S.C. AgriBiz & Farm Expo opens today at the Florence Center

Bobby O’Neal helps unload Thomas Jeffords' two antique John Deere tractors outside the Florence Center for the S.C. Abribiz & Farm Expo. The two were able to get the tractors unloaded just ahead rain that blew through the Pee Dee later Tuesday afternoon.

FLORENCE, S.C. – The SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo begins Wednesday at the Florence Center.

The two-day event is expected to draw thousands of farmers and agribiz industry people from all over South Carolina and neighboring states. It begins with the Farmer Appreciation Breakfast at 8:30 a.m., followed a keynote speaker.

The Florence Center is at 3300 W. Radio Drive in Florence.

On Tuesday vendors were setting up for the trade show that begins at 10 a.m.

Doug Summerford, a Realtor, was setting up for Fellowship of Christian Farmers International organization on Tuesday. The organization is noted for its “walking sticks” with Bible verses on them, which it hands out at the expo.

“We give out more than 1,000 every year,” Summerford said.

He said people come by purposefully to get a walking stick.

“A friend of mine makes them,” he said.  He said they always run out, and this year he has added yard sticks to the mix.

The organization was founded in 1983.

Jason Stone, who is in outside sales with Sparrow and Kennedy Tractor Company, has partnered with John Deere to bring tractor equipment to the expo worth about $750,000. Stone said he has been coming for about as long as the show has been running. He said he gets business from being at the event.

This year he will showcase a 5100E cab tractor, an 835R cab gator, a 325G skidsteer loader, an 8270R tractor, a 5045E tractor, and others.

The Produce Safety Team for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture was setting up on Tuesday. The team will be promoting produce safety and answering questions about the new FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

“It is the first federally mandated law in 70 years for produce farmers,” said Brooke Horton, a member of the team. “We do the outreach to make sure they (farmers) are prepared for the new law.”

James Brunson and Mike Ney with the South Carolina Forestry Commission will be at the event to talk with farmers and guests about fire prevention, forestry management, controlled burning and other topics.

This will be Mark and Renee McGrady’s first time as vendors. They have attended others.

His company, Colorscapes Supply Company, is a distributor for Daddy Pete’s Plant Pleaser, MicroLife Organic Biological Fertilizers and Nelson Plant Food.

“We are a small sales distribution company,” he said. “We hope to get some exposure from being here.” They are from Lexington.

Aaron Bodenhamer and Louie Bodenhamer with Bodenhamer Farms and Nursery in North Carolina deal in baby longleaf pine seedlings and were anticipating the two-day event.

“It is a good show for us,” said Chris Miller with Farm Bureau as he set up a display on Tuesday.

Dave Teague of H & H Farm Machine Company in Monroe, North Carolina, said he has been attending the event for many years.

“I am starting to see a little return from this show,” he said. “It is coming back to us.”

In addition to the trade show, there are five educational tracks with speakers talking about forestry, the poultry industry, fruits, vegetables and alternatives, women in agriculture and one of the state’s newest crops, hemp.

Jody Martin, executive director of the expo, said speakers will be on hand to showcase what’s innovative in the farming industry. Farmers will be able to learn from experts in their field of interest.

Educational tracks are “Carolina Hemp Conference,” “Fruit, Veggies and Alternative Tracks,” “Forestry Track,” “Women in Agriculture Track,” and “Youth Day Track.”

Thursday will include “CAMM Conference,” “Carolina Hemp Conference,” and “Fruit, Veggies and Alternative Tracks.”

Admission is free to all events except the Taste of South Carolina (Wednesday night) and the Commissioner’s Breakfast (Thursday).

For more information on the AgriBiz & Farm Expo, visit SCAgriBizExpo.com.

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