By Sean CW Korsgaard, Progress-Index
DINWIDDIE — The 2016 Virginia Ag Expo, held in Dinwiddie for the first time since 2008, brought in a large crowd to the state’s largest field day.
This year’s event, themed “Celebrating Southside Virginia’s Agricultural Diversity,” raised awareness of new agricultural tools and services with more than 150 exhibits at Double “B” Farms in Dinwiddie County, and brought a crowd of several hundred out to the event, among them Governor Terry Mcauliffe.
“As one of our largest private industries, Virginia’s agricultural sector is a key partner in our fight to curb pollution and improve water quality,” said McAuliffe. “I am proud of the strides we have made so far, and we will continue to work in partnership with the agricultural industry to grow this important sector while preserving and improving water resources that are essential to our economic future and quality of life.”
McAuliffe spoke early on at the event, discussing Virginia’s $61 million investment in agricultural best management practices, making him the first sitting Virginia governor to attend the event in nearly two decades. McAuliffe’s attendance was not the only good sign for the Ag Expo though, according to Brian Johnson, a field services director with Virginia Farm Bureau.
“I’m very impressed with the crowd turnout this year, and naturally am very happy to see so many farmers out browsing the wares,” said Johnson. “We’ve had a lot of rain and hear lately, but things let up for today, which is as good for the crowds as it is for the crops.”
It’s a showcase for some of the agricultural variation that Southside is capable of, when much of the region, including Dinwiddie, is still largely dependant on growing soybeans and tobacco.
Attendees not only browsed the exhibits, but took field tours of Double “B” Farms’ operations, as well as demonstration plots of peanuts, cotton, tobacco, grain sorghum, forages and cover crops. Attendees learned about nematode and weed control.
Equal parts agribusiness showcase and social event, Keith Tignor, who works with the Virginia Department of Agriculture as well as serving as a state authority on beekeeping, said events like Ag Expo are important not only for Virginia’s economy, but for the quality of life of residents in the Commonwealth.
“Agriculture is a vital part of our economy, and a vital part of our lives, and we’re all better off if local agriculture can be more productive and efficient,” said Tignor. “Here in Southside, we have everything we need for the land to be wonderfully productive, we just need to diversify what we grow.”
The Virginia Ag Expo is a joint project of the Virginia Grain Producers Association and the Virginia Soybean Association, in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension.