The Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Science will co-host the 11th annual Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, which will take place on March 5 at the Richmond Marriott Hotel.

The event will be co-hosted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Port of Virginia.

“We saw a significant shift in the focus of U.S. trade policy in 2018 that has impacted Virginia producers and agri-food businesses,” said Jason Grant, associate professor and director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Agricultural Trade. “This year’s conference provides an important venue for Virginia producers, foresters, and bankers to gain a better understanding of this shifting trade environment at the state, national, and global level.”

Topics will include U.S. trade policy and economic outlooks with presentations from domestic and foreign dignitaries as well as food business executives.

“This conference gives us a chance to discuss the challenges of the current trade environment and find new opportunities for growth,” said Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring.  

Expected conference speakers include Ambassador Gregg Doud, chief agricultural negotiator of the United States; Thomas Barkin, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Jim DiMenna, the Canada-based CEO of Red Sun Farms; as well as trade negotiators, a variety of industry experts, and dignitaries and officials from various countries, including Australia, China, and the European Union.

All conference participants are invited to a reception at the Governor’s Mansion beginning at 5:30 p.m. following the single-day event.  

The conference is just one way Virginia Tech partners with policymakers, producers, and industry leaders to enhance Virginia agriculture and forestry. The university plays a major role in augmenting Virginia’s top industry – agriculture and forestry – by producing and disseminating relevant research at its Blacksburg campus and throughout the state at various Agricultural Research and Extension Centers and through Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Virginia Tech’s Center for Agricultural Trade is sponsoring over 25 undergraduates from Virginia Tech and Virginia State University to attend the conference as a part of the college’s mission to provide experiential learning opportunities for students. The conference provides students with an opportunity to learn from and network with industry and government representatives, preparing the next generation of Virginia agriculture and forestry leaders.

Individuals, groups, and companies interested in participating in the conference may register online at or call Event Coordinator Christie Young at 804-516-2396.

-          Written by Jillian Broadwell