Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr will lead the opening morning keynote address for the 2nd annual edition of the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East, September 19-20, 2023, at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) Institute Conference Center in Danville, VA. Secretary Lohr’s presentation sets the stage for two days of education and networking built around the summit’s goal of bringing CEA business and academic community members together to boost growth opportunities for the entire sector.
The CEA Summit East is co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con, the largest vertical farming | CEA gathering, and the CEA Innovation Center – a partnership between the IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
During his keynote address, “Virginia’s Commitment to Next Generation Agriculture: Leading the Indoor Farming Revolution,” Secretary Lohr will discuss the state’s leadership role in the CEA sector, including its investment in research and development, workforce training, and infrastructure to support CEA industry growth. The session will give attendees valuable insights into Virginia’s strategic CEA plans, initiatives, support mechanisms, and opportunities that exist for collaboration and innovation.
Matthew Lohr was raised on a Virginia-century family farm in the Shenandoah Valley. As a fifth-generation farmer, he has spent his entire life working for the betterment of the agricultural industry and rural America.
He developed his passion for public service and agricultural policy while serving as both a state and national FFA officer before graduating from Virginia Tech with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Education. He has more than 30 years of experience as a professional leader and communicator.
In early 2022, he was appointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin to serve as Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. In this role, he serves in the governor’s cabinet and oversees three state agencies – the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Virginia Racing Commission.
“We are honored to have Secretary Lohr join us for the 2nd annual CEA Summit East. Virginia’s unique advantages make it an ideal hub for CEA companies, and Secretary Lohr’s participation in our event further underscores the state’s commitment to fostering CEA industry innovation and growth. His keynote is the perfect kick-off to the insightful discussions, networking, and growth opportunities that will all be part of this year’s event,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO of Indoor Ag-Con.
“At the CEA Innovation Center, our mission revolves around moving the CEA industry forward through research, educational programming, and industry support,” adds Dr. Scott Lowman, Co-Director of the CEA Innovation Center and Vice President of Applied Research at IALR. “We are especially excited to have Secretary Lohr lead our keynote and highlight the pivotal role that public-private partnerships play in driving the growth of this sector. With his keynote, we look forward to showcasing how Virginia’s collaborative efforts are driving advancements that resonate far beyond our state borders.”
The CEA Summit East is custom-tailored for new and well-seasoned CEA industry members from throughout the Eastern US, including indoor and greenhouse growers, facility owners and operators, educators, government officials, real estate developers, architects, construction specialists, sales and marketing teams and others.
During the two-day event, industry members will have the opportunity to hear from CEOs, researchers, and experts leading keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions; explore tabletop exhibits presenting the latest CEA innovations and services; and enjoy a host of networking opportunities ranging from meals and coffee breaks to an evening social event.