South Dakota hay growers Amy and Gary Freeburg wouldn't mind being a little hoarse at the end of next week. That would mean they accomplished what they set out to do when they signed up as part of a 10-person team staffing the National Hay Association (NHA) exhibit at World Dairy Expo. The show is scheduled for Oct. 4-8 at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI.

"Every year at World Dairy Expo is different," says Freeburg, noting that she and her husband, owners of Freeburg Hay in Gayville, SD, have been representing NHA at the expo every year since 1990. "Some years, you'll stand in the booth all day long and talk to just one or two people. Other years, people will start coming up as soon as the doors open in the morning (9 a.m.), and you'll keep talking all day long until things shut down at 5 p.m.

"With the hay supply situation the way it is throughout the country this year, I'm thinking this is going to be one of those years when we'll be plenty busy. People are going to want to source a supply as early as they can."

The sheer size of the show – attendance over a five-day period typically tops 65,000 –makes World Dairy Expo an excellent venue for promoting and marketing hay, says Freeburg. "Dairy producers from all over the country and all over the world come to this event. It gives us a great opportunity to get out more information about NHA and what the organization does."

On another level, taking part in the show gives the Freeburgs an opportunity to promote their own hay business. "The majority of the dairy producers who come to World Dairy Expo are from Wisconsin, Iowa, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Indiana and Pennsylvania – the states where we sell most of our hay," she says. "It gives us a chance to touch base with our existing customers and to develop some new customers as well."

Freeburg adds that the value of meeting with hay buyers face to face can't be overstated. "Sure, you can do a lot of business over the phone or with email. But there's nothing like interacting with people in person at a show like this. It takes marketing to another level entirely."

NHA is one of several major North American hay marketing organizations taking part in the trade show. Others include the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association, the Wyoming Business Council's Agribusiness Division and the Manitoba Forage Council.

To contact the Freeburgs, call 605-267-4426 or email freeburghay@iw.net. Visit the Freeburg Hay Web site.