February 29, 2024

Interpretive Summary: USDA holds 100th Annual Agriculture Forum

USDA holds 100th Annual Agriculture Forum

By: Sydney Sheffield 

Earlier this month, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) held the 100th Annual Agriculture Forum. The forum is the largest held by the USDA, with over 1,700 in-person attendees and thousands more virtual attendees, comprising farmers and ranchers, food and ag industry representatives, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations. The theme for 2024 was "Cultivating the Future” which featured more than 30 sessions and 120 speakers. Highlights of the forum are detailed below. 

USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opened the event with a keynote address underscoring USDA’s progress in creating a new model that allows agricultural producers of all sizes to thrive. This includes a focus on bolstering local and regional food systems and creating new sources of revenue through renewable energy and ecosystem markets to build a future that is more profitable, sustainable, and resilient for American producers. USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small later moderated a panel of state agriculture commissioners, who spoke about the local impact of this model. 

The discussion topics focused on the future of agriculture, producer challenges, and the implementation of USDA investments in food and agriculture. Another panel composed of producers and industry experts, discussed how science, technology, and innovation are positioning farmers and ranchers to prosper.

Raj Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, spoke to the full forum on the domestic and global agriculture challenges in the years ahead. Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University, colluded on the first day of the forum with a speech on innovating agriculture’s future.

Day 2 of the USDA forum featured speakers exploring ways to foster diverse opportunities for United States agriculture exports in the global marketplace. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke virtually regarding United States foreign policy, aimed at shaping and protecting America’s interests. The United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed the topic of the current global trade policy landscape, as well as bilateral and multilateral engagement to increase export market opportunities for the United States agricultural sector.

To conclude the events, the USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack monitored a panel discussion on government efforts toward market promotion, trade policy, and capacity building to expand United States agricultural exports. The panel consisted of United States Representative Tai, MaryKay L. Carlson, United States Ambassador to the Philippines, and Marc E. Knapper, United States Ambassador to Vietnam.