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Ag Expo showcases importance of agriculture in our region

The 2018 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum will bring thousands of visitors to the Spokane Convention Center, Feb. 6-8, bringing the latest news, tips, and products for our region’s agricultural industry.

As the show moves forward in its fifth decade, the Ag Expo remains the region’s largest trade show, attracting exhibitors from across the Pacific Northwest. The three-day event has an estimated economic impact of $10-13 million.

“Spokane has always been a hub for agriculture,” said Myrna O’Leary, Greater Spokane Incorporated AgriBusiness Council Manager and Ag Expo Director.

Spokane County employs around 1,500 in agriculture, across 2,500 farms, which generates more than $500 million in revenue each year for our region.

O’Leary said newer crops are becoming more prevalent in the marketplace, with sunflowers and garbanzo beans becoming quite popular in recent years.

The large and small machinery are staple attractions every year, but there’s also something more on the exhibit floor. Everything from bank lenders to universities, exhibits from government agencies, and booths for homeowner maintenance are all available for attendees to visit during the trade show.

Throughout its life, the Ag Expo has stayed true to its foundations while taking on new life. O’Leary mentioned there are more women attending the most recent trade shows, as well as younger families.

“When I started, we gave computer classes on learning to use QuickBooks,” she said.

Today, technology plays a more prevalent role in agriculture. Drones are used daily to inspect crops and GPS is a common tool employed in larger equipment. Innovation continues to redefine the farming experience.

For O’Leary, the 2018 show marks her 30th and final time at the helm, serving as Director of the Ag Expo.

“You have to think on your feet,” she said, looking back at a skill that’s helped her get through the years of organizing shows.

O’Leary said the success of the Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum each year is credited to the incredible number of volunteers, committee members, friends, and family who lend a hand.

For more information on the 41st Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Form, visit AgShow.org.

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