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Don’t overlook available education at a farm show


By Connie Swaim

Managing Editor 

Farm shows have rows upon rows of the latest and greatest in farm tools and implements; however, you don’t need to be in the market for the newest combine in order to get a lot out of a good farm show. As a matter of fact, shows are a wealth of information for those who take the time to review the schedules and visit all the booths.

At the Farm Science Review last week in Ohio, I sat in on three “Ask the Expert” talks. These were 20-minute programs that ran all day. A printed schedule allowed visitors to determine which days and times the topics they might be the most interested in would be presented.

Not only are talks like this a great way to get free education, they provide a place to sit and rest from the rigors of walking up and down miles of aisles. I listened to talks on trends in cash rents and land values in Ohio, the legalities of growing hemp in Ohio, and the issues of farm stress. I will talk more about these seminars in an upcoming column.

I wanted to stay for an overview of swine flu, but I was starving and it was noon. The aromas of cooking food were permeating the air. What to choose: Mexican, pork, or beef? The selections were endless, as were the lines. When it is noon at a farm show, everyone is eating.

I finally just stopped in front of a tent with what appeared to be a moderate line and decided whatever they were serving was what I was eating. It was the Ohio Beef Producers tent and they were offering ribeye and chopped steak sandwiches. As I sweltered in the heat waiting for the line to at least inch up to the shaded portion of the tent, a frantic-looking teenager ran out and announced the ovens were broken and there were no more ribeye sandwiches, but they did still have chopped steak.

No one got out of line. We were committed at this point. Whatever they had left would be just fine.

I had a delicious chopped steak sandwich with fries and an apple. And they served delicious unsweetened iced tea. I am a connoisseur of unsweetened tea and this was truly tasty. I shared a table with other hungry people and we remarked on the weather (hot, but a nice breeze); the crowds (could always be better); and “having fun?” (a resounding “yes”).

One of the barns housed educational opportunities in the form of lawyers who could answer agriculture-related questions. There were racks of legal bulletins from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. You could find everything from what to know about hemp to how to deal with trespassers on your property.

What was interesting to me about the trespassing bulletin was under the heading “What About Trespassing Children?” As a child who trespassed often (especially during mushroom hunting season), I can relate to this.

For one thing I was a “known” trespasser. The people knew I was there, but they never officially gave me written permission to be there. A known trespasser presents more dangers than one you didn’t know about, or a person who you gave written permission to use your property.

The Ohio “attractive nuisance” law applies if there is a dangerous “artificial” condition that attracts a child but also “creates an unreasonable risk of harm to the child. If it is foreseeable to a landowner that a child would be drawn to the attractive nuisance, the landowner must take steps to keep the child away from it or from being harmed by it. A landowner who fails to do so could be liable for the child’s harm and for the harm to a trespassing adult who tries to rescue the child.”

Examples of attractive nuisances on the farm include: manure lagoons (when I think “attractive,” this does not come up high on my list), machinery, grain bins, grain elevators, ladders, and hay lofts. Oddly enough, animals and natural conditions such as ponds are not attractive nuisances under Ohio law.

There were plenty of opportunities for visitors to learn about the right and wrong way to lift a bale of hay or bag of feed, to prevent back problems. You could learn ways to keep yourself healthy and happy on the farm.

In less than 30 minutes I picked up more than 100 pamphlets and bulletins on a wide range of topics. Other people might have been looking for the free pens or other swag, but the important information was there for anyone who took the time to look.

The next time you see a farm show advertised, don’t dismiss it just because you may not be looking for new equipment or a new type of seed. Take the time to look at the vendors and talk to them. You will find hundreds of dollars of free education just waiting to be picked up.

If you are looking for another great show to attend, keep the Indiana Farm Equipment and Technology Show in mind. It will be held Dec. 17-19 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The show is sponsored by Farm World and Hoosier Ag Today. For more information, visit