Verona, Italy - "Buon giorno…Fieragricola, per favore," I say to the cab driver, using up nearly all the Italian words I could think of in my jet lagged brain. "Si," he responded quickly, and off we went toward the fair grounds here on the outskirts of Verona, where Fieragricola is taking place this weekend.
Unlike some of the bigger indoor farm shows around the world, such as the National Farm Machinery Show later this month in Louisville, Ky., Fieragricola is flying under the radar. But the show has become ever more international through the years and this year will draw three times more international delegates than last year.
It's another telling statement about the globalization of food and agriculture, even here in the tradition-laden food culture of Italy. All the main players in the ag machinery world -John Deere, Same Deutz Fahr, Agco, Argo Tractors, New Holland, Case and Claas – are here for the first time.
This show is housed in several large exhibition halls, as well as outside areas dedicated to machinery performances. It also includes livestock, and, hopefully, lots and lots of free food samples.
The agricultural sector in Italy is coming off a rough year for farm income. In 2009 sales in Italy of harvesters and tractors fell rather significantly, while exports lost around 20% in volume. However, the mood is now upbeat. There are 1,321 exhibitors here, an increase of nearly 5% from last year, and 15% of those exhibitors are from outside the country.
I'll let you know what I learn about this show in the next few days.