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2013 FARMFEST Forums Scheduled

Written by: Kent Thiesse

FARMFEST will feature an exciting line-up of feature forums in 2013, according to Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator. The forums will be held August 6, 7, and 8, in the new Wicks Buildings FARMFEST Center on the FARMFEST Site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of  Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Thiesse said the forum schedule for 2013 has a heavy emphasis on National and State agricultural policy issues, and on issues affecting rural Minnesota.


Senator Al Franken, and Congressmen Collin Peterson and Tim Walz will be part of FARMFEST forums on Tuesday, August 6. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has been invited to make a keynote address on Thursday, August 8 at 10:15 AM. All of the forums will provide ample time for questions, and follow-up discussion by Panel members. The musical group “Uncle Roy and the Boys”, sponsored by AgStar Financial Services, will provide musical entertainment in the new FARMFEST building.


"Reaching an Endpoint on a New Farm Bill” is the title of the feature forum on Tuesday, August 6, at 10:30 AM. This will be a very critical discussion as Congress tries to reach a compromise on a new Farm Bill. Congressman Collin Peterson, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, and Congressman Tim Walz, also a U.S. House Ag Committee member, will be participating in this panel discussion. They will be joined by Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President, Dale Moore, Public Policy Director for American Farm Bureau, and Bob Worth, Vice President of the American Soybean Assn.


“The Future Direction of Renewable Energy Policy ?”  is the title of the forum scheduled for Tuesday, August 6, at 1:15 PM. The forum will provide an overview of current and potential national and state policies on the future of renewable energy industry, including ethanol, biodiesel, wind, solar, biomass, etc. Minnesota Senator Al Franken will keynote this forum. He will be joined by a panel of experts of renewable energy policy, including Dave Frederickson, MN Commissioner of Agriculture; State Representative Mike Beard, who is a member of the MN House Energy Policy Committee; Doug Bervan, Vice President of Corporate Affairs with POET; John Brekke, Vice President of Great River Energy; and Tom Haag, President of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. 


The "Viewing the Agriculture Industry from a Media Perspective" is the title of the morning forum on Wednesday, August 7, at 10:30 AM. The focus of this forum will be on how the agriculture industry is viewed by the main-stream media, as well as how agriculture’s message can be communicated to the non-farm public. Tom Rothman of the University of Minnesota will moderate this exciting panel of media representatives. Panel members will include Lori Sturdevant, editorial writer and columnist for the Star Tribune; John Lauritsen, news reporter for WCCO Television; Mark Steil, news reporter for MN Public Radio; Blois Olson, writer of “Ag Take” for Fluence Media; Don Davis, MN Capitol Bureau for the Forum News Service; and Gene Stoel, executive board member of the U.S. Farm & Ranch Alliance.

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Another feature forum is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7, at 1:15 PM, and is titled : "How We Raise Our Livestock …… Who Should Decide ?".  This forum will focus on efforts by activist groups, the retail food industry, lawmakers, and others to have input on how we raise our livestock. Panel members will include Randy Spronk, President of the National Pork Producers Council; Dallas Hockman, Policy Analyst with the National Pork Producers Council; Dar Geiss, President of the MN State Cattleman’s Association; Steve Olson, Executive Director of the MN Turkey Growers Assn. and the MN Broiler & Egg Assn.; and Bob Lefrebvre, Executive Director of the MN Milk Producers Assn.


The feature forum on Thursday, August 8, at 10:30 AM., is titled : “Future Opportunities in the Minnesota Agriculture Industry", and will focus on the wide ranging career opportunities available in today’s agriculture industry. MN Commissioner of Agriculture, Dave Frederickson, will provide some overview comments, and the panel will be moderated by Brad Schloesser, Dean of the Southern MN Center for Agriculture. Panel members will include Mallory Pagel, State FFA President; Karen Richter, National Pork Board President; Adam Fischer, U of M Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations; Kim Lippert, Chair of the Ridgewater College Agriculture Dept., Kristi Schaffer, ag business student at NDSU; Luke Daninger, with Land O’Lakes, and Glen Groth, dairy producer from Winona County.


The “Farm Family of the Year” Recognition Program will be held on Thursday, August 8, at 1:30 PM. Approximately 70 farm families from throughout Minnesota have been selected at the county level for this special recognition. This event is jointly sponsored by FARMFEST and the University of Minnesota. A free watermelon feed will be held at 1:00 PM that day, sponsored by Minnesota Farmers Union and the MN Farmers Union Insurance Agency.


Deb Crusoe, new USDA State FSA Director, will make some brief comments on Tuesday, August 6, at 10:20 AM. A special Forum titled “Enhancing Agriculture Production and Water Quality with Managed Drainage Systems” will also be held on Tuesday, August 6, at 3:00 PM. This Forum will be sponsored by the “Friends of the Minnesota Valley”, and will moderated by Scott Sparlin from that organization. Panel members will include Charlie Schaefer, President of Agri-Drain; Mark Dittrich, water quality specialist with the MN Dept. of Agriculture, and Brian Hicks, farm operator from Redwood County.


Other special events at FARMFEST in the Forum Tent on Wednesday, August 7, include the MN Farm Bureau Breakfast from 8:00-10:00 AM, the naming of the Minnesota State Pork Ambassadors during the “Noontime Ag Jamboree”, and a special forum at 3:00 PM titled : “Understanding Irrigation Regulation and Permitting”. Matt Wohlman, Deputy Commissioner of the MN Dept. of Agriculture will discuss the new “Minnesota Water Quality Certification Program” on Wednesday, August 7 at 2:45 PM.


Two special FARMFEST grain marketing forums will be held at 9:00 AM on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first marketing forum on Tuesday, August 6, will feature Bryce Anderson, DTN agricultural weather expert, and Todd Hultman, DTN grain marketing analyst. The marketing forum on Wednesday, August 7, which will be part of the MN Farm Bureau Breakfast, will feature Mark Schultz from Northstar Commodities. On Thursday, August 8 at 9:00 AM, Jeff Litrell of FHR Farms will discuss their innovative soil fertility program.


For more information on the forums at FARMFEST, please contact Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator (507-381-7960) or (