Annual agricultural trade conference will showcase successes, challenges

Annual agricultural trade conference will showcase successes, challenges
RICHMOND—The ninth annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade is set for March 6-7 in Richmond, and agricultural leaders are calling it a timely opportunity to highlight the value of farm and forest exports to the state and national economies.

“We export about one-third of all that we grow in Virginia, so if we didn’t have those overseas markets I’m not sure what would happen to all that product—or to the prices we get for our commodities,” said Wayne F. Pryor, president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau is a conference sponsor, along with the Virginia Port Authority and Virginia Tech.

“Agriculture and forestry are the largest parts of Virginia’s economy, representing $70 billion in sales, jobs and further business impacts,” Pryor noted. “Anytime we can bring together industry leaders, government officials and representatives of our trading partners overseas, it’s a win-win situation.”

Panel discussions at the conference will focus on the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement for agriculture and opportunities for farm exports to the Pacific region. Other presentations will focus on current U.S. agriculture and trade priorities and opportunities and challenges for forest product exports.

Exports of farm commodities have been a shining star for the American economy for decades. Last October farm exports had a positive trade balance of almost $5 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That trend continued with a $4.6 billion positive ag trade balance in November 2016 and $3.2 billion in December.

Virginia is fortunate to have a strong transport infrastructure for farm and forest exports, Pryor said. “The Port of Virginia is the largest on the East Coast. We’re ideally situated in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard and we have great rail and highway access from Hampton Roads to the East Coast.”

Conference details and online registration are available at

Media: Contact Tony Banks, VFBF assistant director of commodity marketing, at 804-290-1114 or
Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.

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