The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address for the 85th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, "Global Agriculture & Rural America in Transition," Feb. 26, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

This year the Forum will focus on a broad range of topical issues related to energy, trade, technology, farm policy, risk management and rural America. The Forum also will feature our traditional commodity supply and demand and food price outlooks.

Secretary Vilsack was sworn in as the 30th Secretary of USDA on Jan. 21, 2009. In 1998, he was elected Governor of Iowa, an office he held for two 4-year terms. During his tenure, he initiated a comprehensive effort to increase economic opportunity and started a combination of venture capital initiatives that focused on creating and retaining jobs. The initiatives created under his administration contributed to the rebuilding of local economies in small towns and rural communities across the state.

As Governor, he made Iowa a leader in alternative energy and renewable fuels. He created a regulatory and financial environment that allowed wind energy to emerge as a significant energy source, growing to the largest percentage of any state. Iowa also emerged as a leader in the production of ethanol and biodiesel during his tenure.

USDA has hosted this annual event since 1923 to provide farmers and ranchers, government, and agribusinesses with sound information for decision-making. The Forum begins at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 and ends at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27. For a roster of speakers, program preview and registration, go to www.usda.gov/oce/forum. Registration is $350 until Feb. 6 and $375 thereafter. Plenary speeches will be Webcast after 3:30 p.m. EST on Feb. 26, with speech and PowerPoint presentations posted online at the end of each day's sessions.