Farmfest Forums to Focus on Farm Bill and Ag Policy Issues

July 24, 2023


An exciting lineup of feature forums are planned for Farmfest in 2023 on August 1, 2, and 3. The forums will be held in the Wick Buildings Forum and Education Center on the Farmfest Site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. The forums this year will have a heavy emphasis on the new Farm Bill and other key topics and policy issues affecting farm families and rural communities.

One of the Farmfest feature forums this year will be a “U.S. House Ag Committee Farm Bill Listening Session”, which will be hosted by Congressman G.T. Thompson, Chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. The Farm Bill “Listening Session” will be held on Wednesday, August 2, from 9:30 to 11:45 AM. All members of the U.S. House Ag Committee have been invited to participate in the Farm Bill Listening session at FARMFEST.

Several members of Minnesota’s U.S. House have already committed to participation in this forum, including Congressman Brad Finstad, Congresswomen Angie Craig, congressman tom Emmer, Congresswomen Michelle Fischbach, and Congressman Pete Stauber.

During the “Listening Session” there will be opportunities to hear from the U.S. House Ag Committee leadership, as well as to make comments to the Committee on issues related to development of the next Farm Bill. Persons that are interested in offering comments during the Farm Bill Listening Session should sign-up ahead of time online by clicking  here to register ahead of time. Please note, signing up in advance does NOT guarantee you or someone from your organization an opportunity to speak. This listening session is open to the public, and the U.S. House Ag Committee will do it’s best to accommodate all speaking requests.

Robert Bonnie, USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture will provide the keynote address for a feature forum titled:

“The New Farm Bill and USDA Ag Policy Issues” on Tuesday, August 1 at 10:30 AM. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will also be present for this forum and will introduce Under Secretary Bonnie. The forum panel will include the following leaders of national and state farm organizations: Scott Vanderwal, American Farm Bureau Vice President, Rob Larew, National Farmers Union President, Tom Haag, National Corn Growers Assn.

President, Lori Stevermer, National Pork Producers Council President-Elect, and Bob Worth, Minnesota Soybean Growers Assn. President. This forum will focus on the upcoming new Farm Bill and other national policy issues and programs that are administered through USDA.

U.S. Trade Ambassador Doug McKalip from the U.S. Trade Office will be the featured speaker at a forum titled:

“U.S. Ag Export and Trade Policy”, which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 1 at 9:30 AM. This forum will provide an opportunity to get the latest information and details on current and potential U.S. trade agreements, as well as get updates on some of the challenges in trade policies and U.S. ag exports.

A feature forum titled: “Perspectives on Minnesota Ag and Rural Policy Issues” will be held on Wednesday, August 2 at 1:15 PM. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz will deliver the opening comments for the forum at 1:10 PM. This forum will be an opportunity to learn more about some of the recently passed legislation and State policy issues that may affect Minnesota’s agriculture industry and rural communities. The forum panel will include Thom Peterson, MN Agriculture Commissioner, Sarah Strommen, MN DNR Commissioner, Nancy Daubenberger, MN DOT Commissioner, and Peter Tester, MPCA Deputy Commissioner. The State administrative officials will be joined on the panel by  Rep. Samantha Vang, MN House Agriculture Committee Chair, Sen. Aric Putnam, MN Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Rep. Paul Anderson, and Sen. Torrey Westrom.

The afternoon feature forum at Farmfest on Tuesday, August 1, at 1:15 PM is titled: “Understanding ClimateSmart Practices and Policies”. This intriguing forum will provide background information on some of the new “climate-smart” initiatives and carbon sequestration efforts that are currently being implemented, as well as be an opportunity to hear from farmers and experts that have experience with these practices. Panel members will include: Jonathan Matz, MN NRCS Asst. State Conservationist, Ariel Kagan, MN Farmers Union, Lief Fixen, the Nature Conservancy, Vincent Gauthier, Environmental Defense Fund, and Lauren Servick, MN Pork Producers Assn. They will be joined by farm operators Nathan Collins, MN Farm Bureau, and Grant Breitkreutz, MN State Cattleman’s Assn., and Harmon Wilts, Agronomist with Dekalb/Asgrow.

The “Women in Ag Forum” will be held on Thursday morning, August 3, starting at 10:45 AM. At the conclusion of the forum, the finalists for the 2023 Farmfest “Woman of the Year” will be introduced, concluding with the announcement of the this year’s winner. The “Farm Family of the Year” Recognition Program will be held on Thursday, August 3, at 1:15 PM, honoring approximately 80 farm families from throughout Minnesota that have been selected at the county level for this special recognition. This event is jointly sponsored by the University of Minnesota and the IDEAg Group, LLC.

A free pancake breakfast sponsored by MN Farm Bureau will be held from Wednesday, August 2, from 8:0010:00 AM, hosted by MN Farm Bureau President Dan Glessing and other MN Farm Bureau leaders. A special “Ag Outlook Forum” is scheduled for Tuesday, August 1 at 2:45 PM, which feature an overview of the U.S. ag economy and commodity markets, as well as an update on current crop and weather conditions. Speakers include Sam Kieffer, American Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy, Mark Schultz, Grain Marketing Analyst with Northstar Commodities, Dave Nicolai, U of M Extension Educator in Crops, and Matthew Wohlman, Vice President of Government and Industry Relations with Land O Lakes.

There are also special programs targeted toward livestock producers at Farmfest this year. The University of Minnesota is hosting a “Manure Applicator Certification Program” on Thursday morning August 3 from 8:00 to 10:30 AM. Other special livestock programs will be held at 11:30 AM each day at Farmfest. Topics include: “Climate-Smart Practices for Livestock Producers” on Tuesday, August 1, “Current Status of the Minnesota Livestock Industry” on Wednesday, August 2, and Battling Livestock Diseases in Minnesota” on Thursday, August 3.

For more details on the FARMFEST forums and presentations, please contact Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator (507-381-7960) or For more information on the exhibits, plots, activities and other details at FARMFEST, please refer to the IDEAg FARMFEST website at:



Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Sr. Vice President,

MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN.  (Phone — (507) 381-7960)

E-mail —  Web Site —


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