AUGUSTA – The Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held as a virtual event in January 2021. The announcement comes after the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which organizes and runs the trades show, assessed the public health and financial risks associated with planning to host an in-person event. Although the event would take place a few months from now, the ability to gather together is still likely to be limited to a level that is much lower than the number of people who would regularly attend the trades show, according to a news release from the DACF.

DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal and Bureau of Agriculture Director Nancy McBrady explained the Department’s decision in a letter emailed to farmers, producers, and business owners who annually rely upon the event for everything from new product sales and networking to continuing education, conferences, and certifications.

“Maine’s agriculture sector continues to adjust to the pandemic,” said McBrady, according to the release. “We know our farmers and producers would value the opportunity to gather together in preparation for the 2021 season, and for many, the trades show is an annual kick-off event for the year. But ultimately, the health and wellbeing of our community takes precedence.”

By holding the event virtually, farmers, service providers, vendors, and the general public will still be able to celebrate agriculture in Maine while accessing important and timely resources and information.

“We are looking forward to working with stakeholders to make sure our virtual agricultural trades show delivers high-quality results,” said Beal, according to the release. “With the ingenuity and innovation that both our agricultural community and our staff in the department embodies, I am certain we will be able to put on a dynamic, interactive, educational, and informative virtual event.”

Beal and McBrady invited past attendees, industry members, and all members of the agriculture community, to complete an online survey to help DACF design the best online model for virtual meetings, webinars, training sessions, and more. Survey responses are requested by Friday, Oct. 16.

A tradition since 1941, DACF’s Maine Agricultural Trades Show is where the state’s agricultural community convenes to celebrate farming, network, and plan for the coming season. Organized and hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the show provides access to resources that empower farmers and rural communities. Typically, more than 100 exhibitors and dozens of conference sessions are part of this show, attracting agricultural producers, educators, exhibitors, businesses, and others to celebrate farming, exchange best practices, and explore farming products, equipment, and services. The show is free and open to the public and is an opportunity for all ages to experience Maine’s agriculture industry.

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