The economic outlook for animal agriculture and federal policy issues will be the chief topics of discussion at the fifth annual Ag Development Forum Thursday, Feb. 4, at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler also will deliver his annual State of Agriculture address during the forum, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Holshouser Building.

The forum will feature two panel discussions. The first will focus on the economic state of the beef, pork, poultry and dairy industries. Panelists will be Greg Doud, chief economist with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Kelly Zering, a pork industry expert at North Carolina State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Geoff Benson, a dairy industry expert and professor emeritus at NCSU; and Larry Haller, poultry economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The second panel discussion will highlight federal policy issues. Panelists will be Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University; Stephanie Mercier, chief economist for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee; and Leroy Watson, legislative director for the National Grange.

Other speakers will include Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange, and North Carolina State Grange President Jimmy Gentry.

Farmers, agribusiness professionals and others interested in agricultural policy are invited to the forum. Admission is free, and lunch will be provided. Registration is requested by Jan. 25. To register, go to www.ncagr.gov/agforum or call Christina Waggett at (919) 733-7125.

The forum is sponsored by the North Carolina State Grange and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It is being held in conjunction with the Southern Farm Show at the fairgrounds.