By Governor Dave Heineman
The 24th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference will be held February 15-16 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney. The theme for this year’s conference is “Nebraska Agriculture: Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Opportunities.” This event presents an annual opportunity for agricultural producers and leaders to learn more about their industry, and to come together to help ensure this vital industry remains strong. While these dates are earlier than usual, we listened to the feedback of our conference attendees and worked hard to ensure that our event did not conflict with other large agriculture meetings.
This year’s speakers will include John Doggett who is the Senior Lecturer of International Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainability, and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Doggett will discuss Nebraska’s agriculture role in the global economy of the future.
Bruce Knight, the Principal and Founder of Strategic Conservation Solutions, will provide an update on the federal Farm Bill reauthorization. Mr. Knight is a former USDA Under Secretary and he will share insight on the farm policy picture and its potential impact on Nebraska.
A statistic often heard is to feed an anticipated 9 billion people, farmers will need to double agricultural output by 2050 and perhaps even sooner. We will have two speakers who will address how Nebraska agriculture can respond to this challenge – Dr. Archie Clutter and Mr. Bill Holbrook.
Dr. Clutter is with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska and he will explain how the University is positioning itself to be part of meeting the challenge to provide food to a growing world population. As a leading research institution, we are pleased to have him discuss their progress and ideas for the future. Mr. Holbrook is from The ProExporter Network, an agribusiness economic research and analysis provider, and he’ll discuss opportunities and challenges farmers will face in meeting food production demand.
A panel of Nebraskans will join us to discuss their organizations and how they connect consumers with farmers and ranchers. The panelists include Willow Holoubek from A-FAN, Dawn Caldwell from Common Ground Nebraska, and Pete McClymont with We Support Agriculture.
Overall, the farm economy is doing well. Farmers and ranchers generally reinvest profits in their industry in order to improve their production capabilities for the future. They are making needed investments and improvements. They are putting additional conservation practices in place that improve the land and protect the environment. They are putting up new machine shops and bins, and they are paying down debt.
When Nebraska agriculture does well, so does main street Nebraska. Registration information is available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture website at www.agr.ne.gov or by calling 1-800-831-0550. I look forward to seeing Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers and agribusiness leaders at the 2012 Governor’s Ag Conference.