Governor McAuliffe to Co-Host 7th Annual Conference on Agricultural Trade March 9-10 in Richmond

Governor Terry McAuliffe will co-host the 7th Annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on March 9-10, 2015 at the Richmond Marriot Hotel.  The two-day conference, entitled Facilitating New Opportunities in the Global Marketplace, is co-hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA).  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.  A moderated panel discussion and private meetings regarding the international trade of agricultural goods will be held as well. 

Governor McAuliffe will deliver the co-keynote address at the conference on Monday, March 9 at 12:00 PM, followed by United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  The Governor 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 2014.  During his State of the Commonwealth address in mid-January, McAuliffe announced that agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia would reach at least $3 billion, a new record high.  In 2013, the Commonwealth totaled more than $2.85 billion in agricultural and forestry exports. 
In his remarks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will discuss the importance of agriculture exports from a national perspective through his work to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the tremendous innovation of rural America.
Speaking about the conference, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am pleased to announce the 7th Annual Governor’s Agricultural Trade Conference, an important event highlighting how agriculture and forestry exports are playing a key role in my efforts to build a new Virginia economy.  Building the new Virginia economy will mean helping existing businesses expand, attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth, and assisting businesses promote and sell more of their outstanding products in the global marketplace.  That diversity is vital and this year¹s conference, which will include my longtime friend, Tom Vilsack, will show how critical agricultural and forestry exports are to the nation¹s economy and the economy right here in Virginia.”
In addition to Governor McAuliffe and Secretary Vilsack, the conference is scheduled to feature presentations from His Excellency Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Budi Bowoleksono, Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S., and His Excellency José Ramón Cabañas, Chief of Mission for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.  Canada has been a long-standing top market for Virginia agricultural and forestry exports; sales exceeded $259 million in 2013.  As Virginia¹s 5th largest export market with more than $110 million in 2013 sales, Indonesia has emerged as a key market in the last few years.  Virginia has worked closely with Cuban officials in Washington, D.C. and Havana over the last decade to build the Commonwealth¹s business relationship with Cuba.  In 2013, Virginia was the nation’s third largest exporting state to Cuba with sales of just under $40 million.
Other conference speakers include: Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agriculture Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR); Richard Willey, President of Perdue Agribusiness; John Reinhart, Chief Executive Officer of VPA; Dr. Timothy Sands, President of Virginia Tech; Clarence Gooden, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Chief Commercial Officer of CSX; Jim Borel, Executive Vice President of DuPont-Pioneer; and Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. 
A panel focused on farm, U.S., and global economic trends will feature Bob Young, Chief Economist at American Farm Bureau Federation, and Michael Swanson, Senior Vice President, Consultant, and Agricultural Economist at Wells Fargo.  The panel will be moderated by Ambassador Richard Crowder, former USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator.
Individuals, groups, and companies interested in participating in the conference may register online at call event coordinator, Christie Young, at 804.516.2396.

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