Greg Lake is both a soil conservationist, working for more than two decades for the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District, but he is also a farmer in eastern Allen County. And last week, he helped man booth space for the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District at the annual Ft. Wayne Farm Show.
Now an iron show, as Lake calls it, with attendance approaching 10,000 on the top day of the three-day show, it began as a conservation stillage conference in the Grand Wayne Center some 20 years ago, sponsored by the Allen County SWCD. To say it caught on and has brought interest to Ft. Wayne from all over northern Indiana and western Ohio, even southern Michigan, is simply to state fact.
Despite the fact that most people come today to see equipment, much as they do to the Indy Farm Show or to the upcoming, national-level Louisville Farm Show, seminars are offered. This year, Lake says there was no question what farmers wanted to learn about. They wanted to hear anything they could on grain marketing, and what prices were likely to do.
"It was standing room only anytime someone with a marketing story would talk," Lake says. "Much of the buzz around the show was what was happening with markets, and what might happen in the future. The picture painted by some of the speakers wasn't particularly rosy. People were intent on hearing the message anyway."
Lake senses that many people, including experts, still see a reasonably solid farm income picture for 2012. It's what comes after that time that may become harder to tell, he notes. The experts pointed out that in the near –term, what happens with South America and other key influences on the market will likely influence prices.
Meanwhile, it was also interesting what people didn't flock to at the show, Lake says. Every year the first 200 people into the cafeteria at lunch on the first day are treated to a free lunch, with speeches by political figures. This year the talk was on the Farm Bill.
"Normally people are lined up to get in and the place is full," Lake says. "This year, we had probably 50 empty seats. I don't know if it's because they're not ready to worry about the farm bill debate yet, or if some other fluke factor was involved."