Two of the most serious agricultural issues of the times – food safety and water resources – will be the lead topics of discussion at the 27th Annual Agribusiness Management Conference on Nov. 18 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Fresno.

The conference in recent years has drawn more than 400 participants from across California to learn of the latest developments and trends in agriculture and agribusiness, both locally and globally. It is sponsored by the Center for Agricultural Business (CAB) at California State University, Fresno and Bank of America.

“We are looking at the critical issues facing California agriculture, and there are many,” stated CAB director Mickey Paggi. “We thought that at least for this year, we must look at the recurring problems with food safety and the dire consequences of water shortages.”

The food safety and water topics will be addressed during panel presentations with input and questions from the audience.

Prior to the panels, economist John B. Penson Jr., Regents Professor and Stiles Professor of Agriculture at Texas A&M University, will provide the morning keynote address. Penson conducts research in the areas of finance and the macroeconomics of agriculture. He is the recipient of several awards, among them the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Agriculture at Southern Illinois University, where he received his doctorate.

Providing the conference keynote luncheon address will be A.J. Yates, a Fresno County farmer who has served in top-level administrative positions for both the California and U.S. agricultural departments over the past 17 years.

Food safety panelists will be representatives of government regulatory agencies, growers and the media. Panelists include Barbara Cassens, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s San Francisco District; Trevor V. Suslow, extension research specialist for postharvest quality and safety for the University of California, Davis; Jim Prevor, the “Perishable Pundit,” founder and editor-in-chief of Produce Business and Deli Business magazines; and Ed Beckman, president of California Tomato Farmers.

The water panel will feature U.S. congressman Jim Costa and Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

A special panel will be called to address another topic – Succession Planning for Farmers, Ranchers and Ag Business. Specialists in finance will discuss the one thing business owners do have control over during uncertain financial times – how they plan their business. Panel members are Kevin Spafford, founder of the legal firm Legacy by Design; Neil Koenig, a family business and management consultant; and Kenneth J. Fransen, a partner in the law firm of Bolen, Fransen and Russell.

Conference attendees will receive commodity reports on wine and table grapes, raisins, tree fruit, almonds, walnuts, citrus, tomatoes, dairy, beef, cotton, and feed grains and protein meals.

The event will conclude following the luncheon. Registration is $100 (postmarked by Oct. 31). For additional registration or conference information, call 559.278.4405 or visit the CAB Web site listed below.

(Copy by Steve Olson of the California Agricultural Technology Institute).

Related link: California Agricultural Technology Institute at Fresno State