College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

UMD AREC Conference Focused on Commodity Price Prospects, Food Policy, Bay Water Quality, and Ag Legislation

2016 Agricultural Outlook and Policy Conference

College land grants, the food modernization act, water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were some of the topics that were covered at The Outlook and Policy Conference hosted by the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC) on Dec. 14 in Annapolis at the DoubleTree Hotel.

The conference was created with the idea that there be an annual workshop about policy issues in the state of Maryland that appeal to government, staff, nonprofit organizations and other policy makers, according to Lori Lynch, an organizer of the event.

“We try to identify new issues, evolving things, that are really useful for people to know about, and we always ask participants to identify issues for [the conference] next year,” said Lynch.

The conference has been hosted by AREC for over 20 years.

“We’re trying to reach producers, agricultural service people, including extension and faculty, producer groups, representatives from producer groups, and representatives from the department of agriculture,” said Paul Goeringer, who is an AREC professional track faculty member.

Goeringer discussed a class action lawsuit that involves GMOs, and how the results of the lawsuit could influence future companies.

The lawsuit is against Syngenta, a company that produces agricultural chemicals and seeds. Several years ago, the company released a new corn variety that was approved in the United States. It was after this type of corn was being grown that China became a large buyer of American corn.

However, the new corn variety was not approved in China, and in November 2013, they began to reject all shipments of corn. It was in December 2014 that the corn variety was approved.

Throughout 2014, multiple lawsuits were made against Syngenta. In the class action lawsuit, it is argued that Syngenta should have verified that the corn was approved in China beforehand.

At the conference, Goeringer discussed the potential limitations that would be placed on companies in the future if the plaintiffs are successful with their lawsuit.

“Our goals include highlighting research from the college and the department, how what we are working on can impact citizens lives by getting people to talk about market outlooks,” said Goeringer. “We wrap up the year and let people know what the future holds for next year.”

The conference also featured:

  • College's Land Grant Responsibility, Dean Craig Beyrouti, AGNR
  • Commodity Price Prospects for 2017, Kevin McNew, President GeoGrain and Adjunct AREC Professor
  • Farm to School Panel, lead by Dr. Mary Zaki
  • Farm Bill Commodity Program Selection, Dr. Howard Leathers
  • 2017 Legislative Update, Colby Ferguson, Maryland Farm Bureau and Matt Teffeau, Maryland Department of Agriculture
  • Behavioral Response to Agricultural Cost Sharing and Implications for Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Dr. David Newburn
  • Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Justine Beaulieu, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture.

Conference details and the full agenda are available on the AREC web site.

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