OMAHA (DTN) -- Commodity Classic -- the annual farm conference for corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum growers -- announced early Friday the event in 2021 will be virtual.
Classic, typically held in late February and early March, was slated to return to San Antonio, Texas, for 2021. Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, a digital conference format will be offered in the first week of March, the group organizers announced.
"This is about doing the right thing for our farmers, exhibitors, stakeholders and the broader community in terms of health and safety—which is our top priority," said Anthony Bush, an Ohio corn farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic representing the National Corn Growers Association. "After careful deliberation among our farmer-leaders and industry partners, the COVID-19 restrictions would prevent us from delivering the type of high-quality experience Commodity Classic attendees and exhibitors have come to expect and enjoy for the past 25 years."
Started in 1996, Commodity Classic is a major draw for farmers both in the U.S. and internationally. Last year, total attendance was 9,335 people, of which 4,669 of those in attendance were listed as farmers. The conference is run by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
The commodity organizations typically hold their board meetings and set policies at Classic.
A big driver for converting to a virtual format was that health measures because of the pandemic would have prevented Commodity Classic from holding the traditional trade show and educational sessions.
"Farmers and agribusiness companies rate Commodity Classic highly because of its unique energy, excitement and one-on-one engagement with agribusiness companies and fellow farmers," said Brad Doyle, an Arkansas farmer and co-chair of 2021 Commodity Classic, representing the American Soybean Association. "The health and safety restrictions required will simply not allow us to provide a productive in-person event that is in keeping with our 25 years of being the nation's best farmer-led, farmer-focused ag experience."
Commodity Classic is among a string of major winter agricultural conferences that have shifted to on-line events or delayed their conference start dates. DTN's annual Ag Summit, Dec. 7-9, also will be a virtual event in 2020. Information about that event can be found here https://bit.ly/…
The American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in mid-January also will be virtual. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association announced earlier this week the Cattle Industry Convention will now be held Aug. 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn., moving from its traditional February dates.
Bexar County, Texas, home to San Antonio, has recorded more than 65,000 cases of COVID-19, including more than 5,000 new cases in the past two weeks.
Classic organizers are now looking at the 2021 transition as a way to connect with farmers who have never attended Commodity Classic. The on-line event will include both educational sessions and presentations from thought leaders in agriculture, organizers said. "We are already exploring ways in which we can deliver high quality content in unique ways that allow farmers to get the information they seek from the experts they trust," Bush said.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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