SALEM — Craig Gillison stood suspended 20 feet above the showroom floor in an Orbit Lift pruning tower Tuesday morning as he maneuvered the vehicle into place ahead of the opening of the 2020 Northwest Ag Show.

Vendors from across the country were arriving at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center in Salem for the 50th annual show, which opens at 9 a.m. Wednesday and runs through 2 p.m. Friday.

Gillison, of Gillison's Variety Fabrication based in Michigan, said the company has attended the Northwest Ag Show for 15 to 20 years, exhibiting machinery like the Orbit Lift used by Willamette Valley farmers to prune hazelnut trees.

"We sell a lot here," Gillison said. "It's just a good way to get in front of a lot of growers at the same time."

This year's Northwest Ag Show lineup features more than 130 exhibitors, who set up eye-catching booths to showcase their services and equipment.

Nearby, Ron Halbakken, national sales manager for Legacy Steel Buildings, put the finishing touches on a display assembled beneath a miniature quonset steel hut. Legacy Steel Buildings is the leading manufacturer of quonset steel buildings in the U.S., used primarily in agriculture for shops, barns and sheds.

"We do well here," Halbakken said. "Everybody wants to keep their stuff covered. It rains a lot."

In addition to the trade show, the Northwest Ag Show also offers more than 20 educational seminars delivered by local and national agricultural professionals.

Guest speakers will include Angelita Sanchez, a board member of the group Timber Unity. Beginning at 11 a.m. Wednesday she will discuss new carbon regulations that will be proposed during the upcoming Oregon legislative session.

Timber Unity formed last year to oppose the Legislature’s cap-and-trade bill, which farmers, ranchers and loggers argued would raise fuel and natural gas prices, placing them at a competitive disadvantage.

Jonathan Sandau, public policy specialist for the Oregon Farm Bureau, will also provide a comprehensive look at farm and forestry legislation likely to be introduced in the Legislature. His talk is Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

Maria Schmidlkofer, a Salem attorney who focuses on estate planning, will explain how to avoid "unintended consequences" of farm succession in her presentation. Robert Owens of Farmer Mac, the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corp., will also speak about agricultural economic and financial issues. Both of those presentations are sponsored by Harvest Capital Co., the title sponsor of the Ag Show.

Peter Mohr, a water rights expert at the Portland-area law firm Jordan Ramis, will talk at 9:15 a.m. Thursday about how to pursue and manage water rights for farms and ranches.

Also at the Ag Show will be Michele Payn, a nationally known speaker and author who addresses food myths and other topics important to agriculture. She appears at 1:30 p.m. Thursday courtesy of Oregon AgLink.

Finally, Garnet Cooke and Khadija Mostafa, with Oregon OSHA, will give a series of talks about farm health and safety compliance — including hazard communication, pesticide spills and splashes, reading pesticide labels and cannabis testing. They will speak at 9:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is offering 3 credits for the morning session and 4 credits for the afternoon session.

A full schedule of seminars is available online at A special supplement about the Ag Show also ran in last week’s Capital Press and is available online at

Oregon AgLink, a volunteer membership group that promotes Oregon agriculture, will hold its annual meeting on Thursday during the show.

At 9 a.m. Friday, Oregon Ag in the Classroom will bring back its Agricultural Career Expo, attracting about 200 area high school students who will learn about the many careers available in agriculture.

Founded in 1969 by Jim Heater and Lloyd Martin, the Northwest Ag Show is now managed by EO Media Group, publisher of the Capital Press. An estimated 3,554 people attended last year’s show.

“It will be a great show,” said Joe Beach, editor and publisher of the Capital Press. “We invite everyone to come and have a good time.”

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