February 6, 2002 | By: Laura Skillman

Educational opportunities and the ability to socialize with colleagues draws farmers to the annual Ag Expo sponsored by the Daviess County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Grain Day Inc.

Phil Beyke, president of Grain Day Inc. which oversees the Expo, has been helping for 27 years.

"The programs are extremely important, but I think what's more important is the social event it has created," he said. "Everyone looks forward to Grain Day, (now called Ag Expo). The camaraderie and getting together is important and something farmers probably don't do enough. Farmers often feel so busy they do not think there is enough time to do anything."

This year's event attracted between 800 and 1,000 farmers to the Owensboro Executive Inn on Jan. 30 to hear topics related to grain marketing, production issues, legislative issues, an update of the farm bill, environmental issues and new crop development.

In addition, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr., was the luncheon keynote speaker. Todd praised the farmers for attending the educational program, and discussed with them some of his vision for the University.

Ag Expo was the vision of Tom Curtsinger, retired Daviess County extension agent for agriculture, who started the event 28 years ago as a means of providing a variety of information for his farmers at one meeting instead of multiple ones.

The event was originally aimed at farmers from one county, but today attracts them from nearly a dozen counties in west Kentucky and southern Indiana.

"It started little, it didn't start big," he said.

Since beginning 28 years ago, the program has outgrown several locations but continues to emphasize education. Initially, discussions were related to grain production and the event was called Grain Day.

"It used to be my brothers and I would go get the Kentucky Fried Chicken in the back of dad's station wagon to feed everyone," said Beyke, a Whitesville farmer.

It has expanded into other educational areas such as policy issues, alternative crops, and maintains a focus on grain production and marketing.

"We think there continues to be a need even though farmers have lots of ways to get information. It is still important for them to come together and learn with each other," said Wayne Mattingly, Daviess County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

The committee that puts together the annual event is comprised of farmers, farm business people, and agents from UK and Purdue University.

"From beginning to end this has been a farmer developed program," Mattingly said.

That is what he considers the secret to its continued success.

"Farmers from 10 counties are here today to get educated and to have the opportunity to visit with each other and those in the commercial trade," he said.

A total of 75 booths representing all kinds of agricultural services were also on hand for the event.

As soon as the program ends, the committee begins working on next year's event.

Beyke said they have meetings throughout the year and anything that comes up, such as economic or production problems or legislative issues, are put on a list and they try to address them during the next program.

"It's an enjoyment," Beyke said. "I do it for Wayne and the educational program he's tried to develop and he can't do that on his own."


Wayne Mattingly, (270) 685-8480