Ag News

2021 SE Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference goes virtual

Following an intensive study of the current COVID-19 conditions, including a staff tour of the Savannah Convention Center, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Board of Directors made the decision that the conference cannot be held with the COVID-19 protocols currently in place, in particular, the physical distancing requirements.

In a Sept. 21 email bulletin, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) Executive Director Charles Hall explained that based on the social distancing guidelines in the current Executive Order from Gov. Kemp, for conventions (meetings of over 100 people) and CDC recommendations the educational meeting rooms, the Exhibit Hall and lunch seating capacity would be reduced by 70% to 80%. For example, a regular education meeting room normally seating 101 people would be reduced to 19 people under social distancing guidelines. The dining hall for lunch normally seating 800+ people would be limited to only 240 people. With a normal attendance of 3,200 - 3,500 the social distancing requirements makes holding the conference a complete impossibility.

In his message to fruit and vegetable growers, Hall wrote, “While conditions may improve before January 2021, most epidemiology experts predict preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing requirements will continue well into 2021. Growers and industry suppliers look to the SE Regional to secure the latest educational and operational information to plan for the new year. In order to pivot and move to a virtual platform for the conference, time does not permit waiting any longer to consider what the Georgia COVID-19 conditions will be in January 2021.

Hall said the safety of SE Regional attendees and the general public is most important. Georgia has been a ‘hotspot’ for COVID over the past several months. Large gatherings of people, like the SE Regional Conference, is one of the leading causes for the spread of COVID-19. The bottom line is safety cannot be assured without compliance with the recommended guideline.

“While we are disappointed that we won’t be gathering in Savannah in January, we are excited we will continue to fulfill the SE Regional’s mission with a new and unique virtual format this year,” Hall said. “SE Regional, as the premier regional fruit and vegetable conference, will continue to offer the latest in grower educational sessions, industry supplier exhibits and networking opportunities.”

The GFVGA plans to release more information about participating in the 2021 Virtual Southeast Regional Conference.

For more information, contact the GFVGA at 706-845-8200.