This year’s incarnation of a Northeastern growers’ show is bearing a new name and promises to tackle prominent industry issues bedeviling grower-shippers.

Scheduled for Jan. 21-24, the 2013 Empire State Producers Expo in Syracuse, N.Y., is receiving a new name and look and new industry participation.

Formerly called the New York Vegetable Expo, it’s billed as the largest gathering of New York fruit, vegetable and floral growers.

In August, the Macedon-based New York State Vegetable Growers Association, one of the show’s sponsors, decided to change the show’s name to reflect the broadened industry interest.


Beginning as the Vegetable Conference in 1960, over time, more groups joined.

Floral industry and direct marketing or roadside market trade groups recently came aboard so a name change was in order, said expo director Jeanette Marvin, the vegetable association’s executive secretary.

Marvin said the association is close to adding another industry group, which she in late December declined to state until the paperwork is completed, and said a couple of other groups plan to join in the coming years.

Increasing time demands on growers prompted the additions and Marvin said it makes sense for those groups to meet at the expo.

New York industry to discuss hot issuesThe program covers a wide variety of topics and commodities, including berries, tree fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, leeks and shallots, greenhouse vegetables and high tunnel greenhouse vegetable production.

It’s also scheduled to engage grower-shippers in key industry issues including food safety and labor.

The title of the Jan. 21 Becker Forum reveals industry sentiments on the labor issue: “Managing human resources in agriculture and creative steps when public policy fails.”

The all-day meeting is scheduled to address H-2A challenges and feature sessions about coping with fewer agricultural workers from Mexico and building unusual alliances through the intersection of agriculture and immigration.

On Jan. 24, Kathy Means, vice president of government relations for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., is scheduled to give growers a legislative update from Washington, D.C.

“Every year, we keep saying this year, it’s important,” Marvin said.

“With the farm bill not yet passed and with the labor challenges being the No. 1 issue for every farm in the Northeast, and trying to figure out what Washington is doing and how we can work with Washington, this year it’s extremely important for the grower-shipper to have that kind of input from someone who’s on the ‘in’ at the national level.”

Vegetable association president Mark Henry, president of Eden, N.Y.-based W.D. Henry & Sons Inc., which markets its vegetables through Eden Valley Growers, said the show has become a major attraction for leading state associations that have joined in recent years.

“Syracuse is a general feeding point for the Northeast,” he said.

“We can draw on a wide range of university and professional people that are well-versed in a lot of the issues that face those of us in the Northeast and the whole country, from labor to insect and disease management and varieties. The show brings a wide range of representatives from the industry, from seed providers to packaging. It offers one-stop shopping for a wide variety of groups.”

The show normally attracts up to 1,400 participants.

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.