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Saturday, February 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Ag Expo to feature old faces, new voices

Shown here on Monday, February 4, 2018, Greg Bingaman wipes down the giant wheels on a sprayer truck sold by Pioneer West at the Spokane Ag Expo and Farm Forum. This year’s forum kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at the Spokane Convention Center. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI / SR)
Shown here on Monday, February 4, 2018, Greg Bingaman wipes down the giant wheels on a sprayer truck sold by Pioneer West at the Spokane Ag Expo and Farm Forum. This year’s forum kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at the Spokane Convention Center. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI / SR)

Hundreds of farmers will plow into downtown Spokane this week to look at the latest equipment and get forecasts for everything from rainfall to economic markets at the Spokane Ag Expo and Farm Forum.

The show, which started in its current form in 1978, will again feature the weather predictions from Art Douglas, aka The Weatherman, who is a Creighton University professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences. He’s been giving weather predictions to Eastern Washington farmers for three decades.

Douglas, who accurately predicted most of the local weather patterns in 2019 despite limited information, is scheduled to give his weather forecast Tuesday, which is the first full day of the show at the Spokane Convention Center, show director Melisa Paul said.

Douglas “does a great job of holding up his crystal ball about what the weather is going to do,” Paul said. “He’ll be delivering his forecast and telling us whether we need to chop wood or whether it’s going to be a good season for us next year.”

Douglas will be followed Wednesday by the annual economic forecast by Randy Fortenbery, agriculture economist at Washington State University.

“He does a great job talking about the business side of economics for agriculture in our region,” Paul said.

Last year, Fortenbery correctly predicted that area farmers would struggle as a result of unstable markets brought on by President Donald Trump’s trade wars.

Another featured speaker this year is Rob Sharkey, who is co-founder of the Farm and Rural Ag Network podcast.

“He’s an advocate who has the thoughtful and difficult conversations with fellow producers … during a very uncertain time,” Paul said of Sharkey. “We have a lot of issues facing agriculture. He does a good job bringing light to the issues that face the farmer today.”

Sharkey is scheduled to give presentations each day of the event, which runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“We have more than 300 exhibitors, and the show is completely sold out,” she said. “We have a complete industry mix that includes everything from heavy equipment to agribusiness providers. We have representatives from banking to crop insurance to pole buildings.”

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