Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, creating 20 percent of the state’s economy.

So it makes sense that the Southern Farm Show, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, is the state’s largest trade show. And large it is, utilizing all seven major buildings on the fairgrounds, and spilling over into acres of outdoor exhibits and temporary structures.

“It’s where farmers come to get better,” says David Zimmerman, show director of the 37th annual show.

According to Zimmerman, that improvement can come in many forms. It may be a new implement that increases productivity, or a key piece of advice gleaned from one of the hundreds of experts at the show.

Or perhaps it’s a new technique picked up at a continuing education class.

And while many farmers and agribusiness professionals come with a specific need in mind, for many it’s that yet-unknown discovery that brings them to Raleigh each year.

With over 500 manufacturers planning to be on hand for the show, there’s plenty to discover.

Looking for a new tractor? There’s the latest from John Deere, Case IH, Kubota, Massey Ferguson, Caterpillar, New Holland, Kioti, Branson, Mahindra, LS, and Cub Cadet.

There are similarly long lists for tillage, hay, cattle, spraying, and spreading equipment. If it’s involved in farming in the Carolinas and Virginia, it will most likely be there.

Zimmerman says there will also be plenty to keep landscape and construction contractors busy. “Those professional often use the same equipment as farmers, and many farm equipment manufacturers also build landscape and construction equipment, so it’s a natural tie-in.”

He also relates that many in the construction and landscaping business grew up on farms, and still have small agricultural operations.

The show also stays busy with meetings and activities organized by groups including the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, the North Carolina Pork Council, the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture also has a strong presence at the show, with exhibits and their North Carolina Agricultural Development Forum.

The Southern Farm Show is for and about agriculture, and an event farmers look forward to each year.

Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, contact Southern Shows Inc. at (800) 849-0248 or visit the show web site at