Farmers from several south Georgia counties heard about markets for their crops far beyond their local grocery store or roadside stand at the 2013 Georgia Ag Forecast Conference on Friday.
Researchers with the University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development spoke with farmers about export markets in North America and beyond. Speakers said one of the biggest challenges is perception.
"Many farmers think their operation is not large enough to export," explained Kathe Falls of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "Statewide, more than 50 percent of the ones exporting with us now have fewer than 19 employees. And what they find is exporting to several countries helps them because problems in one country's market can be offset by good sales in other counties."
"There are developing countries where the demand for better food is increasing," stated Dr. Scott Angle, dean of UGA's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. "America is positioned to be able to supply that food, especially in the Southeast. Georgia is the largest Southeastern state so we're poised to do the best job. We can look at it as an economic opportunity as well as a moral obligation to feed a hungry world."
Organizers hosted six conferences around the state with 860 farmers participating.