Ag News

Pence encourages farmers in Sunbelt Expo speech

Vice President Mike Pence praised farmers for their perseverance in the wake of Hurricane Michael and said the federal government would provide assistance as farmers move to recover from the devastating storm that swept through the region on Oct. 10 and 11.

Pence’s speech highlighted the Willie B. Withers Luncheon on opening day of the 2018 Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition, which drew a three-day attendance of 62,000. The Expo featured 1,217 exhibitors and celebrated Spotlight State Kentucky.

Moultrie’s Spence Field, home of the Sunbelt Expo, was in the path of the storm, but sustained minimal damage, allowing the annual show to go on.“I want to assure all of you, our administration will continue unrelenting effort to deploy manpower and resources of the federal government to this region and these communities until we come all the way back,” Pence said. “The spirit of the people of this region, the strength of the people of Georgia is inspiring America. It truly is.”

“I know the character of American agriculture, so I cannot say that I’m surprised that you are all here and that  you’re with one another, because I know the strength and character and resilience people have in agriculture,” Pence said. “I also know what it means to be together, and what a blessing it must be for some of you from the hardest-hit areas to be here among friends and to be able to be encouraged and supported, and to know beyond that you’re being grateful. In the farmer we see characteristics and qualities that really have always made America great. You see faith, you see hard work, you see character, you see resilience. You see everything that I’m seeing today.”

Georgia Farm Bureau held a voting pledge drive to encourage farmers to vote in the Nov. 6 elections. In the Georgia Agriculture Building, GFB had visitors sign the I farm. I vote. pledge banner and handed out information cards and stickers.

The Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company had a representative available at Sunbelt to take hurricane-related damage claims and answer questions about the claims process.

GFB staff handed out peanuts and hand towels, which came in handy with the unseasonably hot weather.

South Carolina cattleman Kevin Yon was named the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year during the luncheon. Yon, from Ridge Spring, South Carolina, raises purebred Angus beef cattle.

James Vaughn of Monroe County was recognized as the Georgia Sunbelt Farmer of the Year during the ceremony.

“There’s no doubt the storm had an impact on the show as around 20 vendors were unable to attend, many large school groups and other travel groups canceled their trips, and farmers and families were unable to travel due to the storm,” said Sunbelt spokeswoman Becca Turner.  “However, we’ve had great feedback from vendors that were here – many have said that even though attendance numbers were down, the quality of visitors was much greater.  In addition, we were able to put on a great show in honor of the resilient American farmer.”

Spotlight State Kentucky placed an emphasis on education with its exhibit. This included the display of one of three Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) mobile science classrooms, in which visitors could participate in ag-based science lessons. KDA also staged a farm safety demonstration with demonstrations on tractor rollover safety and grain bin accident prevention and extraction.

Using a dummy mounted on a cab-less tractor, the demonstration showed how using a seatbelt and a roll bar can minimize the risk of crush injuries in tractor rollover accidents.

In the grain bin demonstration, KDA’s Dale Dobson emphasized that individuals entering grain bins should always use a rope and harness. Using a miniature grain bin and a doll, he showed how quickly a person can become entrapped in the bin, and then demonstrated the use of a barrier tube to surround the person allowing rescuers to dig them out.

The Sunbelt field demonstrations included a precision sprayer implement by Blue River Technology, a subsidiary of John Deere. The 12-row implement uses cameras and 240 ink-jet style sprayers to target individual plants for application of chemicals. According to Blue River Rep Eric Ehn, the sprayer, originally developed for use in California’s lettuce fields, can reduce chemical use and spray drift by 90 percent.

For photos from Sunbelt, visit