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California Agricultural Technology Institute

Experts to address trade, water, immigration issues at upcoming agribusiness conference

Read more about our registration details.

Top economists will join with academic and business experts to discuss the economic outlook, global trade agreements, California’s water supply, immigration policy reform and other key issues at the 32nd Annual Agribusiness Management Conference to be held October 31 in Fresno.

Con photo 1Sponsored by Fresno State’s Center for Agricultural Business (CAB), Bank of America, Wells Fargo and the Zenith Insurance Company, the event will occur in partnership with supporting farm businesses, agencies and organizations. It will be held at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center downtown.

“Our markets are subject to the trends in the general economy and the global economy as well,” according to CAB Director Dr. Mechel Paggi. “The conference will feature expert speakers who will address these issues, and participants will be provided with supporting information and outlooks on specific commodities.”

Opening the half-day event with an 8 a.m. greeting will be the new President of Fresno State, Dr. Joseph Castro. Following opening remarks, at 8:15 a.m. Terry Barr, chief economist for CoBank, a national cooperative bank that is part of the farm credit system, will offer insights on upcoming economic challenges and opportunities in an address titled “Economic Outlook: Traversing the Minefield.”

Adding to the economic outlook will be a presentation by John Wainio, economist with the USDA Economic Research Service, who will discuss new developments in the global trade outlook in his presentation, “New Trade Agreements: Prospects for California Agriculture.”

Following a break, a panel will address the future of California’s water supply. Panelists include Ronald Jacobsma, general manager, Friant Water Authority; Jim Beck, Kern County Water Agency; and Thomas Birmingham, general manager, Westlands Water District. The panel will be moderated by Dr. David Zoldoske, director of the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State.

Wrapping up the morning sessions will be a discussion of the current state of immigration reform policy and its importance to California and the Central Valley. Offering a perspective on the progress in federal legislation will be Monte Lake of CJ Lake, LLC. Mr. Lake is a prominent Washington, DC lawyer who has provided counsel on labor and other issues facing agricultural interests in California for more than 30 years. Following Lake, Craig Reglbrugge, co-chair of the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform, will discuss the group’s view on prospective changes to existing policies. The panel will wrap up with remarks from Fresno County Sheriff Margret Mims, who will speak on the importance of immigration reform from the perspective of the law enforcement community.

To conclude the event, Jock O’Connell, one of California’s foremost authorities on world trade, global economic trends, and the internationalization of the Golden State’s economy, will offer his insights on the future in his presentation, “Imagining California in 2023: Economic Issues and Outlook.”

The conference is designed for farmers, farm managers, attorneys, appraisers, insurance personnel, processors, accountants, and others involved in California’s agribusiness industry.

Early registration fee is $100. Late or walk-in is $125. For more information, call 559.278.4405 or visit the CAB website at