From the first Commodity Classic in 1996 through the upcoming 2022 event March 10-12 in New Orleans, one person, in particular, has been a constant guiding force for the annual agricultural trade show and educational event.
Peggy Findley, the show director for the past 26 years, has announced that she will be retiring later this year, once her replacement is hired and the transition of duties for managing the 2023 event in Orlando is complete. Commodity Classic is actively recruiting candidates for the position at commodityclassic.com/join-the-classic-team.
Findley was hired to help the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association combine forces to hold their annual meetings jointly, which they began doing in 1996 under the umbrella of “Commodity Classic” in Phoenix. “They were looking for someone with experience managing a joint convention,” she recalls, “someone who could help people understand other people’s point of view and work together.”
It probably didn’t hurt that she was a strong personality brimming with confidence. “I called them up and said ‘I know you’re having a hard time finding the right person. Well, you can stop looking, because I’m the perfect candidate,’” she says, laughing.
Bill Schuermann, ASA executive director for industry and state relations, says she was right. “The Classic experience wouldn’t be what it is today without Peggy,” he says. “She has been there from the beginning. Her energy and her ability to work with different farmers’ committees, the associations and all the exhibitors and other stakeholders and contractors are remarkable. We’ll miss her.”
Findley says she’s proud to have helped ASA and NCGA transition to a joint event that has become America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural & educational experience. After first working on Commodity Classic as NCGA director of meetings and conventions, in 1999 she started her own company, Strategic Resource Services Inc. in High Ridge, Missouri, and has had the Commodity Classic contract ever since.
In a quarter-century of events in 14 different host cities, the number of farmers registered for Commodity Classic has nearly tripled. The number of exhibiting companies has grown from just under 150 in 1996 to more than 400 in recent years. Over time, three more major associations joined ASA and NCGA in making the Commodity Classic their official trade show and convention: the National Association of Wheat Growers (2007), National Sorghum Producers (2009) and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (2016.)
Findley credits wise direction from the farmer committee, whose guidance enabled the strong team of association staff and contractors “to grow the show and make the Commodity Classic the success it is today.
“I feel very privileged to have been trusted and respected,” she says of her role with Commodity Classic. “I appreciate that they've given me the honor to represent them and be a part of the show.” She says she’s looking forward to slowing down a bit and spending time at home and traveling with her husband, who is recently retired “and loving it.”
The 2022 Commodity Classic will be held Thursday, March 10, through Saturday, March 12, in New Orleans. This year’s theme is “The Future Is In Your Hands.” More than 50 educational sessions are on the schedule, covering a wide range of important topics including soil health, marketing strategies, increasing yield, creating efficient workflows, weather trends, ag technology and tactics to increase profitability.
A full schedule of events is available at CommodityClassic.com.
Commodity Classic is hard at work ensuring that this year’s show will be a fun and safe event that complies with Covid-19 guidelines. Masks are currently required in all indoor spaces in New Orleans, and proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test will be required for entry. Commodity Classic is finalizing on-site testing and vaccination verification plans to make complying with local and state Covid-19 mandates as quick and easy as possible. Visit CommodityClassic.com/health-safety for the latest health and safety updates.
Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience. It is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.