The Global Connection
Producers from almost every sector of agriculture want to be globally competitive. But crossing international borders to conduct business and learn from others in similar operations is often met with obstacles.
"Research reveals that producers and other industry professionals really want more substantive discussions with industry leaders and want to learn more about how agriculture around the world will affect their businesses," says Charlie O'Brien, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), vice president, agricultural services.
To bring the world of ag together, AEM is debuting a new international agriculture event, AG CONNECT Expo in January 2010. The event will showcase the latest industry innovations, products, and technology and will also provide access to leading industry experts worldwide.
The show will help facilitate interaction and networking among North American and international visitors in three strategic ways.
1. Connect CafÃ©. A global networking lounge, the CafÃ© will be connected to the International Trade Center located on the show floor. When showgoers drop by, a host will facilitate matchmaking them with international producers who have similar interests.
2. Networking Zone. "What we're hearing is producers feel they get their best information from other producers. They want to talk to people in the U.S. and internationally," says Sara Truesdale Mooney, AG CONNECT Expo show director. After each educational session, an area will be set aside for expert speakers and all session attendees to gather together to allow continued dialogue. "Not only will participants have a chance to ask the speakers more questions, but also they'll be able to talk to other attendees of the session with similar interests," says Mooney.
3. Networking Night. On Thursday, January 14, 2010, attendees and exhibitors will have an opportunity to attend an exclusive event at Universal's Island of Adventure.
"It's a great way for exhibitors and attendees to interact in a more informal setting," says Mooney.
But melding showgoers from around the globe is just part of the goal of AG CONNECT event planners.
USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), through FAS's Office of Trade Programs, is helping promote AG CONNECT because it recognizes the show's potential to find long-term, innovative solutions to challenges ag producers and exporters face in the next decade.
The Expo has also gained selection to the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Buyer Program (IBP). Under IBP, the Department's U.S. Commercial Service recruits international attendees to the show and encourages at-show connections with exhibitors who sell to the global marketplace.
"Agriculture knows the importance of international markets, whether the issue is a successful conclusion to the Doha round of trade talks, support for agricultural exports, or the desire to produce more food and fiber in the most efficient manner," says O'Brien. "With the involvement of IBP, attendees and exhibitors at AG CONNECT Expo will benefit from potential trade leads and matchmaking opportunities, international insights into key ag issues, as well as the opportunity to learn different business practices in the context of a global agriculture trade show."