Machinery Chatter
Russ Quinn DTN Staff Reporter

Wednesday 02/06/13

Ten Years of Covering NFMS

Next week I will be in Louisville, Ky., to wander the aisles of the 48th annual National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) held at the Kentucky Exposition Center. According the show's website, the show encompasses eight interconnected exhibit halls with more than 1.2 million square feet of indoor exhibit space that is home to more than 850 agricultural-related displays.

The 2012 National Farm Machinery Show was busy. Expect this year's to be the same. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

And I will not be there alone. Thousands of farmers, ranchers and even busloads of students will be traveling from across the nation (and even the world) to attend the show. The 2012 NFMS and Championship Tractor Pull attracted 305,512 people.

This year marks the tenth straight year that I have made the mid-February pilgrimage to Louisville for NFMS, much to the displeasure of my lovely wife as Valentine's Day often falls during this trip. Luckily, flowers can be purchased and delivered on the holiday.

In 2003 when I attended my first NFMS, the Kentucky Exposition Center was considerably smaller. Over the years the South Wing of the building has been added onto and now a walk from one end of the grounds to the other end is a pretty good jaunt.

You had better have a good pair of walking shoes to cover these grounds.

Other than the building being larger with more display area, there are other differences I have noticed over the years attending the show.

For starters what equipment is on display sometimes is different. Ten years ago any new product by the major equipment manufacturers was undoubtedly unveiled first at this show. While some of the "big boys" continue show off their new wares for the first time in Louisville, anymore new releases tend to be at the outdoor Farm Progress Show where farmers can see the tractor/combine/implement working in the field.

I can remember interviewing precision agriculture companies the first year I went to the show. There were just a few companies in the field back then and, of course, now there are many companies with different high tech products to help farmers be more efficient.

The other thing I have noticed over the years in Louisville is the farm machinery on display is moving toward extremes. Anyone in agriculture knows that farms are getting larger and thus equipment has also moved this way as well. Manufacturers also tend to bring the largest equipment to the show.

But farms are also getting smaller. Many of the displays at the show are geared toward smaller farmers -- what I guess some would call "hobby farms." This would include small tractors under 100 horsepower, implements such as manure spreaders which look like they been hit with a shrinking ray and smaller livestock-related equipment.

I once asked why this trend was so evident at the show and a Kentucky-based sales rep told me there are many smaller farmers in the state who work off the farm (like at the local coal mine) but also have a 20 cow/calf herd or have a few crop acres to supplement their incomes. This smaller farm machinery suits their needs, he said.

The one thing that hasn't changed in the years I have attended NFMS is the wide ranging items that are displayed in Louisville. Craft items, kitchen knives, machinery, parts and accessories -- you name it and if it is remotely related to agriculture, most likely it will be on display.

It may be there even if it isn't related to ag. I even bought my wife a pair of earrings in the Family Living Center of the show last year.

It was close to Valentine's Day after all.


Posted at 11:36AM CST 02/06/13 by Russ Quinn
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