TULARE, Calif. -- The people who grow your food around the globe come together once a year in Central California for the biggest agriculture expo in the world.
"Without agriculture, nobody eats or drinks," said World Agri-Center CEO Jerry Sinift. The three-day event in Tulare, California began as a chamber of commerce event 53 years ago and has grown into the largest agricultural exposition in the world, giving vendors and buyers the chance to connect and talk business.
It routinely brings in more than 100,000 people each year. In 2020, the expo hosted 106,357 attendees representing 46 states and 56 countries. In 2017, the population of Tulare was just over 63,000.
"We always apologize to the people of Visalia and Tulare... if you want to go to your favorite family restaurant this week, we apologize because it's going to be full," Sinift said.
The show highlights the latest technology in the world of agriculture, often focusing on autonomous vehicles and innovations to help farmers keep up with demand.
"When I was in high school, tractors were just 4-speed... but today there's GPS and automated equipment now that's self-propelled," Sinift said.
One of the most talked-about products at this year's expo was from the company Cainthus. They created cameras with AI technology to give farmers a view of cows 24/7, and the tech allows them to monitor the cows' health by tracking their eating habits and food levels.
"We've had cows for about 10,000 years now and nobody has ever had the ability to look at cows 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," said CEO Aidan Connolly. "Now we can do it."
For the first time, there was a strong push towards hemp at the expo, with companies touting the crop's versatility. Some vendors talked about the benefits of eating hemp, others showed how it could be used as house insolation.
"I firmly believe that this is the most important agriculture crop of my lifetime," said Ryan Loflin with Rocky Mountain Hemp out of Colorado. "It can feed you, it can house you, it can clothe you, there's really not a limit to what this plant can do."
"Every year we talk to people from all over the country who didn't realize the scope of how big this show was," said Joel Seal with B.W. Implement Co. He's been coming to the expo for 22 years, but his company has been at the expo every year of its existence.
"It's totally amazing. It's a no-brainer for us," Seal said. "As long as we're in business, we'll be here."
The expo takes place in Tulare, California every February.