FARMER OF THE YEAR
Since its inception in 1990, the Sunbelt Expo’s Southeastern Farmer of the Year award program has evolved into the most prestigious honor in the southeast and nation with 286 outstanding agribusiness leaders being honored for excellence in agriculture. The goals and objectives for the award are: to reward a commitment to excellence in the agriculture industry; to reward efficiency in farming practices; to reward participation and leadership in community, state and national services; to reward sound management and financial practices; to reward plans for future development and changes; to reward sound environmental practices; and, to reward sound marketing and promotional practices. States that participate in the program include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In the previous 32 years of the award, over $1,284,000 has been awarded to state and overall winners. We are pleased to announce that Massey Ferguson, Harper Family Holdings, the Alabama Farmers Federation, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Florida Farm Bureau, Georgia Farm Bureau, Kentucky farm Bureau, Mississippi Farm Bureau, North Carolina Farm Bureau, South Carolina Farm Bureau, Tennessee Farm Bureau, and Virginia Farm Bureau have come onboard as sponsors of the 2023 award program. Cooperative sponsors include SE Farm Press/Farm Progress, Hays LTI and Reinke.
SEED TO SHIRT: 2022 SUNBELT AG EXPO COTTON TURNED T-SHIRT
Through a special partnership with Magnolia Loom, based in Sandersville, Georgia, attendees at the 45th Sunbelt Ag Expo will be able to purchase 100% cotton t-shirts made from cotton grown on the Darrell Williams Research Farm in 2022. Magnolia Loom brings to light the reality of producing a 100% Georgia-grown, USA-made cotton t-shirt. Even at that, the cotton and t-shirt never leave the Southeast (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina). We aren’t biased – these t-shirts are truly the most comfortable t-shirt we’ve ever worn and many have backed us up on that statement. There will be different designs to choose from when you purchase your 2023 Sunbelt Ag Expo cotton t-shirt, and it will be screen printed on-site. To learn more about the story, visit our website on the “Buy Merchandise” page or visit magnolialoom.com.
SPOTLIGHT STATE – ALABAMA
From the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the sugar-white beaches of the Gulf Coast, Alabama is a state rich in history, natural resources, and agricultural diversity. With everything from catfish to cotton and peanuts to poultry, the 22nd state is truly “Sweet Grown Alabama.” Farmers and forest landowners generate over $70 billion in economic impact each year and provide jobs for more than 500,000 of their fellow residents. These farm families are essential fibers in the fabric of their communities — nourishing the state through their values and leadership. The story of Alabama agriculture is one of innovation. In Tuskegee, George Washington Carver conducted peanut research on which crop diversification and agribusinesses were built. The tracks of modern farm equipment trace back to the National Soil Dynamics Lab in Auburn. Roots of the commercial fertilizer industry run along the Tennessee River in Muscle Shoals. And the genetic potential of plants to resist drought and disease is being unpacked at HudsonAlpha in Huntsville. As the only state with three land-grant universities, Alabama’s contributions to agriculture worldwide are vast. It’s only fitting that a state blessed with fertile soil and abundant water would yield such agricultural bounty. With more miles of inland waterways than any state and the third most timber acreage in the contiguous United States, Alabama showcases how farmers and nature work in harmony. Today, Alabama ranks second in the production of broiler chickens, catfish, and peanuts, as well as fifth in cotton. But the state is also known for specialty crops, including peaches, tomatoes, satsumas, and pecans. Discover the bounty of Alabama agriculture at SweetGrownAlabama.org and learn more about how farmers are sustaining for the future at DownToEarthAL.com. Make sure to stop by the Spotlight State – Alabama – this year!
ANTIQUE TRACTOR PULLS AT THE EXPO
The antique tractor parade is always a popular daily event at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. But, this year, the antique tractors are getting double time with the addition of the new Antique Tractor Pull. The pull will happen every day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Antique Tractor Pull is open to tractors manufactured in 1965 or earlier, and mini tractor pullers weighing between 950 and 1400 pounds, including lawnmowers and outlaw modifieds. We can’t wait to have you join us each day to watch the tractors show their strength and earn bragging rights. The event will be held where the Stock Dog trials were held.
GEORGIA GROWN MARKETPLACE
Georgia Grown has been coming to the Sunbelt Ag Expo for years to tell Expo-goers about their wonderful program. For the fourth year, Georgia Grown products will be showcased like never before. In the Georgia Grown Marketplace housed in the Family Living Building, attendees are sure to get a taste of the many wonderful products the state has to offer. From jellies to bedsheets, this corner of the expo has so much to offer. With Georgia Grown products located in one area, Expo-goers can easily get a better taste of Georgia and learn about many local producers. This year, we have Ivy Odom joining us on the stage to do some of her favorite cooking demos. Don’t miss it!
Our Backyard Garden at the Expo hosts exhibitors that are eager to teach attendees growing their own food. Flint River Fresh partners with the show to bring a space for backyard gardeners and small-scale farmers to learn ways to grow food for their communities. The hope is this information will be easily passed on by those who can attend. A few things that will be taught in the demonstration garden will include vegetable gardening, garden soils, honey bees, and weed control. New this year, the Southwest Georgia Beekeepers are joining the Backyard Garden and will have activities like honey tasting and photo-ops with Buzzy the Bee. These discussions will be supported by hands-on learning experiences in the garden. Fruit trees, vegetables and so much more can be found in the Flint River Fresh Backyard Garden. Also, cooking demos will be happening in the garden throughout the day!
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is proud to host professionals in the equine industry including Trevor Steed. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is not horsing around this year. When it comes to putting on a show, the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine and the Sunbelt Ag Expo know how to reign in the celebrities. Be sure to visit the demonstrations and the Sunbelt Expo Rodeo Queens and Princesses.
YOUTH CHALLENGES + ADVOCATING FOR AGRICULTURE + TRACTOR DRIVING
With a continuously evolving agriculture industry, we like to incorporate a little something for everyone, including our future ag enthusiasts. On Wednesday, October 18, Country Financial will sponsor the Youth Educational Challenges for students in 6th – 12th grade. In addition, Advocacy in Action hosted by Georgia Farm Bureau, will hold its final round of competition. Farm Credit will feature an Ag Mechanics contest. Awards will be given to winners in all contests. The Expo is also hosting the Georgia FFA State tractor competition and state land judging contest.
FOLLOW THE DIRT ROAD
The road at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is much like the yellow brick road, but ours is dirt and will take you to a variety of learning opportunities. We like to use the Expo grounds as a way for attendees to get back in the field and learn more about the latest technology in agriculture, and our hay and field demos are always a hit. Whether you are interested in hay, cotton or peanuts, let’s head out to the field and see the magic happen before our eyes! The tram ride out to the field is a fan favorite for both children and adults. You may come back a little dirty, but the pictures of your kiddos and learning opportunities are worth the trip down the dirt road!
SHOWCASING THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGIES
Technology is constantly evolving to become more efficient, and throughout history, people have been fascinated by it. In the 1960s, world fairs began popping up in cities all over America for visitors to come and see how technology has evolved for themselves. It was an exciting time in history to see how much progress humanity has made when dealing with new technology. To this day, our curiosity and drive to continue progressing with technology never slowed down and people still want to see for themselves. The Sunbelt Ag Expo has been known to showcase all new technology for guests to come visit and experience. This year is no exception. Bestway Ag and AgriSpray Drones will be doing demonstrations in the fields with their drone spraying system. These drones have been utilized on the Darrell Williams Research Farm to spray fungicides in corn and cotton. The drones featured are just a small part of the ever-growing interest for new technology in the field of agriculture. Be sure to see all of the new technology being demonstrated in the fields at the Expo. Farmers, producers, and consumers alike are eager to see new technology advancements, their capabilities, and how they will improve management practices overall.
HAY IS FOR HORSES (AND FOR JUDGING)
Some farmers grow corn, some grow cotton, and some grow hay. We have many that are proud of the hay that they grow, so we put their hay to the test to see who truly had the best. The Southeastern Hay Contest gives farmers a chance to showcase their high-quality hay for a chance to win great prizes and recognition. Contest winners will be announced Tuesday at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. The grand prize winner will receive a new Massey Ferguson RK Series Rotary Rake DM Series Professional Disc Mower for the 2023 season and $2,000 cash prize. Category sponsors include Agri-King, Athens Seed Co., Corteva Agriscience, Envu, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Pennington Seed, Coastal Seeds, Barenburg, Mayo Ag Services, R.W. Griffin Industries, Inc., and Southeast Agri Seeds.
WHAT’S COOKING AT EXPO?
Food is one thing that brings people together, so the Expo is proud to bring a variety of cooking demonstrations to the show year after year. This year’s show features Olivia Rader, executive chef for the Georgia Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, Clay Oliver, owner of Oliver Farms, Stripling’s General Store, and more. We will even have Ivy Odom with us on Tuesday to do a few of her favorite Southern dishes. Visit the Georgia Peanut Commission for a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the aquaculture area for delicious catfish recipes, and the multitude of food vendors on site. With a wide variety of cooking demonstrations and food trucks, we have you covered from breakfast to dinner, and all snacks in between.
RARE OPPORTUNITIES AT THE BEEF BARN
Whether you have a herd of beef cattle, or you just enjoy a nice steak dinner, the Expo offers a variety of seminars at the Beef Pavilion. The 45th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo will provide excellent opportunities for producers to build their knowledge and build their herd in return. A number of vendors will be present to answer questions regarding forages, reproduction, and nutrition. There will be hands-on demonstrations from the UGA Beef team to give you a snapshot into the Top Hand Stockmanship and Stewardship Contest that is now going into its third year. Furthermore, we will have Blue Ribbon Show Supply onsite and they are sponsoring youth fitting demonstrations each day. There will also be juniors on site with their junior show cattle projects to tell their story of being involved in the cattle industry in Georgia. Representatives from major animal health manufacturers of cattle vaccines, wormers, insecticides, identification tags, and antibiotics to answer questions and to offer suggestions for improving herd performance, no matter the size. Visit the Priefert booth next door for cattle handling demonstrations twice daily. There are so many rare opportunities in the beef barn.
FISHING AROUND THE EXPO
Our pond management and aquaponic seminars have become especially popular over the years. It allows Expo goers the opportunity to learn more about weed management, aquaculture and managing ponds for great fishing. The best part about fishing is always the meal afterwards, so we are here to help with all aspects including management, fileting, and the recipes for cooking. Everyone at the Expo is fishing around looking for the fried catfish samples.
Each year the Expo brings a crowd of people to the dairy barn for various events but one, in particular, is the Cow Milking Contest. Over the years, the Expo has had women in ag, commissioners of agriculture, Farm Bureau presidents, and even pageant queens participate. However, this year, the Expo is putting a spin on the Cow Milking Contest with state Ag Commissioners competing on Tuesday, high school students on Wednesday, and livestock exhibitors on Thursday. Contestants get to show off their skills at hand milking a cow. If you are looking for an “udderly” good time, be sure to stop by the dairy barn for some friendly competition.