32nd annual Expo points out agriculture's importance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

32nd annual Expo points out agriculture's importance

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Agriculture is Georgia's largest industry, generating about $5.1 billion for the state's economy.

It's considered the foundation for the state's economic well-being and southwest Georgia's life blood. Organizers say that's why the Sunbelt Ag Expo is so important.

Sunbelt Ag Expo officials say they take the task of promoting agriculture very seriously. Relationships built at this year's Ag Expo could mean sales calls for many businesses all year long.

While the crowds may not have set a record this year, Sunbelt Ag Expo organizers say, it means something to just be maintaining in this tough economy. Danny Frye made the trip from South Carolina for what he calls the world's fair for farmers.

"It seems we're losing a lot of the emphasis on agriculture and it doesn't seem like so many people are interested in it anymore," said Frye.

"We take our responsibility very seriously to promote agriculture and to let the consumers know what the farmer's doing to continue to produce the safest most abundant most economical supply of food fiber and shelter in the world," said Sunbelt Ag Expo Exec. Diretcor Chip Blalock.

For large vendors like John Deere that keep coming back year after year, they can show the consumer just what their product can do.

"The fact that we get to run out in the cotton fields, there's no other farm show in the country that I know of where you can do that," said Dave Rodts, John Deere Project Manager. 

Even small vendors like J&M Enterprises have made international connection for their single row planter. "I had a gentleman here from Puerto Rico that's going to start selling them," said J&M Enterprises Owner Jim Meier. 

While consumers weren't necessarily buying, they're getting ideas.  "And a larger want list," said Frye.

That could lead to sales down the road.

Organizers are already looking to next year and say they plan to expand the area for backyard gardening after a terrific response.

They'll spend the next 50 weeks working to entice vendors to come back this year.

More than 1,200 vendors participated in this years expo. The three day event alone amounts to a $16 million impact on 20 south Georgia counties.

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