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Conference to highlight agricultural exports

TIFTON, Ga. -- Exporting agricultural goods--which include forestry products--will take the spotlight Sept. 25-26 in Savannah as farmers and agricultural businesses from around the country gather to enhance their knowledge at the 2013 International Agribusiness Conference and Expo, hosted by the University of Georgia and Georgia Southern University.

Early registration ends Tuesday.

"We see this very much as a growing market," said Mark Troughton, global accounts executive at the Georgia Ports Authority. "One thing this country does very well is farm. We think we're going to be the breadbasket for a lot of areas in the world, not just our area, for the next 20 years."

While the Port of Savannah is already No. 2 in the nation for export tons, the Georgia Ports Authority hopes to double its capacity within the next decade. That's good news for Georgia farmers.

Doubling capacity means that larger shipments can be exported and allows Georgia farmers and businesses to increase their economic productivity around the world. Already, almost 39 percent of shipments exported through the Savannah port are agricultural commodities.

Georgia is the top exporter of U.S. poultry, pecans and wood pulp. Savannah leads the nation in exporting poultry, the state's most valuable commodity according to the 2011 Georgia Farm Gate Value Report.

During the two-day conference at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, participants will interact with industry experts and international trade representatives. Workshop topics include finding markets and buyers for products, financing export transactions and learning about the country's agricultural position in the world market.

"As the global economy continues to grow, Georgia producers are poised to take advantage of increasing demand for food and fiber products," said Kent Wolfe, director of the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "Georgia can export poultry and cotton cheaper than Brazil, providing us a competitive advantage in shipping exports to Europe and China."

"The forest products industry is a major economic engine for Georgia. It contributes nearly $25 billion in economic activity within the state and is responsible for over $13 billion in exports," said Alexander Koukoulas, president and CEO of the Georgia Southern University Herty Advanced Materials Development Center in Savannah.

"Our natural resources in biomass are second to none and present a huge opportunity for value creation."

Early registration for the conference is $170. For more information and to register, see www.iace.us.com.

286 Oconee St., Suite 200 North ? Athens, Ga.