Governor McDonnell to Co-Host 5th Annual Conference on Agricultural Trade March 7-8 in Richmond

Governor Bob McDonnell will co-host the 5th Annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on March 7 and 8 in Richmond. The two-day conference, entitled “Virginia and the Global Market,” is co-hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and the Virginia Port Authority.  The event will bring together producers, agribusinesses, exporters, foreign ambassadors, embassy ministers, land-grant university leadership, state and federal government officials, and others to discuss challenges and opportunities for global exports.  Workshops and private meetings regarding the international trade of agricultural goods will be held as well.
Governor McDonnell will address the conference on Thursday, March 7 at 12 noon.  The Governor will discuss the importance of agricultural exports and the role agriculture and forestry, the state’s largest industries, play in Virginia’s economy.  The Governor will also announce total figures for agricultural exports from Virginia for 2012.  In 2011, the Commonwealth totaled more than $2.35 billion in agricultural exports, an all-time record.  That followed 2010’s $2.24 billion figure, the second largest total in history.

Speaking about the event, Governor McDonnell said, “I’m pleased to again co-host the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, which has become the premier event highlighting the importance of agricultural exports on the Commonwealth’s economy. These exports are generating billions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs throughout Virginia, from our farmlands to our ports.  That’s just one of the reasons I decided to integrate fully agriculture and forestry into my administration’s overall economic development and jobs creation agenda.  However, we also know that there are many more opportunities in the global marketplace for our producers and exporters.  With the new international marketing resources we’ve secured from the General Assembly, we’re now able to work more strategically with our private sector partners to take advance of these opportunities.  This conference is part of that effort, and I encourage all stakeholders currently exporting or interested in exporting to attend.
 In addition to Governor McDonnell, the conference is scheduled to feature presentations from, among others, Ambassador Mike Moore of New Zealand; Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative; Dr. Charles Steger, President of Virginia Tech; Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Rodney Oliver, Executive Director, Virginia Port Authority; Mike McClendon, East Coast President, Lineage Logistics; and J.B. Penn, Chief Economist, Deere and Company.
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) international marketing representatives from Hong Kong, China, India, the European Union, and Latin America will serve on a panel discussing their efforts to increase exports from Virginia.  In addition, the foreign trade representatives will be available to meet privately with attendees who are interested in exploring export opportunities in the countries or regions where they are based.
Since taking office in 2010, Governor McDonnell led overseas trade and marketing missions to Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Japan, China, South Korea, Israel, and India.  These missions and the work of VDACS’ new international marketing staff with Virginia’s private sector exporters have resulted in almost $500 million in new agricultural exports from Virginia so far.  Gubernatorial trade missions for 2013 are being planned now.
Agriculture and forestry are Virginia’s largest industries, with a combined economic impact of $79 billion annually: $55 billion from agriculture and $24 billion from forestry.  The industries also provide approximately 500,000 jobs in the Commonwealth according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.
What:  The Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade Conference information and a tentative agenda available here:
When:  Thursday, March 7: 11:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
            Friday, March 8: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Where:  Omni Hotel, Richmond
Who:  Governor McDonnell, U.S. and Virginia-based agribusinesses, exporters,  foreign ambassadors, embassy ministers, land-grant university personnel

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