When it was called the plain old California farm equipment show, organizers of what is now known as World Ag Expo used to say you could not see it all in three days, therefore, plan your visit to optimize the time available.

It would take two weeks to see everything and attend all the seminars, luncheons and breakfasts at the 36th annual World Ag Expo Feb. 11-13 at the International Agri-Center show grounds just off Highway 99 south of Tulare, Calif.

There are only eight hours on Tuesday and Wednesday and seven on Thursday to traverse the 2.1 million square feet of exhibit space housing 1,400 exhibitors.

Throw in attendance at one or two of the seminars offered and time will seem to disappear faster than the time it takes to get your rubber boots out of the pickup and head to the gates to pay the $7 each day to get in. There is a discount $18 three-day pass for those who want to try to see everything in three days.

Gates open at 9 a.m. each day. They close at 5 p.m. the first two days and at 4 p.m. the third day.

Things are getting so jammed, farm show week events at the show grounds begin on Monday this year featuring an environmental issues forum; the California World Ag Expo kickoff luncheon, with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Californian Ann Veneman invited and the Fourth Annual Women Leaders in Agriculture Conference.

Information booths

When the show officially opens on Tuesday, information booths will be manned by volunteers to help attendees find particular products or exhibitors.

Food booths on the grounds are operated by non-profit organizations.

The Tulare farm show likes to ballyhoo its international flavor, although the overwhelming majority of visitors are Californians with many farm visitors from other states.

The International Business Center, located on the top floor of the Heritage Complex on the show grounds, is the center of many import-export trade negotiations each year during World Ag Expo. There is a pool of 76 interpreters who translate into 17 languages, including sign language. In addition, export seminars from leading export professionals are presented there.

First opened for the 1992 show, the International Business Center is expecting to host representatives from 60 nations.

“To show our interest in connecting the agricultural community from around the world, we have created a professional environment, as well as a social one,” Dan Khal, World Ag Expo chairman says.

To that purpose, the John Deere Co. will host the annual reception for international visitors and exhibitors on Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m.

Seminar topics

There also will be a free series of export seminars aimed at helping farmers, ranchers and dairymen gain knowledge about doing business in the global market.

Seminar topics include resources to conduct international trade, exporting cotton, China as a market and competitor, U.S.-Cuba trade, south of the border trade and increasing profits while reducing costs.

“With the international market changing rapidly,” noted Khal, “We feel that one of our responsibilities, as the largest farm trade show in the world, is to keep our visitors informed. We have always recognized that doing business internationally is a key component of being successful in agriculture.”

World Ag Expo 2003 has once again been chosen to participate in the prestigious U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program.

Seminars are held in the 89-seat Wells Fargo Theatre of Heritage Complex on the International Agri-Center grounds.

The schedule of seminars is:

Tuesday, Feb. 11:

10 a.m. Let's Talk Trade! Resources to Help You Conduct International Trade — An introduction to international trade resources available from public and private sectors.

11 a.m. Trade opportunities with our neighbors to the south — Latin America.

Noon: Mexico and agricultural trade policy.

1 p.m. Exporting cotton under the new farm bill.

2 p.m. Cuba: A new export market for U.S. companies.

3 p.m. China as a market and competitor for California agriculture.

Wednesday, Feb. 12:

10 a.m. California raisins for Cuban cigars?

11 a.m. Wine and agricultural exporters.

1 p.m. Reduce cost and increase profits through exporting.

3 p.m. Global market for agricultural equipment and implications of trade promotion.

Thursday, Feb. 13:

10 a.m. - South of the border trade opportunities.

11:30 a.m. Getting your share of the international on-line marketplace.

12:30 p.m. Are you ready for China.

For those more interested in irrigating than exporting, there will be free irrigation seminars at Edison AgTAC, across form the farm show grounds.

These Seminars are coordinated with two top western agricultural universities. Attendees can see the latest technology on energy efficiency and tomato irrigation.

Following is the schedule of irrigation seminars:

Tuesday, Feb. 11:

8:30 — 11 a.m. and 1:30 — 4 p.m.: Saving energy and money on the farm presented by the Center for Irrigation Technology at CSU Fresno and sponsored by the California Energy Commission.

Wednesday, Feb. 12:

9 a.m.-Noon: Drip irrigation on canning tomatoes presented by the Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, sponsored by USBR and Mid-Pacific Region.

One of the luncheons at the show will feature Leon Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff, as the keynote speaker at the Ag Leadership Alumni Breakfast on the last day of the show.

And, there are even more events like the following:

Tuesday, Feb. 11:

10:30 a.m. - Prevention of ag terrorism. Speakers to include top state and federal officials.

11:15 a.m. - The economic effects of 9/11 on agriculture. Dr. Thomas L. Cox, professor of agricultural economics at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Noon — What's going on in the water world? Speakers: Bruce George, general manager of the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, and Dick Moss, consultant and former manager of the Friant Water Users Association.

Wednesday, Feb. 12:

7 a.m.- Ag Expo prayer breakfast at Heritage Complex.

7 a.m. to Noon: Tulare-Kings CAPCA meeting at the International Agri-Center Social Hall.

10 a.m. Land use planning for today's agriculture and growth. by Mike Chrisman, regional manager for Southern California Edison Co., rancher and former undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, with selected officials and agricultural planners.

Noon — What's the latest in the field of labor? Speakers: Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmer's League, and George Daniels, executive vice president of Farm Employers Labor Service.

1 p.m. - Air quality issues and regulations in the San Joaquin Valley and how they will affect you. Speaker: Roger Isom, executive vice president of the California Cotton Growers and Ginners Association.

2 p.m. Strategies for success in the changing California ag industry. Speaker: Vernon Crowder, Bank of America.

3 p.m. — Loss prevention and security featuring officials with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office and sheriff's department.

Thursday, Feb. 13:

10 a.m. - Employment Development Department seminar.

Back to the farm equipment show. The ride and drive area will again be featured.

There will be free parking around the show ground. Also, the popular and free park and ride shuttle service will operate from five locations; the Horizon Outlet Center (located at Highway 99 and Prosperity Avenue); the Tulare County Fairgrounds (at Bardsley and K streets); Mid-Valley Cotton Gin (at Highway 99 and Cartmill Avenue); the Tulare airport; and the Visalia Mall (Mooney Boulevard and Walnut Avenue). Attendees will be able to purchase admission tickets to Expo at the park and ride sites and therefore avoid standing in line.

RV parking is available on the showgrounds; cost is $7 per day, and there are no hook-ups.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com