Rural economic development in the global marketplace will be the focus of a national meeting May 16-18 in St. Louis aimed at state agriculture directors.

"Geographical Indications and Sustainable Rural Development: Exploring the Connections," an invitation-only conference at the Radisson Hotel in Clayton, will bring together trade officials, policy makers and researchers from the U.S. and Europe to discuss international trade issues and explore the potential for developing a labeling system to promote regional specialty foods and wines in the United States.

European countries have used labels of origin, also called geographic indications, for centuries to identify food and wine products based on the region in which they are produced.

"Labels of origin are one of the biggest trade issues between the United States and the European Union," said conference organizer Elizabeth Barham, assistant professor of rural sociology at from the University of Missouri-Columbia. "This conference will refocus the debate over labeling onto sustainable rural development."

The Missouri Regional Cuisines Project is a partnership among the local communities, MU Extension, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; the Missouri Division of Tourism; the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Southeast Missouri State University; and Southwest Missouri State University.

For more information about the regional cuisine project, go to

Source: University Release