The Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will co-host the 13th annual Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on March 30. Given the current health and safety guidelines, this year’s conference will be held virtually.

This year’s event, co-hosted by Virginia's Office of the Governor, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Port of Virginia, will include distinguished speakers in both agricultural trade policy and trade economics.

“We are pleased to offer and support this conference in a virtual format this year to address the ongoing issues surrounding international agricultural trade. Like years past, it is sure to provide valuable information for producers, food businesses, and policymakers to help Virginia’s largest industry – agriculture and forestry – continue to thrive,” said Alan Grant, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

This year’s conference will address current U.S. and Virginia trade priorities, international and domestic trade perspectives, and an update on recent trade agreements as well as opportunities and challenges in emerging markets.

“The global agricultural trade arena has experienced many shocks over the last year, but remains an important market segment for Virginia agriculture and forestry,” said Virginia Tech Associate Professor Jason Grant, who directs the Virginia Tech Center for Agricultural Trade. “Producers, agribusiness leaders, and others will benefit from this year’s conference as we address export growth opportunities following Brexit, the new Biden administration trade agenda, and challenges sparked by the pandemic and demand recovery."

Conference speakers and panelists will include Gov. Ralph Northam; Thomas Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture; Dame Karen Pierce, ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States; and an interactive session featuring marketing and trade representatives from Canada, the United Kingdom, and China.

Because of the virtual nature of this year’s event, there will be no reception following the conference. However, all conference participants will be invited to an in-person fall 2021 reception as public health and safety guidelines allow. The exact date of this event will be announced at a later time.

The conference is just one way Virginia Tech partners with policymakers, producers, and industry leaders to enhance Virginia agriculture and forestry. This year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences together with the Global Agricultural Productivity Report are further supporting the conference as event gold sponsors. 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 undergraduate and graduate students from Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and Southside Community College to virtually attend the conference as a part of the college’s mission to provide experiential learning and global opportunities for students. The conference provides students with an opportunity to learn from and network with leading 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 or call Event Coordinator Jolene Boatright at 540-664-4298 or jolene@jemshospitality.com.

- Written by Jillian Broadwell

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