Each year, as I’m driving home on Sunday morning following the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show — feet, legs, and back aching from three days of tromping around on the concrete floors of the huge Memphis convention center — I invariably start remembering all the folks I’ve crossed paths with during those wanderings, and I think to myself: “They just don’t make ‘em better than ag people.”
It’s kinda like a big family reunion — walking around and renewing acquaintances, meeting new folks, and catching up on who’s doing what.
Some folks I see only at the show each year; others I see fairly frequently at the numerous meetings that clog our calendars. Some I’ve never met before, and it’s always a pleasure to chat with them and learn a bit about their farming operation, their agribusiness, or friends we may have in common (or like Alicia, Ark., producer Larry Corbett, who within minutes of my meeting him was laughing and cracking jokes as if we’d known each other forever).
There is a diminishing number I’ve known since the early years of my Farm Press career, many now retired, others still working (among them, Bill Fagala of AgriSolutions, who goes back to early chemical company days), and an even smaller number who predate my Farm Press days (Bruce Branch, for example, who was a student in my wife’s high school English class during our years at Winona, Miss., and is now a farmer there).
There is, admittedly, a smattering of flattery involved, when folks stop me and say, “I recognize you from your picture in Delta Farm Press,” and offer compliments on our publication. From the long-ago time I came to work here, I have been impressed by the high regard in which this publication is held.
Among those I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time this year were Eugene and Mary Sukup, a delightful, outgoing couple from Sheffield, Iowa, who found happy coincidence in their celebrating 59 years of marriage in the year of the 59th Farm & Gin Show.
Gene, who laughs and modestly describes himself as “just a farmer who had ideas,” has seen his grain bins/equipment company become an agribusiness icon, with sales nationwide and in 50 countries. He holds 40 patents and at the show was proudly showing off his latest brainchild, the Buster Bar, which breaks up grain clumps in the sumps of bins, eliminating the need to enter the bin, thereby adding another level of safety. The company also designed and donated a number of grain bin “houses” for the Haiti earthquake relief.
Impressive, too, were the number of charity-related efforts at the show, ranging from food bank donations to programs to aid the needy with contributions of fiber products — agriculture sharing its bounty with those less fortunate.
Yep, they just don’t make ‘em any better than ag people.