Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands is one of the many distinguished guests who will be speaking at the seventh annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on March 9-10 at the Richmond Marriot Hotel. Sands will speak on March 10 about Virginia Tech’s commitment and contribution to not only meeting the rapidly increasing global demand for food but also to keeping Virginia’s largest industry competitive in an increasingly global market place.

The event, co-hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Virginia Port Authority brings together global, national, and state policy makers; educators and students; and private sector executives to discuss policy issues and global market opportunities for Virginia’s largest industry.

Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to announce a record high of more than $3 billion in forestry and agriculture exports and talk about how this ties into growing the state’s economy. Agriculture and forestry are Virginia’s top industries with a combined annual value of $70 billion.

Other speakers at the event will include Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the U.S.; Budi Bowoleksono, Indonesian ambassador to the U.S.; José Ramón Cabañas, chief of mission for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.; and Ambassador Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. In addition, David Shark, deputy director general of the World Trade Organization in Geneva and senior executives from DuPont, Perdue Agribusiness, and CSX will be featured.

The event titled Facilitating New Opportunities in the Global Marketplace is in its seventh year and has become an annual recognition of the vital role that agriculture and trade play in the state while highlighting the value of the commonwealth's crops, livestock, and forest products.

Consistent with its missions of research, extension and teaching, Virginia Tech plays an enormous role in boosting the agricultural economy around the state. Researchers both on the Blacksburg campus and at the strategically located Agricultural Research and Extension Centers around the state work on developing new ways to sustainability increase the productivity of our agriculture and forestry industry. Virginia Cooperative Extension delivers this knowledge to the stakeholders throughout the state.

Soybeans, lumber, tobacco, wheat, and pork — all commodities for which Virginia Tech provides crucial research and Extension services — are among the state’s top exports.

At the same time, the university engages students in hands-on learning experiences and is developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture and forestry who will help grow our economy.

“The future of agriculture will be increasingly global,” said former Ambassador Richard Crowder, the Thornhill Endowed Chair in Agricultural Trade at Virginia Tech. “This conference increases understanding of the opportunities of the global market place for all of Virginia’s stakeholders.”

As the state's number one industry by a wide margin, agriculture has the power to drive the commonwealth's economic engine.

“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,” the governor said in a release.

Individuals, groups, and companies interested in participating in the conference may register online or call event coordinator, Christie Young, at 804-516-2396. 



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