Ricketts announces 28th annual Governor’s Ag Conference

LINCOLN—Gov. Pete Ricketts has announced the schedule for the 28th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference, which serves as a key event for Nebraska’s agriculture community. The conference is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, March 2-3, at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.

“This conference brings together leaders in Nebraska agriculture to address challenges facing agriculture and to identify new opportunities for continued growth of our state’s top industry,” Ricketts said. “It’s also a great chance for Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, agriculture leaders and key agri-business managers to provide input to my administration as we work together to keep Nebraska’s ag industry growing.”

This year’s Nebraska Governor’s Ag Conference will focus on subjects designed to spark conversation about key themes on the future of rural Nebraska. The nationally recognized speakers will focus on topics such as biotechnology opportunities for Nebraska, positioning the state for advantages in a shifting global trade market, understanding consumers’ demand for transparency in the food production process and discussion of the term “sustainability” and its implications for agriculture.

“I strongly encourage anyone with a career connected to the agriculture industry to attend this conference,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture director Greg Ibach. “It is an opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of information in our industry and also to network with colleagues, share ideas and concerns, and prepare for the future with sound advice and policy knowledge.”

The conference starts at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, with welcomes and remarks from Ricketts and Ibach, followed by Scott Aughenbaugh with the Center for Strategic International Studies. Aughenbaugh’s world-view analysis of key issues like population growth, technology trends and economics will help to generate dialogue about Nebraska’s role in a global economy.

The annual “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception begins at 6 p.m. March 2 and features motivational speaker and author Gus Gustafson. A Nebraska native, Gustafson has inspired thousands, telling how he overcame a tragic accident that took one of his arms when he was young.

The conference resumes on Thursday, March 3, featuring the following:

A panel discussion on “Nebraska’s Place in Biotechnology’s Next Frontier.” The panel features top experts from Merck Animal Health, Evonik Industries and Bio Nebraska.

Cameron Bruett, with meat company JBS USA, defines “sustainability” and discusses what the term means from the farm gate all the way through the food chain.

Charlie Arnot, with the Center of Food Integrity, will present the results of the center’s recent nationwide study on consumers demand for transparency when it comes to the food they buy.

Jerry Gulke, Illinois farmer and founder of ag marketing and strategies firm, The Gulke Group, will provide analysis of national and international issues affecting agricultural trade and the impact on agriculture in the United States and specifically Nebraska.

Anyone interested in agriculture issues is invited to attend. A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Wednesday and Thursday. Registration and additional information is available online at www.nda.nebraska.gov, or by calling NDA toll-free (800) 831-0550.