The two-day conference, entitled “The New Virginia Economy: Expanding Agricultural Opportunities Worldwide,” is also hosted by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority.
The event will bring together producers, agribusinesses, entrepreneurs, exporters, foreign ambassadors, embassy ministers, land-grant university leadership, state and federal government officials, and others to discuss challenges and opportunities for global exports. Moderated panel discussions and private meetings regarding the international trade of agricultural goods will be held as well.
“This year’s conference will focus on our ongoing efforts helping existing businesses expand, attracting new businesses to the commonwealth, and assisting businesses as they promote and sell more of their outstanding products in the global marketplace.” McAuliffe said.
Consistent with its missions of research, extension and teaching, Virginia Tech plays an enormous role in boosting the agricultural economy around the state. Researchers in the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station both on the Blacksburg campus and at the strategically located Agricultural Research and Extension Centers around the state work on developing new ways to increase the productivity of our agriculture and forestry industry. Virginia Cooperative Extension delivers this knowledge to the stakeholders throughout the state.
Soybeans, lumber, tobacco, wheat, and pork — all commodities for which Virginia Tech provides crucial research and Extension services — are among the state’s top exports.
At the same time, the university engages students in hands-on learning experiences and is developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture and forestry who will help grow our economy.
Governor McAuliffe will deliver the keynote address at the conference on March 7 at 12:15 p.m. He will discuss how exports of agriculture and forestry products are playing key roles in his efforts to build a new Virginia economy and his work to make Virginia the East Coast capital for agricultural and forestry exports. The Governor also will announce final figures for agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia for 2015.
During his first State of the Commonwealth address, McAuliffe announced his goal to make Virginia the East Coast capital of agricultural and forestry exports. Virginia has moved from fifth to second place since 2010 when Virginia’s agricultural and forestry export growth initiative was launched. In 2014, the commonwealth totaled more than $3.35 billion in agricultural and forestry exports.
Other conference speakers include: U.S. Senator Mark Warner; Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agriculture Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative; John Reinhart, Chief Executive Officer of VPA; the Honorable R. Steven Landes, Virginia House of Delegates; and Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
Additional speakers will be announced prior to the conference.
Several panel discussions have been arranged to focus on the importance of agricultural and forestry exports to the commonwealth. Panel discussion topics will include:
- Economic Outlook Panel: Macro Outlook on Emerging Markets
- Impact of Animal Diseases that Affect Agricultural Exports
- Banking with Exports in Mind – A Wells Fargo Perspective
- Developing Export Markets
This year’s conference also includes a lightning round session covering topics from cost-saving shipping strategies and export credit insurance to utilizing social media in global marketing and best practices for translating your international content. Lightning round speakers include representatives from TMX Shipping, Global Insurance Services, Virginia International Terminals, Whittington Consulting, and Ingenuiti. Staff from VDACS’ global export promotion network also will attend and meet individually with current or potential exporters.
Individuals, groups, and companies interested in participating in the conference may register online or call event coordinator, Christie Young, at 804-516-2396.