Agricultural trades focus of Augusta show

Posted Jan. 07, 2010, at 9:48 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The 69th annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 12-14, at the Augusta Civic Center. With the Maine Department of Agriculture as host, more than 5,000 people are expected to attend one of the state’s largest agricultural events.

Coordinator Judy Blaisdell of the Department of Agriculture said floor space for exhibitors and vendors has been sold out for months, and this year’s theme centers on new technologies for sustainable agriculture.

“We have some very new and exciting things happening this year,” Blaisdell said Thursday.

Dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings will be featured, involving more than 40 major agricultural organizations, committees and agencies, as well as more than 100 exhibits with the newest agricultural products, equipment and services.

“This three-day event has something for everyone,” Maine Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet said. “The show provides an atmosphere for everyone to walk through, observe and educate themselves about the different areas of agriculture. Not only does the trade show furnish a showplace for farmers and producers to come and see the most up-to-date farm equipment and farming needs, but [it] provides an opportune juncture for networking and exchanging ideas. The show provides a wealth of knowledge for nonfarmers to learn about agriculture and is a great opportunity to learn how the locally grown products they consume are harvested and processed.”

New at this year’s show is a cutting-edge exhibit about online ordering systems that connect farmers and consumers. The Good Shepherd Food-Bank will provide information that will allow them to buy directly from local farmers with federal funding.

Blaisdell and Bradstreet said the event provides an atmosphere for casual observation and an opportunity for attendees to educate themselves about different areas of agriculture. The trade show furnishes a showplace for farmers and producers to see the most up-to-date farm equipment and services, as well as a place to network and exchange ideas. Those who do not farm can learn how locally grown food is harvested and processed. The main auditorium will feature a stage with floral design demonstrations presented by the Maine State Florist’s Association.

The show also provides an excellent opportunity for growers, pesticide applicators and dealers to get up to speed on the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification.

Workshops will cover a broad range of topics, from apple, cranberry, blueberry and forage pest management, to grubs, Bt corn, forest insects, late blight, and an update on regulations from the Board of Pesticides Control.

The Maine Farm Bureau will sponsor a miniconference on sustainability, and speakers will address genetic engineering, use of land and food safety.

“With economic troubles a continuing concern, the benefits of local agriculture are even more important,” Blaisdell said. “Energy costs are having a significant impact on farm operations, and discussions concerning what farmers can do to conserve and produce energy on-farm will be featured. Use of wind power and an overview of energy crops will also be discussed.”

Bradstreet urges all farmers to visit the Knox Room, first floor, north wing, to sign up with the department’s new Get Real Get Maine promotional Web site where producers can promote products locally and nationwide.

“We are also highlighting some other Internet marketing sites as well,” Bradstreet said.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14. Admission is free all days.

The complete program and schedule are available at www.getrealmaine.com.

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