The Georgia agriculture industry is experiencing some positive signs, with Hurricane Michael relief funds being approved for distribution, China reopening its poultry market to Georgia-raised poultry and consumers buying more Georgia-grown products, according to Georgia’s State Fiscal Economist Jeffrey Dorfman.
Dorfman, who is also an agricultural economist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, served as the keynote speaker for the UGA Ag Forecast held Tuesday, Jan. 21 in Macon, Georgia.
He reminded the group of Georgia farmers and agricultural industry leaders at the meeting that consumers are now able to search and find value over the Internet.
“The best advice I can give you is to brand your product,” he said. “Brand your product with a Georgia Grown logo and you’ll get a premium price for your product and deliver value to consumers.”
Georgia Grown is a marketing program managed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Dorfman explained that Georgia’s economy is reliant on the economies of other countries because the state has a large export market.
“The U.S. manufacturing sector is in a recession, services are growing slowly, but consumer spending is solid,” he said. “Holiday shopping was up 3% to 4%. That is a good sign that consumers aren’t afraid to spend money and use credit cards.”
If an economic slowdown does occur, Georgia is in good shape and has enough “wiggle room” to survive, he said.
“We won’t have a recession unless something happens in the world that makes everyone panic,” said Dorfman via an Internet feed from his office at the Georgia State Capitol. “More people in Georgia are employed than ever before. Of new plant openings that were projects of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, more than 70% were outside of the Atlanta area. We are growing in Atlanta and outside of Atlanta, spread fairly evenly across the state.”
Dorfman said that, unfortunately, it’s hard to keep the economy growing and growing fast. He said Georgia now has $2.8 billion in its “rainy day fund.”
“Despite that, we want to be very prudent,” he said. “The governor is focused on making our government more efficient … and creating a better state government with the same or less taxpayer money.”