U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham — along with U.S. Reps. Allen Boyd, Adam Putnam and Karen Thurman — are among the list of prominent leaders invited to speak at the First International Agricultural Trade and Policy Conference hosted by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and AgriculturalSciences (UF/IFAS in Gainesville, Oct. 31-Nov.2.

"The recent terrorist attacks and their impact on the world financial community have complicated the international trade picture, adding an element of fear and uncertainty," said John VanSickle, professor in UF’s food and resource economics department and organizer of the conference.

"Moreover, since NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was implemented, we have experienced a surge in imports and lower crop prices. President Bush’s proposal to expand free trade throughout the Americas could have a significant impact on all of agriculture in the United States," VanSickle said.

Topics to be discussed include the 2002 farm bill, international trade and trade agreements, international trade and the evolution of multi-national firms, a research agenda for agriculture and the outlook for southern crops, said VanSickle, who also serves as director of UF’s International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center.

Mike Martin, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources, will give opening remarks on Oct. 31 at 1 p.m., followed by a welcoming address by UF President Charles Young. Ann Veneman is invited to deliver the keynote address titled "The Administration’s Agenda for Farm Policy and International Trade."

Graham is invited to deliver the Oct. 31 dinner address, "Research and Education to Insure a Viable Agriculture in Florida and the Southeast."

Boyd, who represents Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, will discuss farm policy priorities for southern producers. Putnam, from Florida’s 12th Congressional District, will speak on international trade and farm policy, particularly the need to establish priorities for Florida and southern producers. Thurman, from Florida’s 5th Congressional District, will discuss UF’s role in international trade.

Allen Johnson, chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, D.C., will speak on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas and its impact on southern agriculture in the U.S.

Sponsored by UF/IFAS, the UF Center for International Business Education and Research, Dixie Lime Products Company and the Florida Farm Bureau, the conference will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Gainesville.

Registration fee for the conference, which includes refreshments and meals, is $300. For more information, visit the conference Website at www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/atpc/