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Around 60 farmers from 17 different nations will gather in Rock Island next week to discuss the struggles of farming and advancements in agriculture biotechnology.

From May 21 to 25, the Cornell Alliance for Science will host its second annual international program, offering farmers training in media engagement, public speaking and other communication skills. The training will end at the Rock Island Holiday Inn with a panel discussion about farming challenges such as drought, insect pests and plant diseases. 

The discussion will be live-streamed on Facebook between 9:30 and 11 a.m. Viewers may submit questions during the event. 

"People who are very disengaged from the realities of agriculture like to talk about what farmers 'need' or 'want,' but we rarely hear from farmers themselves," Director Sarah Evanega said. "This course will empower those who are actually engaged in feeding the world by giving them the skills to champion their own interests." 

Participants will travel to Rock Island from countries across the world, including Argentina, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, United Kingdom and Vietnam, according to a news release.

Samuel Crowell, an agricultural adviser with the U.S. Department of State, will be the May 25 keynote speaker. An expert on biotechnology regulatory policy, trade policy and emerging technologies, Crowell will discuss commercial rights to plant breeding techniques and how regulations differ between nations.

The course includes visits to Deere and Company World Headquarters in Moline and Cinnamon Ridge Farms, a family-owned eastern Iowa farm. 

For more information, contact the Cornell Alliance for Science at 808-651-4354.

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