FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 28th, 2015
Office of Communications
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Leads Georgia Agribusiness Mission to Panama
Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black led a delegation of diverse agricultural interest to Panama August 23-26 with a goal of exploring the importance of the Panama Canal expansion and connectivity to our Georgia ports and intermodal connectivity to Atlanta and particularly the Atlanta State Farmers Market. The trade development mission was also aimed at identifying future opportunities for the Atlanta Market in serving as the terminal produce market for the southeast and exporting fresh Georgia Grown products throughout the globe.
Members of the Georgia delegation paid their own travel expenses and included representatives from aquaculture, forestry, pecans, peaches, blueberries, olives/olive oil, peanuts, diversified produce, pet and livestock feed. Delegation members received a briefing on the expansion of the Panama Canal from Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano followed by a tour of the Panama Canal and expansion sites. The U.S. is the primary customer of the 50-mile Canal which saves 4,000 miles of travel around Cape Horn.
Other stops included discussions with the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Jorge Arango, Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Nestor Gonzalez, Executive Manager of Economic Analysis and Market Research Division Silvia de Marucci, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing Oscar Bazan, Panama American Chamber of Commerce President Robert St. John and Executive Director of Trade and Investment Maurice Belanger and John Coronado with U.S. Embassy Commercial Services.
“Georgia agriculture is well positioned to serve the needs of both the U.S. and beyond, including Central America,” Commissioner Black said. “We are very pleased with the relationships we were able to establish and advance through this visit.”
Given the importance of the Atlanta State Farmers Market to the state’s economy, retail was a large focus of the delegation’s mission. The market houses over 100 separate businesses related to all aspects of food production and distribution, especially retail, and serves as an incubator for small agricultural businesses by generating approximately $6.2 million in revenue per year with total sales of more than $1 billion. The delegation spoke with PriceMart Wholesale Shopping Club, Riba Smith Grocery Store and Grupo Rey Grocers regarding continuing and strengthening the retail relationship.
“One of our attendees has already been contacted by one of the retailers within 24 hours of our return,” Commissioner Black said. “And we look forward to continuing the conversations we started at this year’s Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Atlanta.”
Agriculture contributes $72 billion to Georgia’s economy with a significant portion of that coming from exported product.
About Georgia Grown
The Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program provides a powerful branding tool as well as education, marketing and business connections to expand agribusinesses and the agricultural industry throughout the state. Learn more or join Georgia Grown at www.georgiagrown.com.