The first stop on their journey was the Smithfield Innovation center, where class members learned about cutting-edge technology and product testing. Over lunch, the class heard about the nationally recognized sustainability initiatives taking place at Smithfield Foods and the opportunities the company is embracing with social media to address consumer needs and concerns. The class also toured the Smithfield’s meat packing plant.
Stan Brantley, advisory council member and president of Amadas industries, discussed the company’s focus on diversified products for specialized operations. The fabrication shop showcased the construction of large farming equipment, while Amadas Coach showcased custom craftsmanship and design. Brantley and his wife graciously hosted dinner for the group and special guests. Commissioner of Agriculture Matt Lohr, also an advisory council member, discussed social media as an imperative interface for advocacy for the industry. Tom Loehr, vice president of Rolls-Royce Crosspointe, addressed the group to share his corporate challenges with global markets and future initiatives of industrial engineering and manufacturing in a way that integrates many of the same needs faced by agricultural technology.
Fellows had the opportunity to discuss agricultural trade and policy litigation with a VDACS global marketing specialist and the manager of Royal Fumigation. Both men discussed the great support of the state government in successful trade collaborations as well as the challenges and opportunities that exist in international trade. The Purdue Agribusiness Deep Water Port echoed many of these takeaways in addition to explaining the complexities and science of trading grains. The class finished off the evening with an intensive workshop on emotional intelligence and an engaging dialogue with a local agriculture teacher about peanuts, the City of Suffolk, and students who will enter our industry professions.
A tour of Commonwealth Cotton Gin, while in operation, allowed an opportunity to learn about cotton production from farmer and advisory council member, Paul Rogers. The Virginia Port Authority gave a dynamic presentation on trade and focused on the impact of agricultural exports and imports. The class then toured the Eastern Shore to discover the aquaculture, vegetable, and poultry initiatives that are taking place. Dinner was hosted at the Eastern Shore AREC with special guests.
Check out the VALOR blog for the fellows’ seminar reflections.