A farm show with no pickups, gimme caps, yardsticks and amazingly few plastic tote bags. And, no mud! Rain yes; mud no.

What kind of farm snow is that? One of the largest in the world, the International Exhibition of Agricultural Machinery Industries (EIMA), sponsored by the Italian Machinery Manufacturers Association. It is packed into about two dozen large modern exhibit halls at the fairgrounds in Bologna, Italy.

More than 1,700 exhibitors displayed 22,000 models covering 1,000 merchandise categories within 1.6 million square feet of exhibit space. And, no dicers and slicers in the lot. The late fall show drew more 114,000 people, mostly Italians. However, but there were more than 8,000 foreign visitors.

As a guest of the Italian Trade Commission, it was an unforgettable experience.

Several things were striking — besides no pickups, yardsticks or gimme caps. One was an amazing array of power mulchers and tillers. It was surprising since Italy receives considerable rainfall and winter chilling, ideal conditions for no-till or minimum till.

A curious difference between the farms shows at Stockton and Tulare was that producers at the Italian event gather in large groups around equipment and tractors, discussing with great animation the attributes or shortcomings of various tractor models and ag equipment.

At Stockton and Tulare, farmers go through those shows in waves, seldom stopping for any long periods at any one exhibit. At least that always seems to be the case in the Stockton and Tulare pavilions.

What is no different is the lure of big iron. The bigger the tractor, the more people surround it, whether it is in Bologna or Tulare.

And, there was plenty of big equipment, again a surprise since most of the farms we saw traveling in Northern Italy and Switzerland seemed small. There was a sugar beet harvester on display that looked like the Battleship Missouri and probably cost about the same to build.

However, then there were no pickups, yardsticks and gimme caps.

As a matter of fact, during the two weeks my wife and I were fortunate spent in Italy and Switzerland, we saw only one pickup truck. It was a 25-year-old El Camino complete with matching camper shell. It was in a Swiss industrial town of Winterthur.

I take that back. I saw a few Japanese pickups, but you really cannot count those as true pickups. They cannot haul a lot of stuff.

I asked an Irish farm equipment dealer why aren't there any pickups in Europe. He said farmers don't use them because stuff in the bed would get wet. That never stopped a U.S. farmer from buying a pickup. He said farm trucks are typically small covered vans.

I did not ask him where the farm dogs ride. In the cab or the van or do they just never go to town for parts?

I finally gave up looking for a 4×4 Silverado dually in Europe and decided to enjoy remarkable scenery, most hospitable people and a farm equipment show like no other I've visited.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com