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Office of the Chief Economist
United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Outlook Forum, The Changing Face of Agriculture, February 20-21, 2014, Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia

Thursday, February 20

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Track: Food Prices & Farm Income Outlooks
Food Price Outlook
This session will provide the latest perspective on food price inflation, the main factors that contribute to changes in food prices, and the consumer implications of rising food prices.
Moderator: Michael McConnell, Senior Consultant, Informa Economics, McLean, VA

Outlook for U.S. Food Prices and Inflation in 2014
A presentation of the latest Economic Research Service outlook for retail food prices in general and across major food categories, recent historical trends in food expenditure patterns, and the relationship between food prices and inflation in the general economy.
Richard Volpe, Economist, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC

What Do Commodity Prices Suggest About Food Price Trends?
Commodity prices have been highly volatile in recent years, and have led to concerns about food price inflation.  The prices of many commodities are now trending lower as supplies are increasing.  What does this suggest (if anything) about the long-term outlook for food prices?
Ron Trostle, Economist, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC

The Outlook for Global Commodity and Food Prices and Implications for Food Security
Keith Wiebe, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC


TRACK: International Trade
The China Puzzle:  The Changing Political, Regulatory & Marketing Environment
In 2012, China surpassed the United States to become the second largest global agricultural importer after the European Union. China has also emerged in recent years as the top U.S. agricultural export market, passing Mexico and Canada. In addition to a growing middle class and greater demand for high-value food, changing Chinese agricultural production and trade policies are expected to dramatically impact global trade flows over the next decade.  Speakers will address China’s domestic political environment and the impact on the reform process, China’s regulatory environment and the U.S. response, growth in Chinese horticultural imports and regulatory challenges, and food safety in China and its impact on market access. 
Moderator: Phil Karsting, Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, Washington, DC

China’s Agricultural Support Policies: Help or Hindrance?
Fred Gale, Senior Economist, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC

The Technology Imperative
Dennis Erpelding, Director, Government Affairs, Elanco, Greenfield, IN

The Impact of China’s Food Safety Policies on Trade
Scott Sindelar, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, Beijing, China


TRACK: The Next Generation
The New Agricultural Census
USDA's first release of preliminary data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture will occur at the Forum; panelists will cover the latest information on the number of farms, land in farms, value of sales and government payments, and demographics.

The preliminary 2012 Census of Agriculture results will be released at Noon EST on February 20, 2014. The preliminary report will be available online at In addition to the report, a press release, highlights document, and infographic will also be released.

The PPT presentation from the 1:30 p.m. Census session at the Agricultural Outlook Forum will be posted online following the session – also at Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Moderator: Cynthia Clark, Administrator, National, Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, Washington, DC

2012 Census of Agriculture Highlights
Hubert Hamer, Chair, Agricultural Statistics Board, USDA, Washington, DC


Changing Faces: The Demographics of U.S. Agriculture
Virginia Harris, Statistician, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, Washington, DC

The Financial Foundation of U.S. Agriculture
Troy Joshua, Chief, Environmental, Economics and Demographics Branch, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, Washington, DC

Implications for Future Farm Programs and Policy
Bob Young, Chief Economist & Deputy Executive Director, Public Policy, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, DC


TRACK: Conservation
Economics of Conservation
This session will explore one of the most important factors influencing the adoption and sustained use of conservation systems and their adjustment over time—namely does the practice have a positive economic return to the producer or the public?  Economic evaluation tools will be a part of each presentation. 
Moderator:  Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Washington, DC

Practice Adoption Economics
Mark Jennings will explore the economics of conservation practice adaption from the perspective of the agricultural producer. Jennings is always testing new opportunities–like growing two cash crops in the same field at the same time–and asking will my return be worth the expense?  He will outline the decision process, identify the key drivers, and discuss the tools he uses.  He will also discuss the farm financial circumstances to consider in each economic evaluation and speak to the need for additional tools to help farmers make sound economic decisions. 
Mark Jennings, Agricultural Producer, Washburn, ND

Ecosystem Service Economics
Catherine Phillips will explore the economics of ecosystem services from a regional landscape perspective.  Ms. Phillips will discuss how the benefits of conservation contribute to regional environmental objectives.  She will provide insight on the benefits of managing private decisions to improve ecosystem services or the resource.  Using examples from the forest sector she will discuss the tools used in conservation evaluations and identify key elements for inclusion. 
Cassie Phillips, Vice President of Sustainable Forests and Products, Weyerhaeuser Corporation 
Federal Way, WA


Are the Benefits to Society Worth the Costs of Conservation?
Susan Capalbo will explore the basis for Federal intervention to affect the economics of conservation that changes both the farm and resources decisions. What is society buying with technical and financial assistance? Why is society purchasing conservation? What tools are needed to do a “better” job of quantifying the costs and benefits of conservation? 
Susan Capalbo, Department Head and Professor, Applied Economics, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon


TRACK: Science
Protecting U.S. Animal & Plant Health from Invasive Pests
This session will discuss how USDA is protecting U.S. agricultural health from invasive pests in times of diverging stakeholder interests, and constraining resources. The session will focus on USDA’s collaborative work with States, industries, and in international trade.
Moderator: Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA, Washington, DC

State Perspective
California is the largest producer of agricultural products and the top exporting State. APHIS works with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on multiple fronts to combat the introduction and spread of pests and diseases. Secretary Karen Ross will speak about CDFA’s collaborative work with USDA to protect California’s agriculture against invasive pests and diseases.   
Karen Ross, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, CA

Industry Perspective
The National Poultry Improvement Plan is an excellent example of a well-organized campaign by private industry in partnership with Federal and State agencies to improve animal disease management for the purpose of enhancing product marketability. Dr. Ritter will speak about the poultry industry’s collaborative work with USDA.
G. Donald Ritter, Director of Health Services, Mountaire Farms, Inc., Millsboro, DE

Agricultural Trade Perspective
The speaker will discuss USDA’s roles in safeguarding U.S. agriculture and promoting exports, while balancing the interests of consumer advocacy groups and agricultural industry. Examples include: USDA’s management of the 2012 BSE discovery in California and the 2013 GMO wheat discovery in Oregon, the equivalency trade agreements for organic products, USDA’s leadership in SPS-related trade negotiations for the recent free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and on-going Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.
Suzanne Heinen, Senior Counselor to the Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA, Washington, DC

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

A Roadmap for Women in Agriculture
The session will detail the variety of career choices the panelists have taken as well as how they have shaped their future in the face of opportunities and challenges.  The panelists will discuss their views on the importance of impacting agricultural policy, removing barriers for women, and collaborations.         
Moderator:  Krysta Harden, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, USDA, Washington, DC

Autumn Veazey, Director, Government Relations, Land of Lakes, Washington, DC

Debbie Hamrick, Director of Specialty Crops, North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, Raleigh, NC

Kate Danner, Corn and Soybean Farmer, Roseville, IL

Leslie Wheelock, Director, Office of Tribal Relations, USDA, Washington, DC


TRACK: Food Price & Farm Income Outlooks
The Farm Income Outlook for 2014
This session will focus on the measures of the financial well-being of the farm economy, including farm household income.  It will rely heavily on information provided by the Economic Research Service.
Moderator: Todd Davis, Senior Economist, Farm Bureau, Washington, DC

Income Outlook for the U.S. Farm Sector in 2014
A presentation of USDA’s most recent estimates and forecasts of U.S. farm sector value added, net farm income and other financial characteristics for 2014.
Kevin Patrick, Economist, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC

Farm and Farm Household Income Trends
A discussion about various measures of farm household well-being, including on- and off-farm income, farm typology, farm size, etc.
Jeremy Weber, Economist, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC 

Is the Current Farm Prosperity Sustainable? 
A discussion about the factors that could either support or undermine the profitability of farming in the intermediate or long-term future. Issues discussed will include global economic growth patterns, interest rates, and land values.
Brent Gloy, Center for Commercial Agriculture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN


TRACK: International Trade
Expanding Consumer-Oriented Exports
Record 2013 exporters were largely the result of strong consumer-oriented exports, which are growing in importance relative to bulk and intermediate shipments.  Much of the impressive growth is a result of developing country demand and the spread of organized retailing throughout the world.  Though challenges exist in the form of trade barriers, the outlook for exports growth is bright.  Session speakers will address innovative ideas for marketing consumer-oriented products internationally, the rapid growth of organized retailing, and the increase in non-tariff trade barriers.
Moderator: Mike Dwyer, Director, Global Policy Analysis Division, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, Washington, DC

New Marketing Channels in China
Gary Clubb, Senior Business Development Manager, Tmall and Edith Huang, Senior Director of Lifestyle Products Department, Tmall

Organized Retail Growth in Developing Nations and the Impact on Food Imports
Sean Darragh, Executive Vice President, Global Strategies & Carmen Stacy, Director, Global Issues & Multilateral Affairs, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington, DC

Innovative Marketing in Competitive Markets
Susan Weller, International Marketing, United States Potato Board, Denver, CO


TRACK: The Next Generation
@USDA: Tweet, Meet & Succeed
The next generation at USDA looks very different from what it did 100 years ago. Therefore, we must adjust with the times. In this session, come and learn what it will take to “get and stay” in the game!
Moderator: Max Finberg, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Administration, USDA, Washington, DC

Success Through Internships
USDA Outlook Forum Diversity students, in addition to agency add-ins, will present what attracted them to agriculture and their success with internships. A collection of agency’s/organization’s internship programs will also be provided.
Candice Harvey, Economist, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, USDA, Washington, DC

Using Social Networks to Promote Agriculture
Social networking is a powerful way to reach tomorrow’s agriculture workforce and consumers. The speakers will discuss how youth currently use social networking, potential ways to use these tools to paint the Food and Agriculture Sector in a positive light, as well as branding and marketing tools to and from Agriculture. 
Alison Kosakowski, Marketing and Communications Director, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Richmond, VT


TRACK: Conservation
Sustainability – Are We Applying Our Critical Inputs Wisely?
This panel will discuss long-term water availability, phosphorous scarcity, and nitrogen usage.  Experts believe there will be significant shortages of water and phosphorous, and that farmers overuse nitrogen. Speakers will attempt to answer questions like: Are the input markets failing to send the right signals for optimal resource allocation and sustainability?  Can current research identify the optimal resource allocation?  Do we have the tools to know the right balance of efficient resource use and maximum sustainable production?
Moderator:  Otto C. Doering, III, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN

Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute, author of Peak Water, Washington, DC

Cliff Snyder, Nitrogen Program Director for the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Conway, AR

Steven J. Van Kauwenbergh, International Fertilizer Development Center, Research and Development Division, Shoals, AL


TRACK: Science
Nanotechnology in the Future of Agriculture & Forestry
Moderator: Hongda Chen, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Washington, DC

Nanotechnology: Thinking Big about Small Things
An overview of nanotechnology will cover what it is, recent trends in the field, and the coordinated Federal program known as the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
Lloyd J. Whitman, Deputy Director, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD

Nanotech Applications in Agriculture
A series of brief, taped presentations by:

  • Bosoon Park, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Athens, Georgia
  • Maria DeRosa, Associate Professor, Bioinorganic Chemistry, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  • Peter Sutovsky, Associate Professor, Reproductive Physiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
  • Sean Ireland, New Technologies and Market Ventures, Verso Paper Corp, University of Maine, Orono, ME

What Lies in the Future for Agricultural Nanotechnology?
Where does the future lie for nanotechnology in agriculture? What is possible? What are the barriers? What are the challenges?
Norman Scott, Professor, Emeritus, Department of Biological & Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and Chair, Board on Agricultural and Natural Resources, National Academies of Science, National Research Council