N.M. Ag Expo preparing for 14th year

By Tony Parra

The New Mexico Ag Expo held each year can be best described as the face of the community.

The 2006 New Mexico Agricultural Expo will feature everything from old tractor driving games, quilt and fashion shows to important, up-to-date industry developments for dairymen, ranchers and farmers.

There are also several demonstrations and vendors for the families who tour the Ag Expo, which has no entry fee.

Sharon King, Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce manager and an Expo organizer, said this year’s Ag Expo will have more than 400 vendors offering products and services and 160 booths set up. Nancy Gentry, chairperson of the Ag Expo committee, said the first-ever Ag Expo had 75 booths.

“I really enjoy all of the vendors coming into town,” Gentry said. “We’re hoping the Ag Expo will bring in new businesses to Portales. It’s (Ag Expo) very important for economic development.”

Gentry has been helping with the New Mexico Ag Expo ever since it’s inception.

The Ag Expo will have a wide range of activities such as an antique tractor parade, quilting shows, fashion shows, music festival, horse and working stock-dog training. King said the vendors will display the latest technology in farming and ranching as well as some of the standards — stock tanks, seed, feed, etc. There will also be a large selection of financial institutions specializing in agriculture. According to King, they will have a wide variety of vendors in the Women’s Building ranging from woodworking items to jewelry.

“The Expo offers a variety of activities for people,” King said. “There truly is a little something for everyone. The impact on our economy is very large — both in Portales and Clovis. ”
Floyd McAlister, Roosevelt County Ag Extension Agent, helped bring in specialists and experts from the agricultural field to help area producers and growers with their livestock and crops.

“We absolutely couldn’t do it without Floyd McAlister,” King said. “He has put together all of the seminars and demonstrations. ”

McAlister said he’s been helping put together the Ag Expo since the first year of the Expo in 1993. A few of the seminars designed to help the agricultural industry are: source and age verification of beef cattle, herbicide and chemical update and how to access livestock reproduction records.

“We try to provide timely seminars that the people in our community will benefit from,” McAlister said. “The source and aging seminar is a timely subject. Japan has discontinued the purchase of beef from the U.S. They want young cattle, less than 30 months old and they want to know the producer.”

Those who attend the herbicide and chemical update will receive one continuing education credit unit towards the renewal of their applicator’s license. The license has to be renewed every five years.

Two items of interest for those in the dairy industry will be a discussion on milk prices for 2006 and the Premium Grade and Registered Dairy Heifer Sale.

John J. Wilson, the Corporate Vice President of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. will give a presentation titled, “What’s Ahead in Milk Prices for 2006” on Feb. 22.
The heifer sale, held by Portales Livestock employees, will cap Ag Expo activities on Wednesday afternoon.

King said many people have helped put the Ag Expo together and have spent many hours organizing the event. King said there were approximately 2,500 who attended last year’s Ag Expo.

The drawing for the 16-foot stock trailer will be done mid-March, during the debriefing session of the planning committee members. Registration will be taken on both days at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds. They will verify all of the entries. Craig Hughes provided the trailer at cost, according to King.

The 14th annual New Mexico Ag Expo is being sponsored by Plateau Wireless and Hamilton Automotive Group.