Johnson: 'If it has a place in agriculture, it'll be there'


For the Capital Press

PASCO, Wash. -- The 2013 REAL AG Convention and Trade Show will attract thousands of agriculture professionals to update their knowledge of farm-related topics.

The event, Jan. 8-9 at the TRAC Center in Pasco, Wash., will feature an expert panel discussion on succession planning as well as pesticide recertification credit courses, in English and Spanish.

Organizer Shane Johnson said the annual event typically attracts around 3,000 people. More than 100 exhibitors will participate representing technology, chemistry, equipment, banking, insurance and other related areas.

"If it has a place in agriculture, it'll be there," he said. Also on hand will be employment agencies, which can direct farmers to good sources for seasonal laborers and other employment needs.

He said that this year's panel discussion will be particularly popular.

"Any time we hold succession-planning events, we have a big turnout," he said. Ranchers and farmers show great interest in keeping their land in their family as they grow older. As they slow down, they want to be sure that their legacy does not die with them, Johnson said.

This year makes this issue more pressing, he added, as new tax codes will affect how these transitions can best be made.

Panelists include attorney Beau Ruff, accountant David Hale and financial adviser James Stottlemyer.

Further helping a new generation of young farmers, scholarships will be awarded. Last year, two scholarships totaling $2,600 were given to the winners. This year's award winners are Shelby Salter of River View High School and Michael Lauria of Kennewick High School.

Another part of the REAL AG event are the pesticide applicator's license recertification courses, which will be available, Johnson said.

The courses will be taught by individuals from Washington State University and other groups.

He also mentions that attendees may also be interested in a special luncheon on Jan. 8 in which a leader of the Farm Bureau will attend and speak on labor, imports and challenges in agriculture.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is scheduled as a special guest at this luncheon.

Together, all parts of this event add up to an impressive whole, according to Corwyn Fischer, assistant director at the Washington State Farm Bureau, who intends to be at the show to promote his organization.

"It's an opportunity for us to be there and network with local farmers, and people from around the area," he said. "We want them to know that there is an organization working for them."

He said that he is encouraged by REAL AG's promotion of farm profit and opportunities for young people.


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