Focus on Ag

Farmfest Forums to Cover Farm Bill, Renewable Energy, Ag Industry, Raising Livestock, Water Quality and Drainage



Farmfest will be held on August 6, 7 and 8 near the Gilfillan Estate, which is located 7 miles southeast of Redwood Falls, Minn. The 2013 edition of Farmfest will feature an exciting line-up of feature forums, which will be held in the new Wicks Buildings Farmfest Center on the Farmfest site. The forum schedule has a heavy emphasis on national and state agricultural policy issues, and on issues affecting the agriculture industry and rural Minnesota.

Reaching an Endpoint on a New Farm Billis the feature forum on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 10:30 a.m. 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 Association.

The Future Direction of Renewable Energy Policy?is the title of the forum scheduledfor Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 1:15 p.m. 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, along with Doug O’Brien, USDA under secretary for rural development. They will be joined by a panel of experts of renewable energy policy, including Dave Frederickson, Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture; Mike Rothman, Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce; 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 Perspectiveis the title of the morning forum on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 10:30 a.m. 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; television news reporters Boyd Huppert of KARE TV and John Lauritsen of WCCO TV; 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 Bill Zucker, Midwest Director of Ketchum, representing the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

Another feature forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 1:15 p.m.,: 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 Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association; Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota 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, Aug. 8, at 10:30 a.m., is 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 heldon Thursday, Aug. 8, at 1:30 p.m.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 p.m. that day, sponsored by Minnesota Farmers Union and the MN Farmers Union Insurance Agency.

Other special events at Farmfest in the Forum Tent on Wednesday, Aug. 7, include the MN Farm Bureau Breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m., the naming of the MN State Pork Ambassadors during the “Noontime Ag Jamboree,” and Matt Wohlman, Deputy Commissioner, MN Dept. of Agriculture, discussing the new Minnesota Water Quality Certification Program at 2:45 p.m. Deb Crusoe, new USDA State FSA Director, will make some brief comments on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 10:20 a.m.

A special forum, Enhancing Agriculture Production and Water Quality with Managed Drainage Systems, will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 3:00 p.m. 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. Another special forum, Understanding Irrigation Regulation and Permitting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 3 p.m. Panel members will include Al Peterson, President of the Irrigators Assn. of MN; Jerry Wright, retired U of M irrigation specialist; Jim Sehl and Scott Roemhildt, with the MN DNR.

Two special Farmfest grain marketing forums will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first marketing forum on Tuesday, Aug. 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, Aug. 8 at 9 a.m., Jeff Litrell and Keith Schlapkohl of FHR Farms will discuss Tools of the Trade.

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

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