By once again hosting a full trade show floor, informative breakout sessions and plenty of space for networking, it’s little wonder why the annual Wisconsin Corn·Soy Expo attracted a record number of attendees to the Kalahari Conference Center.
“Based on what I’ve seen and the feedback we’ve received, I think this was one of our best Corn·Soy Expos yet,” WSA President Sara Stelter said. “As an industry, we should be proud of what we accomplished this week.”
More than 1,300 farmers, stakeholders and industry leaders attended the two-day conference and trade show – an increase of a few hundred from the 2023 event. The expo, which unveiled a fresh look in 2024, is jointly hosted by WCGA, the Wisconsin Soybean Association and Wisconsin Pork Association and supported more than 20 industry sponsors. More than 120 agribusinesses exhibited at this year’s Wisconsin Corn·Soy Expo.
“It was another great event, very pleased with how it came about,” said WSA Steve Trzebiatowski, who is one of three WSA directors serving on the event’s planning committee. “There were lots of good interactions and responses from farmers and our vendors.”
The conference also showcased more than two dozen sessions and panels that provided growers and industry professionals with valuable resources – from economics to agronomy to mental health – to succeed in the year ahead. Once again, the Beer & Bull session, hosted by University of Wisconsin Extension Soybean Specialist Shawn Conley, was held to a standing-room only audience. On Thursday, WPA hosted its popular Porkapalooza. The live and silent auction funds from Porkapalooza help support youth and industry programs throughout Wisconsin.
During Friday’s Early-Riser session, Matt Bennett of AgMarket.net returned to offer his marketing advice for managing risks in a volatile, complex global agriculture market heading into the 2024 growing season.
“Be careful how you market this year’s crop. You’re going to have to be strategic. … We do have challenges in front of us,” Bennett said, citing China’s stagnant economy, Brazil’s soybean production and lower commodity prices, “but there are also lots of opportunities.”
Bennett added that producers should pay close attention to the continued growth of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. Soybean oil is the most common feedstock used in renewable diesel.
“That could be a huge boon for us,” he said. “You’re seeing massive growth for renewable diesel. It’s exciting and could precipitate a lot of demand.”
Bennett’s presentation was followed by a Farm Bill policy and legislative panel featuring Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who represents Wisconsin’s Third District and sits on the House Ag Committee, making him the first Wisconsin lawmaker in recent memory to sit on the influential committee. In his role, Van Orden and the Ag Committee held Farm Bill listening sessions in 48 states. Through his meetings with producers, Van Orden cited labor shortages, regulations and input costs and trade policy among the top issues facing agriculture in 2024.
“Ag is not just part of our economy (in Wisconsin), it’s part of our culture,” Rep. Van Orden said. “We haven’t been represented on the Ag Committee.”
Rep. Van Orden said his Republican colleagues are united in protecting crop insurance and hoped that his Democratic colleagues would work with committee leaders in good faith to pass a new Farm Bill.
“We understand how important these programs are,” he said. “Food should be nonpartisan.”
Van Orden was joined by officials from national corn, soy and pork advocacy groups. He encouraged the Expo audience to contact their elected officials in Washington, D.C., to help support agriculture and pass a new Farm Bill.
“Reach out and connect with them,” he said. “We’re the one industry that touches everyone.”
After the 2024 Corn·Soy Expo wrapped with an afternoon keynote from Rob Sharkey (aka the Shark Farmer), the show’s internal committee met to discuss ways to improve for 2025.