Agriculture is South Carolina’s largest industry, and leaders in the industry have set an ambitious goal to increase the value of the agribusiness sector in the Palmetto State to $50 billion by the year 2020.
With that goal in mind, the SC AgriBiz and Farm Expo set for Jan. 11-12 at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, S.C. is designed for people from across South Carolina agriculture to come together, learn and explore ways to grow the industry.
“The SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo was established to serve as an umbrella event for all aspects of agriculture and agribusiness,” explains Jody Martin, executive director of the expo. “The event is designed to incorporate the industry’s deep traditional roots along with today’s thriving innovations to help streamline the promotion and the expansion of the business of agriculture in South Carolina and beyond.”
Figures from 2013 put the value of South Carolina agriculture at nearly $42 billion. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the Palmetto Agribusiness Council and the South Carolina Farm Bureau along with the South Carolina Forestry Commission and the South Carolina Forestry Association are promoting the “50 x 20” plan to increase the impact of South Carolina’s agribusiness cluster to $50 billion by 2020.
Martin said the expo is designed to help South Carolina reach that goal. It is designed to bring all people and all sector of agriculture together.
“The expo includes a farm show with a wide variety of equipment, farm products and educational components,” Martin says. “The SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo is an event representing all aspects of agriculture, both large and small. It features innovations in agricultural equipment, education, commodity spotlights, feedstocks, special guest speakers, economic developers, producers, value-added enterprises, youth development, related exhibits, agricultural activities and much more.”
Martin says a large variety of agribusiness companies, agencies and organizations will be exhibiting over the two days of the expo to share ideas to improve efficiency on the farm. Both indoor and outdoor exhibits will be part of the expo and several companies will also participate in the popular Optimization Clinics held both days.
An important event at the expo will be the Commissioner’s Breakfast where South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers will speak on the “State of South Carolina Agriculture” where he will highlight current trends and conditions in South Carolina agriculture.
The breakfast is slated for Thursday, Jan. 12 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tickets are $25 for individuals or $250 for a corporate table (eight seats). All proceeds from the breakfast benefit the Commissioner’s School for Agriculture.
One of the more popular parts of the expo is the “Taste of South Carolina” reception set for 6:30 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11. “Taste of South Carolina” is an invitation event with limited tickets for $25.
“There is always a lot of great fun, food, beverage, entertainment and fellowship with the entire South Carolina agribusiness community,” Martin says. “The reception spotlights South Carolina agriculture and agribusiness as one voice. Invited guests include agriculture leaders and organizations, political leaders, commodity groups, commodity boards, exhibitors, farmers and additional special guests.”
For the third year, the South Carolina Chef Ambassador Program will be a part of the Taste of South Carolina. “The chef ambassadors serve for one year and attend events around the state to perform cooking demonstrations, conduct educational discussions on healthy eating for children, and promote South Carolina staples in agriculture and tourism. We look forward to an outstanding Taste spotlight from the finest chefs showcasing foods produced in South Carolina.”
Food tuck vendors will also be on hand for breakfast and dinner both days of the expo. Martin says the food trucks will offer barbecue, cheeseburgers, chicken gyros, shrimp Philly cheese subs, donuts, salads and other offerings.
Martin says youth are an important focus of the expo with the 2017 SC AgriBiz Youth Day sponsored by South Carolina FFA Association set for Wednesday, Jan. 11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day will focus on the FFA Statewide Tractor Operations and Safety CDE Contest.
“This event is for registered FFA participants but will be enjoyed by all spectators,” Martin said. “The SC FFA Association will also provide education classes for youth that will consist of proper introductions, speaking tips, your 30 second elevator speech and many more enlightening topics. Youth will have many opportunities to connect with all the agribusiness leaders.”
For more information on the SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo, access the website at http://www.scagribizexpo.com/.