For the first time in several years, farmers at this year's 44th World Ag Expo that begins Tuesday may be doing more than just kicking tractor tires. They could be in a buying mood.
A rebounding agricultural economy is providing some optimism to sellers of farm equipment and others who benefit from the expo — the largest show of its kind in the nation.
For three days, the event draws an estimated 100,000 visitors to the grounds of the International Agri-Center in Tulare.
And its effect on the community can be significant. Last year, about $280 million in sales was attributed to the expo, and the economic benefit to the San Joaquin Valley was estimated at $600 million, expo officials said.
Ag expo officials say those numbers may be lower than in previous years, but they don't know for certain. The last time the expo commissioned a study on the event's economic effect was 2004.
But they are hoping things will be better this year.
In California, an above-average snowpack has led to a larger allocation of water, export markets have improved, and prices paid to farmers have risen — making it a good year for growers of cotton, nuts and raisin grapes.
"The ag economy has been one of the few bright spots in a tough recession year," said Barry Bedwell, president of the Fresno-based California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
Agriculture trade show coordinators often say that as agriculture goes, so goes the farm show.
Already, the signs of an improved farm economy have provided positive results at the Colusa Farm Show in Northern California. Called the "Granddaddy of Farm Shows," it ran from Feb. 1-3. It's been held for 46 years, two years longer than the World Ag Expo in Tulare.
"We have had a very good year," said Carolan Ferreria Meek, CEO of the Colusa Farm Show. "And trust me, we hear it from the vendors if we don't."
Read more of this story at FresnoBee.com