On a clear afternoon, the Sierra Nevada becomes a magnificent backdrop to the largest agricultural gathering in California each February.

World Ag Expo exhibitor banners and signs contrast colorfully with what will be a snow encased mountain range this year for the 44th annual running of the world’s largest agricultural exposition Feb. 8-10 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, Calif.

One of the heaviest snow packs in several years will be evident to the 100,000 people who are expected to visit World Ag Expo’s nearly 1,500 exhibitors within the 2.6 million-square-foot show grounds located alongside Highway 99 midway between Fresno and Bakersfield.

Snow melt from the 640-mile long mountain range is major source of water for farmers and ranchers in California. Early-season measurements reflected a snow accumulation of at least 200 percent of normal this year. This is sure to give an economic boost to attendees and exhibitors at World Ag Expo.

“World Ag Expo is truly an experience, and there is something new and different to see each year,” says Lee Coito, 2011 World Ag Expo chairman and a Tulare County dairyman. “It is a blend of impressive big pickers and tractors, the latest in technology, a chance to see old friends and great food that supports great causes. We’re proud to support the world’s most important industry. ”

The theme of this year’s Expo is “Tools for Agri-Business”

Show hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, the final show day. General admission is $12 per person.

Coito is one of the more than 1,200 orange-jacketed-volunteers who make the show happen each year.

“For just three days in February, World Ag Expo brings together the world of agriculture,” Coito noted. “This expo is where farmers, dairymen and ranchers see great innovations for the first time. Much of this new technology is then adopted as part of their operations. It’s all thanks to World Ag Expo volunteers.”

New for 2011 is a first-ever concert series, kicking off Tuesday with CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, Blake Shelton. The concert is a fund-raiser for a new initiative of the International Agri-Center to support and promote California agriculture.

Shelton will perform inside the new Entertainment Pavilion on the show grounds. Tickets are $40, $60 and $80 each and are on sale at worldagexpo.com. Opening for Shelton will be Warner Brothers recording artist Jason Jones.

The second night of the series is a fund-raiser for the new College of the Sequoias agriculture program and will feature Grammy nominee David Nail with opening act Stealing Angels. Tickets are available online for $65, $50 and $25.

World Ag Expo attendees will get to experience agricultural equipment first-hand in the Ride and Drive test area where Toyota, American Honda, Dodge, John Deere, Topcon and Gehl allow attendees to test drive the newest products in real, on-the-farm conditions.

A vast array of dairy products, technology and services will be on display in the 70,000-square-foot Farm Credit Dairy Center.

Pavilions A and B will feature general agriculture and irrigation exhibits, while Pavilion C features agri-chemicals, fertilizer and spray equipment exhibitors. New for 2011, Pavilion D will feature a beef and livestock emphasis, with a beef and livestock demonstration area where exhibitors can showcase new technology.

Located in the 22,500-square-foot pavilion in the southwest corner of the grounds, the Beef and Livestock demonstration area will be the premier location where exhibitors will showcase new technology for the beef and livestock industry.

Cattle breed associations Red Angus, Angus and Hereford will provide speakers on heterosis, feed efficiency, evaluations and land availability. Jon Mollhagen of Moly Mfg Co. will have a Silencer Hydraulic Squeeze Chute for live demonstrations that will take place between seminar times. Demonstrations will be held by Ultrasound Practitioner John Openshaw and Jon from Moly Mfg. Check worldagexpo.com for more information.

Top-40 Professional Bull Rider, Brendon Clark will be signing autographs and presenting giveaways from the Professional Bull Riders exhibit space.

Beef and livestock increase

Over the last two years, World Ag Expo staff has seen an increase in interest in a beef and livestock area among producers who attend the expo. “Major exhibitors in the beef and livestock industry have expressed interest in showcasing their technology in on-the-farm situations at World Ag Expo,” points out Coito. “We have been told ‘If you build it, we will come.’ We believe there is no better place to showcase this technology than at World Ag Expo.”

World Ag Women will offer a wide array of program in the WAW Pavilion, including cooking demonstrations by chefs from California’s top restaurants, a session on quilting and another on fire prevention in the home.

Other highlights of the 2011 World Ag Expo include:

• The Top-10 New Products Pavilion housing the 2011 winning entries and 10 honorable mention products. Attendees can help select the Attendees Choice award winner from the Top-10 by voting online and at the New Products Pavilion. “The 2011 Top-10 New Products are of a class to themselves,” says Chairman Coito. “These products are well designed and engineered to meet the needs of today’s agribusiness professional.”

• Download the new for 2011 World Ag Expo iPhone or Android app, powered by MC Solutions, or bookmark the mobile show grounds, for smart phone and web-enabled devices. These two new features will help attendees reach exhibitors before, during and after the expo. Visit worldagexpo.com for smart phone details.

• Regional FFA programs will again benefit from a fund raiser with support from Toyota. FFA members are selling $5 tickets and one winner will drive off a new Toyota 4X2 Tundra Grade Crew Max Thursday afternoon at the drawing in the Toyota exhibit area.

• The Forage Challenge, presented by Mycogen Seeds, will recognize the top forage entries, all vying for prize money. The forage display is located in the New Products Pavilion in the southeast corner of the grounds.

Free parking is available on the show grounds, and a free shuttle service is available from several locations in Visalia and Tulare to help attendees avoid congestion on surrounding roads.

And, not to be overlooked is the wide array of food booths, all operated by local non-profit organizations, located on the show grounds.

There will a pair of early morning gathering in the Heritage Complex adjacent to the Expo.

These include the 17th Annual California Agricultural Leadership World Ag Expo Breakfast Tuesday morning. This year’s event features Brian Shul, a retired Air Force fighter pilot for more than 20 years. He flew over 200 close air support missions in Vietnam before his aircraft was shot down. Unable to eject, he was severely burned in the crash and given little chance of survival. He spent one year in hospitals and endured 15 reconstructive surgeries. After countless hours of physical therapy, Brian surprised his doctors by returning to flying jets. He went on to become a test pilot, was a Top Gun Instructor, and culminated his Air Force career by flying our nation’s premier spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird.

Speakers at this year’s Prayer Breakfast will focus on the theme “Discovering God’s Renewable Energy in Agriculture.” There will be two seatings at 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Keynote speaker will be Wayne Crabtree, a planning and strategy advisor for Chevron Environmental Management Co.

This year’s featured farm family will be represented by the Richard Borges family of Tulare.

Seminar schedule Feb. 8

All seminars are free. All, except the World Ag Women programs, will be held at the Seminar Center, Expo Lane between R and S Streets in the South Expansion Area. World Ag Women Pavilion is located on “I” Street between South Greenbelt and South Street.

Tuesday, Feb. 8

10 a.m. - Hay & Forage Seminar

Navigating the Corn Silage Maze — Everett Thomas of Oak Point Agronomics will provide practical advice on selecting silage corn to fit herd size, storage options and milk production goals.

10:15 a.m. - World Ag Women Event, World Ag Women Pavilion

Journey of Quilting — Charlotte Rogers, a Hanford quilting instructor and antique quilt collector, will display antique quilts, working her way through quilting history from 1840 to today.

10 a.m. - International Trade Seminar

Are Global Food Safety and Quality Standards Making the Grade? — Dr. Scott Hood from General Mills, Dr. Barry Eisenberg from United Fresh Produce Association and Scott Horsfall from the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement will discuss federal and state safety regulations,  industry-developed standards, post harvest quality assurance practices and traceability.

10:45 a.m. - Dairy Profit Seminar

Dairy and Air Quality — Where the Industry Stands — University of California’s leading air quality researcher Dr. Frank Mitloehner will discuss regulatory pressures on San Joaquin Valley dairies from air quality regulations.

11 a.m. - Hay & Forage Seminar

Choosing the Best Alfalfa and Silage to Maximize Milk Production and Profit — Gerry Higginbotham, University of California farm advisor, Fresno County, will review the basics of forage quality measurements and their impacts on dairy rations, production and economics of dairy farming.

11 a.m. World Ag Women Event - World Ag Women Pavilion

Chefs Prepare Tasty Fare — Chefs Jon Koobation from Jon’s Bear Club in Reedley, David and Greg Vartanian from Vintage Press and Jack & Charlies in Visalia and Chef Tunny Ortali from McLintock’s in Pismo Beach will prepare tasty dishes.

11:15 a.m. - International Trade Seminar

How Do Major International Food and Agricultural Supply Chains Select Suppliers? — A panel from major international supply chains will provide tips on how to beat competition and expand food and supply sales in international markets.

12:15 p.m.- Dairy Profit Seminar

Facing Challenges: Immigration Compliance Strategies for Dairy Producers — Labor attorney Anthony Raimondo will discuss how to complying with current immigration laws.

12:30 p.m. - International Trade Seminar

Grow Local, Sell Global — Farmers turned exporters will explain how they expanded their businesses by marketing internationally. Featured speakers are Don Barton, president of Gold River Orchard and Loren Booth of Booth Ranches.

1:15 p.m. - Dairy Profit Seminar

Evolution of a Feed Program for K-State’s High Producing Herd — Dr. Evan Titgemeyer, Kansas State University dairy professor, will discuss combining ration ingredients to maximize formulations on milk fat.

1:30 p.m. - Hay & Forage Seminar

Economic Trends with Hay and Forage Market — Seth Hoyt, of The Hoyt Report, will offer his forecasts for milk and hay prices.

1:45 p.m. - International Trade Seminar

Cuba “A New Beginning” — Is There Really a Market for California There? — Dr. C. Parr Rosson, Texas A&M professor will discuss exports of U.S. and California ag products into Cuba.

2 p.m. - Hay & Forage Seminar

Are You Ready for Roundup Ready Alfalfa? The New Genetics and the Future of Forages —  University of California, Davis forage specialist Dan Putnam will talk about new genetic traits beyond Roundup Ready alfalfa.

3 p.m. - International Trade Seminar

Trade Barriers & Free Trade Agreements: Leveling the Playing Field for U.S. Producers — U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Islam Siddiqui has been invited to discuss whether Congress will enact Korea, Panama and Colombia free trade agreements and other international market access issues.

3 p.m. - World Ag Women- World Ag Women Pavilion

Western Wear Fashions — Western wear fashions modeled by World Ag Expo volunteers.

Seminar schedule Feb. 9

Wednesday, Feb. 9

9:30 a.m. - General Agriculture Issues Seminar

Air Quality Regulations: How Will My Operations be Impacted? — Sayed Sadredin, executive of the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, and Brad Miller, president of Environmental Concepts Company in Mission Viejo will detail the impact of AB-32, California’s greenhouse gasses law.

10 a.m. - Beef Seminar

Taking it to the Street.BEEF magazine blogger and BEEF Daily editor Amanda (Nolz) Radke will challenge beef producers to speak out about the positives of beef.

10:15 a.m. - World Ag Women Event, World Ag Women Pavilion

Fire Prevention Safety TipsPatrick Marquez of the Tulare Fire Department will discuss fire prevention.

10:45 a.m. - Dairy Profit Seminar

Focusing on Milk Quality: Goals in a Global Marketplace — Are U.S. dairy producers ready to meet the global demand for milk quality? — Panelists Nicole Ekblom, DVM Atwater-Merced Veterinary Clinic; Shawna Morris, vice president trade policy, U.S. Dairy Export Council; and dairy producer Chris Jongsma will looks at the future of milk quality from different industry perspectives.

11 a.m. - Beef Seminar

What Is the Model for Beef Industry Sustainability? Is the liquidation of the nation’s cowherd a short-term event or a long-term trend? — Wes Ishmael, BEEF magazine Cattle Economics columnist, will look at smaller herd size due to higher feed costs and the a long term trend toward fewer producers and cattle and more industry concentration

11 a.m. - General Agriculture Issues Seminar

Local and Regional Water Supply Conditions and Outlook — Friant Water Authority General Manager Ron Jacobsma will discuss the outlook for surface water deliveries, the impact of the San Joaquin River settlement on and the potential of the Temperance Flat Reservoir. Mark Larsen, general manager of Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, will discuss the relationship of surface water deliveries and groundwater availability.

11 a.m. - World Ag Women Event, World Ag Women Pavilion

Culinary DelightsChefs Jeff Riggs of the Tulare Adult School culinary program, Anthony Hagans of Harris Ranch in Coalinga, George Quilty of Orange Blossom Junction in Exeter, Christian Raia from the West Hills College culinary program and Mike Vejar of Mikey V’s Café in Tulare.

12:15 p.m. Dairy Seminar Lunch Speaker

Food Economics and Consumer Choice: A Call to Action! — Rob Aukerman, president U.S. operations, Elanco Animal Health.

12:30 p.m. - General Agriculture Issues Seminar

Buy Local: Boon or Boondoggle? — Hear the challenges facing the growing nationwide “locavore” trend.

1 p.m. - Beef Seminar

Tax Strategies for Beef Producers — CPA Robert A. Gunther from Little Rock, Ark., will detail how corporate structuring options for beef producers.

1:15 p.m. - Dairy Profit Seminar

Surviving Milk Price Wars: How Can Dairies Make a Profit? — A panel of financial experts from Genske, Mulder & Co. will discuss, economic and financial conditions facing the dairy industry.

2 p.m. - General Agriculture Issue Seminar

Labor Laws and Immigration: How Will OSHA, DHS, ICE and Card Check affect your bottom line? — C. Bryan Little, chief operating officer of Farm Employers Labor Service and Fresno labor law attorney Ron Barsamian will discuss labor compliance and management practices.

6:30 p.m. Evening Entertainment, Entertainment Pavilion (Southwest corner of the grounds, outside of West Gate 1) The trio Stealing Angels will open for Grammy nominee David Nail.

Seminar schedule, Feb. 10

Thursday Feb. 10

9 a.m. - Safety and Advocacy Seminars

Labor Law Compliance for Farmers and Dealing with Enforcers — Farm Employers Labor Service’s Bryan Little and attorney Ron Barsamia will discuss compliance with state and federal labor laws.

10 a.m. - Irrigation seminar

Drip Irrigation and Water Savings: Hype Versus Reality — Mark Hewitt of Rain Bird will look at drip irrigation’s impact on water efficiency, yield and crop quality. The Irrigation Association is sponsoring the irrigation seminars at World Ag Expo.

10:15 a.m. - Safety and Advocacy Seminar

Agricultural Equipment SafetyFarm Employers Labor Service representative John Barrientos will detail common hazards associated with mobile farm equipment and how to train workers to operate equipment safely.

10:15 a.m. - World Ag Women Event, World Ag Women Pavilion

Nutrition and Wellness — Presented by Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare, the program will include diet and exercise information.

10:30 a.m. - Irrigation Seminar
Grower Success Using Subsurface Drip Irrigation — Inge Bisconer of Toro Micro-Irrigation will discuss alfalfa, corn and cotton production using subsurface drip irrigation.

10:45 a.m. - Dairy Profit Seminar

The Skinny on Fatty Acids: Beyond Energy to Boost Your Bottom Line — Nutritionist Jim Tully of Pine Creek Nutrition will help dairymen Increase their understanding of individual fatty acids on rumen function and reproduction.

11 a.m. - World Ag Women Event, World Ag Women Pavilion

Valley Chefs in the KitchenChefs Kim Payne of Valhalla Restaurant in Visalia, Leilani Shimizu of Irwin Street Inn in Hanford, Shelly Wade of Gourmet Desserts and Wedding Cakes in Visalia and Jonathan Evans of Jonathan’s Mesquite Grill in Kingsburg will be in the kitchen.

11 a.m. - Irrigation Seminars

It’s Time for Efficient Watering Systems — Van Bagdasarian of Grundfos will discuss increasing pump efficiency by ordering a pump test.

11:30 a.m. Irrigation Seminars

Filter Efficiency Translates to Water and Energy Savings — Randy Delenikos from Lakos will explain that the focus of an evaluating filtration systems.

11:30 a.m. - Safety and Advocacy Seminar

Keep On Trucking — Cynthia Cory, CFBF’s director of environmental affairs, will provide an update on California Air Resources Board’s diesel truck rules.

11:45 a.m. - Dairy Profit Seminar

2011 Outstanding Dairy Industry Service Awards — Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager, Milk Producers Council and Syp Vander Dussen, MPC president

12:15 Dairy Seminar Lunch

How Do You Do It? – The Next Generation Takes Over the Family Dairy — Panelists will share how their families have transitioned dairy management from one generation to the next. Caroline Berry, founder of Next Step, will moderate. Panelists will be Ben and Ken Curti, Lori Sousa Cardoza and Carl Sousa and Jody Graves.

Noon - Irrigation Seminars

Using Technology to Improve Irrigation Scheduling — Lanny Sowell from Irrometer

12:30 p.m. - Irrigation Seminars
Simplified Irrigation Management - Monitoring Soil Tension in Real Time — Jeremy Otto of Hortau will discuss managing inputs like as water, fertilizer and pesticides to increase productivity.

12:45 p.m. - Safety and Advocacy Seminar
The Farm Bill and its impact on California Farmers — Josh Rolph, Director, International Trade, Farm Policy, Taxation & Plant Health and Elisa Noble, Director – Natural Resources & Public Lands will cover current farm bill provisions and look at what farmer can expect from the 2012 farm bill.

1 p.m. - Irrigation Seminars

On-Farm Strategies for Deficit Irrigation to Maximize Operational Profit Potential — Stephen Smith of Regenesis Management Group will show that successful farming operations can continue when farmer sells or leases a portion of his land’s water supply to a municipal or environmental interest.

1:30 p.m. - Irrigation Seminars

Turning Waste into Revenue: The Role of Center Pivot Irrigation Solutions for Distributing Process Water and other Alternative Sources — Learn how to turn into an agricultural irrigation resource.

2 p.m. - Irrigation Seminars

Overhead, Mechanized Precision Irrigation: A Growing Revolution for California Agricultural Water Management — Jeff Mitchell of UC Davis will explain why overhead center pivot and linear irrigation systems are being reintroduced in California’s Central Valley.

2 p.m.- Safety and Advocacy Seminar

What’s in Store with the New Congress and How Will Changes Affect California Agriculture? — CFBF’s Manager of National Affairs Jack King will explore the direction of the new Congress.

2:30 p.m. - Irrigation Seminar

Precision Irrigation with Valley Variable Rate Irrigation — Jake LaRue of Valmont will discuss how variable rate irrigation lowers production costs and potentially increases profits.

2:30 p.m. - World Ag Women Event, World Ag Women Pavilion

Dessert Social — Cake and ice cream social donated by Wade and Evans.

hcline@farmpress.com