Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that he will co-host the 10th annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, which will take place on March 5 at the Richmond Marriott Hotel.

The highly anticipated event will be co-hosted by the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Center for Agricultural Trade, housed in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Virginia Farm Bureau Federation; and the Port of Virginia.

“This year’s conference marks a decade of convening stakeholder’s from Virginia’s largest industry – agriculture and forestry – to advance trade partnerships,” said Alan Grant, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The event will continue the tradition of focusing on the most salient topics in international agricultural trade with representatives from key trade nations. The format gives Virginia producers, agribusinesses, and state leaders a chance to learn about how changes in policy or international agreements could affect Virginia products.

“Many U.S. competitor countries are moving ahead with trade agreements of their own in the Asia-Pacific,” said Jason Grant, associate professor and director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Agricultural Trade. “The U.S. risks losing its competitive advantage in some key markets as a result, which could impact Virginia businesses. It’s a very important time for Virginia producers to become informed about these potential changes and the governor’s conference provides a one-of-a-kind venue for this.”

Conference topics will include the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement – including talks led by Canadian and Mexican representatives to the United States – along with the expected signing of the mega-regional Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Governor Northam will also speak about his priorities and objectives for agriculture and forestry trade. The governor will discuss his administration’s plans to promote Virginia agriculture and forestry products around the world and his dedication to ensuring Virginia’s position as a leader in export promotion of these products.

This year’s conference is a one-day event to accommodate guest schedules and ease the travel burden for attendees.

Conference speakers will include Jim Perdue, chief executive officer of Perdue Farms; Ted McKinney, United States Department of Agriculture under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs; Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau; David MacNaughton, ambassador of Canada to the United States; Geronimo Gutierrez, ambassador of Mexico to the United States; Japanese and other senior United States trade officials; representatives from the United States Grains Council and Meat Export Federation; and Bettina Ring, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry. 

This conference is just one way Virginia Tech partners with policy makers, producers, and industry leaders to enhance Virginia agriculture and forestry. The university plays a major role in augmenting Virginia’s top industry by producing and disseminating relevant research at its Blacksburg campus and throughout the state at various Agricultural Research and Extension Centers and through Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Virginia Tech’s Center for Agricultural Trade is sponsoring 25 undergraduates to attend the conference as a part of the college’s mission to provide experiential learning opportunities for students. The conference provides students from Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and Southside Community College with an opportunity to learn from and network with industry and government representatives, preparing the next generation of Virginia agriculture and forestry leaders.

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


-          Written by Jillian Broadwell

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