At 2020 expo, hemp will be a featured crop for the first time
By Kaitlin Washburn @kwashy12
TULARE COUNTY – Hemp, for the first time, will join the ranks of crops featured at the upcoming World Ag Expo in Tulare.
The popularity of hemp has grown since it was legalized federally as a part of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Hemp Education and Marketing Pavilion at the 2020 Ag Expo in February will feature seminars and exhibitors to teach interested farmers about how to enter the hemp marketplace.
“We are excited to see this new opportunity to enter the ag marketplace and bolster the economy,” Jennifer Fawkers, the marketing manager for the Ag Expo. “We want to make sure that farmers have the best information available to grow hemp so that it helps boost their farm rather than drag it down.”
Hemp is a relatively new crop, and not just for the agriculture industry. Counties, including Tulare, have placed moratoriums on growing the crop until they decide how to regulate it. Banks are also still determining how they’d like to handle accounts for farmers growing hemp, Fawkes said.
At last year’s expo, there were six seminars on industrial hemp, which focused on teaching farmers about hemp and how to get involved in the industry, Fawkes said. This is the first time that hemp will be featured as its own exhibit.
This year, expo attendees can learn about seed selection, hemp genetics, finances, hemp products and the greater hemp market. A 9,400-square foot tent will house 30 exhibitor spaces and a seminar stage on the south east side of the grounds at the show.
“Our goal is to start small this year with hemp,” Fawkes said. “We want farmers to be well educated and get really high quality information. So we are ensuring that people are being exposed to the best businesses and we’ll see how that goes and we can grow from there.”
While the focus of the hemp pavilion is on the ag side of hemp production, Fawkes said there will also be talks about the many products that can be made from hemp, like clothes or car parts.
The Ag Expo is working with Plant Growth Group, a consultant group in the hemp marketplace, to put together the hemp pavilion.
“We worked with show staff during the 2019 show to put on six hemp panels aimed at educating farmers on their options,” said Christian Gray, advisor at Plant Growth Group, in a news release announcing the pavilion. “The stands were packed at each session, so we knew World Ag Expo was the right place to talk to farmers about their hemp options, and make sure they know some of the pitfalls.”
Entering its 53rd year, the Ag Expo is the largest annual outdoor ag trade show in the world. In 2019, the show saw 102,800 attendees from 48 states and 65 countries. More than 1,400 exhibitors will fill the 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space next year.
General admission tickets are on sale online now, and attendees can plan their visit at www.worldagexpo.org. With a diverse lineup of agriculture companies and seminars covering international trade, irrigation, ag policy, hemp, and more, there is something for every ag professional at the 2020 World Ag Expo. The 53rd edition will run Tuesday, February 11 through Thursday, February 13, 2020 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California.