RICHMOND, VA (STL.News) Governor Ralph Northam will co-host the 13th Annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. The annual event, which is taking place virtually this year, brings together policymakers, agriculture and forestry businesses, and academic leaders, highlighting the vital role of agriculture and forestry in Virginia’s international trade landscape.
The conference is a partnership between the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Port of Virginia.
“As Virginia’s first and third largest private sector industries, agriculture and forestry have a lead role in fueling new economic growth and ensuring we see a sustainable, resilient recovery,” said Governor Northam. “I am pleased that in its 13th year, the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade continues to find meaningful ways to support Virginia’s agriculture and forestry producers who are eager to rebound from the widespread impacts of the pandemic and successfully expand into global markets.”
Governor Northam will deliver the keynote address and discuss how exports of agriculture and forestry products have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recent trade tariff wars and share Virginia’s plans to attract new foreign investment and strengthen trade partnerships going forward.
“The coronavirus pandemic has complicated day-to-day operations in the forest products and agribusiness sectors,” said Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring. “Many operations have persevered through shutdowns, slowdowns, and supply chain meltdowns both in Virginia and around the world. I am pleased that this event can continue to support Virginia agriculture and forestry businesses and connect them with programs and services to help get their Virginia products into the global marketplace.”
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, will provide remarks discussing upcoming priorities for the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with bilateral and multilateral trade relationships.
Her Excellency Dame Karen Pierce, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States, will also present at the conference, underscoring the significance of bilateral trade between the United States and United Kingdom, as well as the importance of finalizing a United Kingdom-United States free trade agreement. Virginia’s top products exported to the United Kingdom include pig and poultry fat, lumber, live animals, and fuel wood pellets. In 2020, Virginia agricultural and forestry product exports to the United Kingdom totaled $36.4 million.
Other conference speakers include Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy Julie Callahan, Chief Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation John Newton and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring.
Thanks to its virtual format, this year’s conference also includes presentations from VDACS international trade representatives located in the United Kingdom, Canada, and China. Following their presentations, representatives will be available for interactive question and answer sessions and networking with conference attendees.
For more information about the conference or to register, please visit ag-forestry.virginia.gov/agtrade2021.