Farm Progress Show will go on despite coronavirus pandemic

Donnelle Eller
Des Moines Register

Farm Progress Show organizers on June 17 announced plans to move ahead with its ag get-together this year near Boone despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The longtime annual show is an essential business event that provides farmers with needed information and tools, organizers said.

“We know that the market is dealing with a lot of issues,” said Matt Jungmann, the Farm Progress events manager. “But agriculture is a critical business for this country, and farmers are seeking ways to be better at what they do.”

The show, which attracts thousands of Iowa and U.S. farmers and dozens of ag companies, alternates each year between being held near Boone and Decatur, Illinois. It is scheduled to be held Sept. 1-3 and, in previous years, has drawn attendees from 45 countries.

The show, which calls itself the nation’s largest outdoor farm event, says it’s taking safety precautions, including providing additional space to allow for social distancing, numerous hand sanitizing stations, and enhancing efforts to clean buildings.

Farmers are struggling with low corn, soybean and other commodity prices, and need “more information and tools to boost profitability than ever before,” show officials said in a statement on June 17.

The World Pork Expo, held annually in Des Moines, has been canceled this year, the second time in two years. It was canceled last year because of concerns about the spread of African Swine Fever, a disease fatal to pigs that had spread in China and other countries.

Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus prompted the National Pork Producers Council to cancel this year’s event.

And the Iowa State Fair Board voted June 10 to cancel this year’s event amid continuing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the first time since World War II that a summer in Iowa will not include a State Fair.

Jungmann said the show has distinct differences from some other farm-related events that have been canceled.

The Farm Progress Show “is not the place you turn to get the latest deep-fried anything. We’re focused on providing a venue where farmers can see new tools, talk to industry experts and work to enhance the way they farm,” Jungmann said.