FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Agriculture and farming are staples of the South Carolina economy, especially in the Pee Dee. In Florence, farmers are getting a hands-on look at new farming technology in an effort to court agribusiness to the area.
"The whole thing is about economic development," said Rodney Berry of Berry Promotions. "We've got the most fertile soil, the most workforce, it's time to take our place at the front of the line for agribusiness."
Berry and other agricultural leaders in the Pee Dee hosted the SC Agribiz & Farming Expo at the Florence Civic Center Thursday and Friday. Vendors and other businesses were able to set up shop and educate local farmers on some of the latest technology, as well as farming practices for higher yield and more efficient harvests.
But the other purpose of the expo is to court more agribusiness to the area. Produce distributors, equipment dealers, and processing plants can relocate to the area, and bring jobs and investment.
"One company basically takes processed flax," said Palmetto Consulting Solutions President Jody Martin. "They need 45,000 acres, and that will produce $20 million annually."
Through the expo, though, farmers find an added benefit. They're able to get a feel for the concerns of the customer, and how the product goes from the farm to their table.
"The consumer wants to know who's making their product, how is it made, and is it safe for them and their family," said Department of Agriculture Commission Hugh Weathers.