Annual Farming Event Sets the Stage for Agriculture in the Central Valley
Most of us living here know that agriculture forms the economic base in many Central Valley counties. Soon, the region will make farming the center of attention.
The annual World Ag Expo will be in Tulare County once again. Held during the second week of February, the Expo brings the best agriculture has to offer to the world stage that is the International Ag Center off highway 99 about fifty miles south of Fresno.
Vendors display agricultural products, explain services available to farm enterprises, show off the latest equipment, and celebrate the contributions of farmers to the world economy.
As I wrote several years ago in my book 9 From 99, Experiences in California’s Central Valley, City Managers in the state’s agricultural communities fully recognize the impact of farming and food processing.
At that time, one City Manager told me that farming establishes a steady base that communities can rely on in good years and bad. T
hat has been especially important during the recent recession when the Valley, as well as the state experienced severe unemployment and snail-paced economic growth.
Agriculture had its struggles with the recession, but it has helped many communities by providing that steady base of economic activity.
We saw just how important agriculture was during the past few years when drought focused more attention on the ever important resource of water.
The availability of water for agriculture has always been a challenge as government leaders attempt to balance the water needs for such urban areas as Los Angeles and San Francisco with the water needs of farmers in the Central Valley and other agricultural areas.
Shortly after arriving in the Central Valley a dozen years ago, I was told that to really appreciate the impact of agriculture from the Central Valley on the rest of the world, I would have to attend the World Ag Expo.
So I made it a top priority and visited the Expo grounds in 2006
According to the World Ag Expo website, over one hundred thousand people attend the show every year. There are sixteen hundred vendors.
The day I attended, the parking lot made we wonder whether all those people showed up on the same day and did not bother to carpool. Once on the grounds, I could only skim the surface of what was available to see.
In my three hours on the Expo grounds, I got a broad-brush painting of the significance of agriculture as a business and as a way of life.
There were displays of equipment that can perform all kinds of work out in the field. Mechanization has helped the farmer become more competitive by allowing machines to do the work that was done by hand just a few years ago.
Computers that manage such things as accounting, fertilization effectiveness, and production yields are commonplace as today’s farmer recognizes the necessity of technology in a competitive world market.
Other businesses that serve farmers understand the value of an agricultural enterprise as a source of economic benefit.
In my lifetime, I have been to countless county fairs. During my years as a chamber of commerce manager, I helped organize several agricultural showcase programs. But the World Ag Expo is in a class all by itself.
The Expo brings the world to the Central Valley to celebrate farming as a business and not just a way of life.
The Expo sets the stage for the upcoming natural showcase of agriculture in the Central Valley. Within weeks of the Expo’s conclusion, blossoms will begin to show up in the orchards.
Familiar sights when driving through area farmlands will include boxes of beehives as those bees pollinate certain crops. We will also view incredible swatches of wildflowers up and down the highways.
All of this and more make up the annual rites in the farm communities of the Central Valley.
The timing of the annual World Ag Expo could not be better. Coming just weeks after the holiday season, the winter doldrums end as tens of millions of dollars in farm equipment is placed on the Expo grounds.
Parking lot space is made ready for the thousands of vehicles that will embark upon Tulare County for the event. Well over one-hundred thousand visitors will come to Tulare County for the Expo.
All that excitement from the Ag Expo will be followed with some real live farm miracles taking place in local orchards and growing fields.
We have a lot to be happy about in the Central Valley. Spring is just around the corner.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced
He wrote about the International Ag Expo in his 2008 book 9 From 99: Experiences in California’s Central Valley.
For more on the World Ag Expo, visit WorldAgExpo.com