The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces plenary speakers for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF), to be held Feb. 20–21, 2020, in Arlington, Va., under the theme “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture.”
The opening plenary session will feature a fireside chat between Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and John Hartnett, Founder and CEO of SVG Ventures, a platform of corporations, universities, and investors focused on the food and agriculture industries. Secretary Perdue and Mr. Hartnett will discuss the future of agriculture, challenges facing the sector, and emerging solutions that could address them.
The fireside discussion will be followed by a panel titled “Innovation as a solution for farmers,” which will bring together industry leaders to speak about various aspects of innovation and implications for farmers. Speakers at the plenary panel include:
- Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Jeff Broin, founder of POET
- Shari Rogge-Fidler, President of Farm Foundation
The session will be moderated by John Newton, Chief Economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Also during the Thursday morning session, USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson will unveil the Department’s outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade in 2020 and discuss the U.S. farm income situation.
Along with the plenary presentations, Forum attendees can choose from 30 sessions with more than 90 speakers. Among the concurrent track sessions and topics supporting this year’s theme are: innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, frontiers in conservation, and the science of food safety. Participants can also take part in a pre-forum field trip on February 19, which will feature a local urban farm enterprise and a visit with scientists who conduct research on microgreens, locally adapted fruit varieties and other urban farming topics at USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. A nominal fee covers transportation and a boxed lunch.
Now in its 96th year, the Agricultural Outlook Forum is USDA’s largest annual meeting and the sector’s premier event, attracting around 1,600 attendees each year from the U.S. and abroad. The forum highlights key issues and timely topics affecting the agriculture sector, offering a platform for exchanging information and ideas among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both foreign and domestic.