Virginia Tech's Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority will hold a workshop on the international trade of agricultural products March 3 and 4 in Norfolk, Va.

The workshop, which will focus on the theme “Agricultural Trade: From Farm, to Port, to the Global Marketplace,” will be held at the Sheraton Waterside.

“I don’t think any other state is better situated for global trade than Virginia,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “We not only grow and process a wide variety of products in Virginia, but we also have a tremendous year-round, ice-free port. Agricultural exports from Virginia have contributed to the positive side of the state’s trade equation even in this down economy, exceeding $2 billion annually. Exports create jobs and they help make farming profitable. Through this workshop, we hope to give even more of our farmers and producers the information and access needed to break into the international marketplace.”

The workshop is designed to provide farmers, private sector businesses, industry officials, and policymakers with a forum to discuss export opportunities for U.S. and Virginia agriculture, federal, and state programs to promote agricultural exports, and specific opportunities and obstacles to agricultural and food exports.

Confirmed conference speakers include:

  • Richard T. Crowder, former U.S. chief agriculture trade negotiator and professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech;
  • Joe Glauber, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech;
  • Larry Pope, CEO of Smithfield Foods; and
  • Wayne F. Pryor, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation president.

Representatives from the Virginia Port Authority will also speak at the workshop. Invited speakers include Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and senior U.S. Department of Agriculture and trade officials from Washington, D.C.

A new and informative part of this year’s workshop will be a panel discussion by representatives from Brazil, Canada, and the European Union who will discuss trade from the perspective of a customer and competitor of the United States. A senior trade representative from China has also been invited to speak.

“Agriculture and food exports are important to U.S. farm income, and U.S. agriculture is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in market opportunities because of obstacles it faces in exporting products to countries around the world,” Crowder said. He added, “The importance of understanding and acting on trade issues and opportunities has never been greater. This workshop provides a unique opportunity to discuss these trade issues and opportunities with exporters, national, and state policymakers, and some of our most important trading partners.”

Registration is limited. For more information, call Spencer Neale at (804) 290-1153 or visit the international trade workshop website.