Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, along with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority, will co-host the sixth annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade March 6-7, in Richmond, Va.
The event held at the Richmond Marriott Hotel will bring together producers, agribusinesses, exporters, foreign ambassadors, land-grant university leadership, state and federal government officials, and agriculture students to discuss challenges and opportunities for the state's global exports.
“Virginia Tech contributes to the success of Virginia’s number-one economic sector by providing education and Extension programs and by conducting research for the agricultural industry,” said Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Soybean, lumber, tobacco, wheat, and pork — all commodities for which Virginia Tech provides crucial research and Extension services — were among the top exported products that helped push 2012 export figures to a record $2.61 billion. That followed 2011’s $2.35 billion figure, the second largest total in history.
“The commonwealth is fortunate to have the support of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other partners for this crucial conference on trade,” said Ambassador Richard Crowder, Thornhill Professor of Agricultural Trade in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “For those who attend, the conference is a unique opportunity to do one-stop shopping and put producers in touch with distributors who are seeking to import products from our state.”
McAuliffe will deliver the keynote address at the conference on Thursday, March 6 at noon He will discuss the importance of agriculture and forestry, the state’s two largest industries, on the commonwealth’s economy and his plans to make Virginia the East Coast capital for agricultural and forestry exports. The governor will also announce total figures for agricultural exports from Virginia for 2013.
Students from Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, as well as area community colleges, actively participate in the event in order to gain firsthand knowledge of the importance of trade and economic policy in the agriculture sector. Students have been a presence at the conference since its inception.
Agriculture and forestry are Virginia's largest industries, with a combined economic impact of approximately $70 billion annually — more than $52 billion from agriculture and more than $17 billion from forestry. The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the commonwealth, according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.
“The importance of Virginia’s agricultural exports continues to grow for our producers and agribusinesses – as well as our overall economy – and the annual conference is an important gathering place and educational forum for both experienced exporters and those wanting to break into the export market,” McAuliffe said. “Agriculture and forestry will play integral roles in my administration’s efforts to create jobs and grow and diversify our economy, and I’m looking forward to co-hosting this conference as part of the work we’re doing on behalf of the commonwealth’s two largest industries.”
In addition to McAuliffe, the conference is scheduled to feature presentations from
- His Excellency Kenichiro Sasae, Japanese ambassador to the United States;
- His Excellency Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Vietnamese ambassador to the United States;
- C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods;
- Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation;
- Tom Capozzi, chief commercial officer, Virginia Port Authority; and
- Todd P. Haymore, Virginia secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
International trade and marketing representatives from Canada, Southeast Asia, and Virginia will also hold one-on-one meetings with individuals and companies interested in exploring export opportunities.
Individuals, groups, and companies interested in participating in the conference may register online or call event coordinator, Christie Young, at 804-516-2396.