By Associated Press - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The 28th Nebraska Governor’s Ag Conference will focus on trade, food transparency and biotechnology.

Gov. Pete Ricketts and Agriculture Director Greg Ibach announced the lineup for this year’s event Wednesday, saying the conference represents a longstanding tradition for expanding Nebraska agriculture. The conference is an opportunity for policymakers, strategists, farmers and ranchers to network and problem-solve.

Ricketts said building relationships with partners like Denmark-based biotechnology company Novozymes during trade missions have helped determine how Nebraska should move forward. Nebraska agriculture needs to be at the forefront of global trade and emerging markets, he said.

“Exports not only increase the value of our commodities, putting more money in the pockets of our farmers and ranchers, but it also generates additional revenue within the business sector of local economics for things like transportation, storage and financing,” Ricketts said.

Ibach said 98 percent of Nebraska farms and ranches are family owned. As consumers become increasingly interested in where their food comes from, farm-to-table could become part of the state’s brand.

“We feed our own families the food that we’re growing for the world, and I think that’s part of the transparency in the story that we’re telling,” Ibach said.

Ricketts says agriculture is Nebraska’s top industry and its ripple effects are felt through the entire state. The conference will feature speakers from the Center for Food Integrity, Center for Strategic and International Studies and lead meatpacking company JBS USA.

The Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture reception will feature motivational speaker and author Gus Gustafson.

The governor invites anyone interested in agriculture to attend the conference March 2-3 in Kearney. Participants can register on the Department of Agriculture’s website.

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