California's new secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture, A. G. Kawamura, will be the keynote speaker at the 2004 World Ag Expo Kick-Off Conference Monday, Feb. 9 at the conference's noon luncheon at the International Agri-Center's Heritage Complex.

Kawamura is a third-generation grower and shipper from Orange County.

The pre-Expo conference also will include debates on ag-related issues in addition to seminars on popular topics:

  • “Agricultural Issues Debate: Water Quality” will be moderated by John Wallace, Dan Dooley , attorney with Dooley and Herr and Kevin Hall of the Sierra Club.

  • “Being an Advocate for Agriculture” features George Soares, a Sacramento attorney and lobbyist, and Jack King of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

  • “Women at the Top: Succeeding in a Male-Dominated Industry” features panelists Kim Ruiz Beck, Ann Wiese and Loren Booth, and is moderated by Nancy Pitigliano.

The day starts at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast, and ends with a 4 p.m. wine and cheese reception. Tickets are $30 per person, which covers all of the day's activities. Call (559) 688-1751 for reservations.