Sunbelt showcases importance of agriculture

By Jim Zachary 

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is beyond impressive. 

The Expo returned in full force this year, and the only thing that outnumbered the imposing tractors and farm equipment was the crowd. 

Vendors were back and the agricultural community showed its appreciation. 

The economic impact of the marquee regional expo is undeniable. 

The mostly outdoor event was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year there was only a smattering of protective face coverings but the spacious venue does allow for ample social distancing. 

The Sunbelt Ag Expo, held each year at Spence Field in Moultrie, bills itself as “North America’s Premier Farm Show,” and with more than 1,200 exhibitors and thousands of attendees, it goes a long way toward living up to that billing. 

The 100-acre exhibit site sits up against a 600-acre working research farm. 

In addition to the most impressive display of tractors and farm equipment you are ever going to see, there are a wide array of educational demonstrations, and attendees can even visit fields where cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and hay are harvested. 

Of special note is a 36-foot mobile classroom — the Georgia Ag Experience — provided by the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture. 

The impressive mobile classroom, which was on display each day of the expo, travels around the state and is designed to teach elementary school students about the importance of agriculture, exposing them to the variety of Georgia’s agricultural commodities, in fun and interactive ways. 

The Foundation also provides scholarships to high school students interested in pursuing careers in agriculture. 

It is great to see this level of investment in the future of farming. 

The Foundation says the average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm. That can be a scary notion when you think about the fact that we all depend on agriculture for food, nutrition and clothing. 

All of us are deeply indebted to farmers who work hard everyday to keep us clothed and fed and the Sunbelt Ag Expo serves as a poignant reminder of just how much the agricultural community impacts our daily lives. 

Jim Zachary is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times, CNHI’s director of newsroom training and development and president emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. 

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