MONROE, La. — Louisiana farmers and agribusiness leaders will have the opportunity to continue discussing issues facing agriculture and working toward solutions at the 2004 AgOutlook Conference in Monroe.

Operating under the theme of "Agriculture for the Future," the conference is set for Jan. 15 at the Holiday Inn Suites and Conference Center on U.S. 165 in Monroe. It will lead up to the opening of Ag Expo 2004 in Monroe.

The 2004 conference came about as an extension of a highly successful Ag Crisis Summit held in 2003 after storms and other problems meant many of the state's farmers faced one of their worst years ever.

"The objective of the Ag Crisis Summit in 2003 was to explore both short-term and long-term policy options that could help to address the current agricultural crises," said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson. "And the Ag Crisis Summit resulted in the emergence of four major areas or concern or issues facing Louisiana farmers.

"Now, this year's conference is about beginning to address those concerns and looking toward the future."

The 2004 AgOutlook Conference will feature experts discussing topics such as payment limitations, international trade, commodity outlooks, alternative land uses and precision agriculture.

Those come in response to the four critical issues facing agriculture that were identified by participants last year — commodity prices, input costs and U.S. trade policy; governmental regulations; the need for increased government investment in research; and the need for public education about agriculture.

"We think this conference is a great way for people to continue to play a vital role in addressing the future of agriculture — and continuing to find solutions to current issues facing agriculture," Richardson said. "Better yet, because of the location, we hope to make this a tri-state event that draws participants from Mississippi and Arkansas, as well as Louisiana."

There is no registration fee for participating in the conference, but advance registration is required. To register or obtain additional information, visit the conference Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/2004agoutlook/.

The 2004 AgOutlook Conference is sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, North Louisiana Agri-Business Council, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Cattlemen's Association and Bayer CropScience.