WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — More than 600 leaders of the grain, feed, processing and export industry will examine major factors influencing U.S. agriculture’s future growth and competitiveness when they convene for the National Grain and Feed Association’s (NGFA) 117th annual convention, March 17-19 at the Westin St. Francis, San Francisco, California, U.S.  

The unprecedented global growth opportunities for agribusiness and food production will be the focus of the convention’s industry keynote speaker – Chris Policinski, president and chief executive officer, Land O’Lakes Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.

Meanwhile, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Darci Vetter will preview the Obama administrations agricultural and trade agenda.  She is expected to highlight negotiations currently underway to create a “new-era” trade agreement under the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, as well as the launch of trade negotiations between the United States and European Union.

The featured congressional speaker will be U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, who serves as the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock, Rural Development and Credit Subcommittee.

In addition, Bart Chilton, commissioner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will provide insights on high-frequency trading in the futures market, and the CFTC’s proposals for consumer protections.  He also is likely to touch on the CFTC’s upcoming review of the recently announced reduction in grain and oilseed futures market trading hours by the CME Group and Minneapolis Grain Exchange. 

Meanwhile, a three person-panel is slated to discuss technological advances and approaches to addressing marketability issues surrounding biotechnology-enhanced events.   Panelists are:  Cathy Enright, executive vice-president, food and agriculture, Biotechnology Industry Organization; Louis Finkel, executive vice-president of government affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers Association; and Randal Giroux, vice-president food safety, quality and regulatory, agricultural supply chain, Cargill, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. 

Ways agricultural leaders can better communicate with consumers on food safety and technological advancements will be the focus of Charlie Arnot, chief executive officer of the Center for Food Integrity, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.

Two major open forums also are scheduled:

• Impacts of FDA Proposed Food/Feed Safety Regulations on Grain Elevators, Feed Mills:  Dr. Dan McChesney, director of the office of surveillance and compliance at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, and NGFA Vice-President of Feed Services David Fairfield will address the agency’s proposed regulations implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. 
• Transportation:  Both rail and waterway transportation will be examined by a panel consisting of:  Tony Hatch, principal, ABH Consulting, who will address the perspectives of rail investors on rail infrastructure; Mike Steenhoek, executive director, Soy Transportation Coalition, who will discuss the results of a new study on rail infrastructure conducted for his organization; and Rick Calhoun, chairman of the NGFA’s Waterborne Commerce Committee and president, Cargo Carriers, Cargill, who will discuss inland waterway and port issues. 

The convention also features a golf tournament to benefit the National Grain and Feed Foundation, established in 1965.  

Complete convention program, registration and hotel information is available at the NGFA's web site at www.ngfa.org or by contacting the NGFA at  In addition, information from the convention can be found using the hashtag #ngfaconv13.