planting on an unprecedented number of acres statewide.

Along with the tension that came with late or no planting this year and low commodity prices, unresolved trade talks between the United States and China, the nation’s top soybean buyer, are adding to the uncertainty.

Meanwhile, China’s demand for U.S. soybeans has plunged by about 50%, said Ben Brown, assistant professor of agricultural risk management at The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In Ohio, one out of every three rows of soybeans used to go to China. Now it’s one out of 10.

Government payments to farmers to compensate them for the decline in soybean demand have significantly helped prop up farmers’ financial statements, Brown said during a talk on trade policy.

Career fair

The bigger issue for Aaron Coontz, who raises corn and soybeans with his friend, is finding additional work to supplement his income. For the past three years, Coontz, who farms in London, has been looking for a job, ideally one in sales. So he was excited to see that FSR included a career fair this year.

At the event, he had a chance to talk to employers and get some business cards of people he’ll follow up with. Already Coontz juggles some occasional work landscaping, selling seed, and appraising equipment, but he’s looking for a more permanent position.

Next year’s Farm Science Review will be Sept. 22-24.

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