Growers Pack Southeast Grower Conference

SAVANNAH, GA – A large number of growers, shippers, marketers and other allied industry people converged in Savannah, GA, providing another year of strong attendance for the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

The Jan. 11-14 conference, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, also included educational sessions and a large trade show.

Co-sponsored by the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the Georgia Peach Council, the event attracted around 3,400 people, a little higher than last year’s 3,354 and close to the record 3,500 that jammed sessions and hallways in 2016, says Charles Hall, the LaGrange, GA-based association’s executive director.

“We have had a very successful conference,” he says. “We have had good attendance at the educational sessions, some of which were standing room only. Everything seems to be running well. This shows the industry is still good and strong as far as how it’s running and how things are going.”

At a Jan. 13 session, Rep. Rick Allen, a Republican congressman from Augusta, GA, listed immigration reform, trade and the farm bill as the biggest issues facing agriculture. “I want to thank you for all you do for this industry,” he says. “I grew up on a farm and know how difficult it is.”

Duke Lane III, a partner with Fort Valley, GA-based Genuine Georgia Group, says this year’s show was informative and tackled many topics. “It had good turnout and the educational sessions were really engaging,” he says. “There was a big agritourism component and food safety component. The show wasn’t only for traditional production agriculture.”

The show included grower-focused sessions on topics including business operations, food safety, drone precision agriculture, pest management, organic production, blueberries, cane berries, strawberries, peaches, watermelons, Vidalia onions, vegetables and muscadines. Around 250 allied industry companies exhibited at the sold-out trade show.