URBANDALE, Iowa - Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa will headline this year's Midwest Soybean Conference. Both will speak at the Opening Luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 10. The conference will be held Aug. 10-12, 2001, at the Marriott Hotel in Des Moines.

"I saw firsthand the tremendous opportunity that exists for soybean growers last November during a trade mission to Japan," Vilsack says. "The demand for organic soybeans is expected to increase 50 percent this year alone, while demand for non-biotech, conventionally-grown soybeans is expected to increase 15 to 20 percent. It is vital we coordinate our efforts at reaching that market potential to bring profitability back for U.S. farm families."

With Sen. Harkin's key involvement in the writing of a new Farm Bill, look for his remarks to focus on the wide range of issues he'd like the bill to cover - farm programs, conservation, bio-energy, agricultural trade, research, nutrition and rural economic development.

Also speaking at the Opening Luncheon of the conference is Merlin Olsen, who has been Pioneer's spokesperson for the past three years. One of the greatest linemen to ever play the game of football, he was the second player selected overall in the NFL draft of 1962, and became a charter member of the Los Angeles Rams' famed Fearsome Foursome.

Producers should plan to arrive early on Aug. 10 to get a grandstand seat for the Special Early Bird Session on financial risk management, which runs from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The session features Roy Ferguson, a certified management consultant and certified agricultural consultant who has served clients in 60 different types of industries, business and professions in 42 states, Canada and abroad.

Several blue-ribbon General Sessions await producers on Sat., Aug 11, including:

- Marketing expert Richard Brock, who will challenge producers to maximize their marketing profits, in spite of today's low prices.

- Political consultant Michael E. Dunn, with a session on "Power and Politics."

- Ag economists Dr. Mark Edelman and Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, who will engage in a debate about the current farm program and its future.

Sunday, Aug. 12, the Closing General Session features a biodiesel panel discussion, an informative discussion on soyfoods trends, and a motivational presentation by Jolene Brown.

For registration information, call the Iowa Soybean Association at 1 800-383-1423, or register online at www.iasoybeans.com. Registration fees are $75 for producers and $150 for non-producers; children ages 8-18 are $25. A one-day pass is available for $50.

Midwest Soybean Conference is hosted by the Iowa Soybean Association and is sponsored by American Agrisurance, Inc., Stine Seed Company, Pioneer, Monsanto, the United Soybean Board, and state soybean checkoff boards in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan. Soybean Digest is the official media sponsor of the conference.