Focus on Ag

2012 Farmfest Forum, Panel Topics



Farmfest 2012 will feature an exciting line-up of feature forums, as well as a U.S. Senate and Congressional Candidates Forum. The forums will be held August 7, 8 and 9, in the forum tent on the Farmfest site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of Redwood Falls, Minn. The schedule for 2012 has a heavy emphasis on national and state agricultural policy issues, and on issues affecting rural Minnesota.

The schedule will feature the two candidate forums, as well as special forums on water quality issues, the renewable fuel standard, the University of Minnesota and the livestock industry, featuring nationally known speaker Trent Loos. Keynote addresses will be given by Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken and U of M President Eric Kaler. All of the forums will provide ample time for questions, and follow-up discussion by Panel members.

The Congressional Candidate’s Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issueswill be held on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 10:30 a.m. Congressional Candidates from Minnesota’s First, Second, Sixth and Seventh Congressional Districts were invited to participate. Confirmed candidates include Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson (D), and his challenger Lee Byberg (R); First District Congressman Tim Walz (D) and his opponents Mike Parry (R) and Alan Quist (R); and Mike Obermueller (D), who is endorsed in the Second District to challenge Congressman John Kline. A panel of agriculture leaders representing various farm organizations and commodity groups will pose questions to the candidates on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and rural communities. Ideas for questions may be submitted via e-mail to Kent Thiesse, Farmfest forum coordinator.

The U.S. Senate Candidate’s Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issuesis scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 10:30 a.m. The major candidates for U.S. Senate in Minnesota have agreed to participate in the forum, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), and challengers Kurt Bills from the Republican Party, and Glen Menze from the Independent Party. A panel of agriculture media representatives will pose questions to the candidates on a variety of issues affecting farmers and rural families.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton will deliver a keynote address at Farmfest on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 1 p.m. This will be followed by a feature forum at 1:15 p.m., Water Quality Initiatives: Future Impacts on Farmers?The focus will be on state and federal water quality initiatives that may affect farmers. Invited panel members will include the following: State Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke, MPCA Asst. Commissioner Rebecca Flood, Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farmers Union Vice President Gary Wertish and Minnesota Ag Water Resource Center Chair Lawrence Sukalski.

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken will deliver a keynote address at Farmfest on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 2:45 p.m. to kick-off feature forum: The Renewable Fuel Standard: Fueling the Agricultural and Energy Industries.The panel will include Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, along with Tim Rudnicki, executive director of Minnesota Biofuels Association; Brad Nelson, president of Minnesota Ethanol Producers Association; Chad Willis, chair of the National Corn Growers Association Ethanol Committee; and Doug Peterson, president of Minnesota Farmers Union.

Trent Loos, a nationally known and very entertaining agricultural speaker, will highlight a special livestock industry forum scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 1:15 p.m., Consumer Preferences: Future Changes for the Livestock Industry. Other livestock leaders on this panel will include Carissa Nath, AURI meat scientist; Duane Alberts, dairy producer and vice president of Minnesota Farm Bureau; Kevin Hugoson, Minnesota Pork Producers Association president; Don Schiefelbein, president of the Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association; and Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the Broiler and Egg Association of Minnesota. This forum will be followed by a special presentation by Trent Loos, Stop Defending Agriculture,at 3 p.m. in the forum tent, which is being sponsored by Minnesota Farm Bureau.

The feature forum on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 10:30 a.m. is Innovation in Agriculture: Opportunities from the University. The forum will feature opening comments by Eric Kaler, University of Minnesota president.

For more information on the Forums and other activities at Farmfest, including driving directions, go to the Farmfest website or contact Kent Thiesse, Farmfest Forum Coordinator via phone (507-381-7960) or e-mail.


Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at

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