The Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will co-host the 12th annual Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on March 10 at the Richmond Marriot Hotel.

Event hosts – including the Virginia Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Farm Bureau Federation, and the Port of Virginia – have planned an agenda that will address today’s most salient agricultural trade topics from key leaders in both food production and policy.

“For over a decade this event has provided valuable information and networking opportunities for individuals in Virginia’s largest industry – agriculture and forestry,” said Alan Grant, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Topics for this year’s conference will include domestic and global trade policy updates, recent trade agreements, and opportunities and challenges in emerging markets.

“The global economy continues to be an important market segment for Virginia agriculture and forestry,” said Virginia Tech Associate Professor Jason Grant, who directs the Virginia Tech Center for Agricultural Trade. “This year’s conference will give producers, agribusiness leaders, and others an opportunity to learn about export growth opportunities and key trade agreements, challenges and headwinds related to global demand uncertainty, and connect with key individuals along the supply chain.”

Conference speakers and panelists will include USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky; USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson; Luke Chandler, chief economist of Deere and Co.; Dhamu Thamodaran, Smithfield executive vice president, chief strategy and commodity hedging officer; Kent Barcus, National Cattlemen's Beef Association director of international trade and market access; Don Bright, Meherrin River Forest Products and Virginia Board of Forestry; and more.

All conference participants are invited to a reception at the Governor’s Mansion beginning at 5:30 p.m. following the single-day event.  

The conference is just one way Virginia Tech partners with policymakers, producers, and industry leaders to enhance Virginia agriculture and forestry. The university plays a major role in augmenting Virginia’s top industry – agriculture and forestry – 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 nearly 50 undergraduates from Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and Southside Community College to attend the conference as a part of the college’s mission to provide experiential learning and global opportunities for students. The conference provides students with an opportunity to learn from and network with leading 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 or call event coordinator Jolene Boatright at 540-664-4298 or

Written by Jillian Broadwell

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