VFBF Annual Convention to Celebrate History of Virginia Agriculture

The history of Virginia agriculture will be celebrated in a historic setting at this year’s Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention.

“Farming for Over 400 Years” is the theme of the convention, which will be held Nov. 28-30 at the Williamsburg Lodge, a Colonial Williamsburg property that dates to 1750.

Featured speakers include American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal; Tyne Morgan, host of farm news television program U.S. Farm Report; and Vance Crowe, director of millennial engagement for Monsanto.

Morgan will speak at the convention’s opening luncheon on Tuesday, and Crowe will speak during Thursday’s Leadership Breakfast.

Morgan is a multimedia journalist who hosts the nation’s longest-running syndicated program focusing on agriculture and rural issues.

Before joining Monsanto, Crowe was a communications strategist for the World Bank Group and a communications coordinator at a National Public Radio affiliate in northern California.

The convention’s first afternoon will feature two educational conferences. During Cannabis Production: Are there Value-added Crop Opportunities? Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Colorado-based Marijuana Industry Group in Denver, will address the possibility of commercial cannabis production in Virginia. She will be joined by Lindsay Reames, Virginia’s assistant secretary of agriculture and forestry.

Kelly works for Colorado’s oldest, largest and most diverse trade association for licensed cannabis businesses. The MIG’s mission is to advance safe, licensed cannabis access through smart policy and a strong regulatory system. Kelly is a former licensed cannabis business owner, and her family has been involved in industrial hemp research in Pennsylvania.

A second conference, Lessons Learned on Leases—Solar, Cellular and Others will focus on what landowners should consider when asked to lease land for solar panels, cell towers and similar structures. The featured speaker will be attorney Mark Botkin of BotkinRose LLC in Harrisonburg.

Botkin was raised on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley and enjoys helping farm families preserve farmland for future generations through conservation easements, zoning and value-added business enterprises.

The Nov. 29 and 30 business sessions will include program updates, remarks from invited guests and policy discussion. It is at the annual convention that delegates from each county Farm Bureau in Virginia help shape VFBF state and federal policies for the coming year.

Judging will take place for the Young Farmers Achievement Award, and four finalists will compete in the annual Young Farmers Discussion Meet. Winners of both will be announced at a Nov. 29 breakfast.

But the convention is not all hard work.

At the event’s Nov. 29 banquet, participants will get to unwind while listening to humorist Jeanne Robertson. Robertson grew up in the tiny town of Graham, N.C., and considers herself a “grandma gone viral,” having scored more than 37 million views on YouTube, published three books and become a mainstay on Sirius XM’s comedy channels. A speaker for more than 50 years, the 6-foot, 2-inch-tall comedian learned she could make people laugh during her reign as Miss North Carolina in 1963 and as Miss Congeniality in the 1964 Miss America pageant.

The Auburn University graduate taught high school and college physical education for nine years, but throughout those years requests continued to pour in for her to speak. In 1976 she entered professional speaking full time.

The convention will conclude Thursday with the election of VFBF directors.

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