Every year, the southeastern fruit and vegetable industry starts a new year together at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference (SERFVC), and 2019 was no different. Thousands of growers, packers, shippers, industry leaders and educators gathered together in Savannah, Georgia, on Jan. 10–13 at one of the industry’s biggest regional events.
Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, says this annual event is great for the industry to mingle and learn about up-and-coming products, research and technology to improve their production practices.
DYNAMIC TRADE SHOW
One of the highlights of the SERFVC is the trade show. About 280 exhibitors displayed a variety of products, equipment and technologies for attendees to see. The trade show “allows for vendors to tell growers what they’re offering this year and help them make decisions as to whether it will help their farm operation,” Hall says.
Gary Black, Georgia’s commissioner of agriculture, was pleased with what he saw on the trade show floor. He echoes Hall’s comments regarding the importance of this event for the industry. “You certainly can’t make plans for the right direction in a new year without having a good place to meet with vendors and people to potentially do business with,” says Black. “There’s no better place to do that than right here at this trade show.”
Black adds that he is always proud to hold this conference in Savannah every year.
Another aspect of the SERFVC is the commodity conferences. Seminars cover a plethora of different crop sectors and topics, including vegetables, peaches, Vidalia onions, strawberries, blueberries, caneberries, watermelon, food safety, business operations and more. “Those educational sessions are to help growers learn more about different production practices and how they can improve growing fruits and vegetables,” Hall says.
Overall, the 2019 SERFVC saw success on the trade show floor and in the commodity conferences. According to Hall, close to 3,500 attendees came through the doors. “They came together, networked and learned. It’s a good opportunity for people to visit neighbors and visit friends they haven’t seen in a year and talk about what’s going to be happening in the industry for the next 12 months,” Hall says.
It’s no secret that growers in the southeastern region have been faced with their fair share of challenges in the past year, due largely to Mother Nature. However, Black says that although growers have reason for concern, they are focused on the year to come. “It’s a little hard on the surface to see some of the concerns that are deep within people right now,” he says. “But, despite all of our challenges, there is a sense of optimism and anticipation for what’s to come in 2019.”
The 2020 SERFVC will take place on Jan. 9–12 at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. For more information about the conference, visit SERegionalConference.org.
The VSCNews team returned to the SERFVC again this year and attended many of the educational sessions. Stay tuned to VSCNews.com for additional reports from the conference.
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