Dear Fellow Nebraskans: The 25th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference will be held February 12-13 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney. I invite all Nebraskans to attend this event and participate in discussions that focus on the future of the state's number one industry. The theme for this year’s conference is “A Platform for Nebraska Agriculture’s Future.” The conference will challenge the farmers and ranchers, agribusiness representatives, and policy and business leaders in attendance to think about some of the key policies and practices that will drive agriculture in the coming decade. Kicking off this year’s conference will be Dr. Roger Beachy, with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo. Dr. Beachy will discuss the future of biotechnology, and how new research and policy considerations may influence opportunities for Nebraska. There has been a great deal of discussion in Nebraska and across the nation the past few years about livestock production practices and livestock welfare in general. We will have two speakers who will address this topic – Tyson Redpath and Dr. Ronnie Green. Tyson Redpath is with The Russell Group of Arlington, Va. He will discuss the effects of state animal welfare laws on interstate commerce. Dr. Ronnie Green, vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will discuss a UNL analysis of Nebraska’s position within the United States as a food producer now, and in the future. We’ll also hear from Jerry Hagstrom, with the Hagstrom Report. He’ll provide an analysis of current activity in Washington, D.C., that could affect Nebraska agriculture, including the status of the farm bill, results of activity related to the federal budget and overall deficit, and other federal action that may influence the future for farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. In addition to these policy issues, we will focus on the near-term outlook for drought in the state. Nebraska Climatologist Al Dutcher will provide an overview of what to expect. This information will be valuable to our farmers and ranchers as they work to determine what actions they can take in their operations to lessen the drought’s impact. Agriculture is an important part of our economy and as we celebrate this 25th anniversary of the Governor’s Ag Conference I look forward to hearing from our speakers and discussing the important issues that will challenge agriculture in the months, years and decades ahead. I encourage Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness leaders to attend, as well as all Nebraskans because each one of us has a stake in the future success of this industry. Registration information is available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture website at www.agr.ne.gov or by calling 1-800-831-0550.