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Two congressional candidate forums at IDEAg Farmfest

Two congressional candidate forums at IDEAg Farmfest

IDEAg FARMFEST in 2016 will feature an exciting line-up of feature forums, including forums on ag water quality, farm financial strategies, and two congressional candidates forums on agriculture and rural issues. The forums will be held Aug.2, 3, and 4, in the Wicks Buildings FARMFEST Center, near the middle of the show site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, seven miles southeast of  Redwood Falls, Minnesota. The forum schedule has a heavy emphasis on national and state rural and agricultural policy issues, as well as featuring some special events and activities. 

The FARMFEST forum schedule will also feature “Ag Innovator’s Day” on Aug. 2, which will include a keynote presentation on the future of the food and agriculture industry, as well as other special presentations. In addition, the forum schedule includes two special keynote presentations Aug. 3, by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Scott VanderWal, Vice President of American Farm Bureau. In addition, there will be two grain marketing presentations, the Farm Family Recognition program, and the usual FARMFEST favorites, including the Minnesota Farm Bureau Pancake Breakfast Aug.3, from 8 a.m.- 10 a.m..

This year there will be two separate "Congressional Candidates Forums on Agriculture and Rural Issues".

The first candidates forum will be Aug. 2, from 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m., and will feature congressional candidates from Minnesota’s First, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Congressional Districts. The second congressional candidates forum will be held Aug. 3, from 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m., featuring candidates from Minnesota’s Second and Third Congressional Districts. A panel of agriculture leaders representing various farm organizations and commodity groups, as well as ag media representatives, will pose questions to the candidates on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and rural communities.

The following congressional candidates have confirmed participation in the candidates forum at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 2:  First District Congressman Tim Walz (D) and his opponents Jim Hagedorn (R) and Steve Williams (R), Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson (D), and his challengers David Hughes (R) and Amanda Lynn Hinson (R), as well as Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer (R), and one of his opponents, David Snyder (D). Congressman Rick Nolan (D) from the Eighth District and other candidates have been invited, and may still be added.

Second congressional district candidates confirmed to participate in the candidates forum Aug. 3, at 10:30 a.m. include : Angie Craig (D), Jason Lewis (R), Darlene Miller (R), John Howe (R), and Paula Overby (I). Second District Congressman John Kline (R) is not seeking re-election in 2016. Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen (R) and his opponent Terri Bonoff (D) were also invited to attend, but are not confirmed at this time.

“Buffers, WOTUS, and Other Ag Water Quality Issues” is the title of a special feature Forum from 1:10 p.m.- 2:45 p.m. Aug. 3. The forum will be kicked off by keynote presentations from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Scott VanderWal, Vice President of American Farm Bureau. The forum panel will include Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President, Don Parrish, Senior Policy Analyst with American Farm Bureau, Lawrence Sukalski, American Soybean Assn. Board Member, and Kirby Hettver, Secretary of the MN Corn Growers Association.

The panel will also include Minnesota State Representative Paul Torkelson, Warren Formo, Executive Director of the Minnesota Ag Water Resource Center, Dave Weirens, Assistant Director of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and Matthew Wohlman, Assistant Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture. 

“Ag Innovator’s Day”  which is set for Aug. 2 at FARMEST, which is a new event in the Wicks Buildings Forum Center in 2016. In addition to the congressional candidates Forum at 10:30 a.m., the other highlight that day will be a keynote presentation at 1:15 p.m. titled: “The Food and Agriculture Industry …… Transitioning into the Future”. The presenters will be Scott Peterson, retired Director of Sourcing Sustainability for the General Mills company, and Michael Doane, Director of Working Lands for The Nature Conservancy, and former executive with the Monsanto company.

“Ag Innovator’s Day” will kick-off from 9 a.m.- 10 a.m. with special “Farmer and Rancher Education Discussion” presentations by young ag producers. The presentations include “Sweet Cheeks Honey”, developed by Sara and Mark Hewitt, Kilkenny, Minnesota; as well as other newer agriculture enterprises. The forum schedule on Aug. 2 will conclude with presentations from 2:30 p.m.- 4 p.m. by the top five teams in the 2016 4-H “Science of Ag Challenge”, coordinated by Dr. Joshua Rice, University of Minnesota. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association will offer a free sweet corn feed from 2:30 p.m.- 3 p.m. Aug. 2.

The feature forum at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 4, is titled: “Strategizing to Address Challenging Farm Financial Issues”. The forum panel will include Bev Durgan, Dean of University of Minne Extensiosotan; Bob Craven, Director of the U of M Center for Farm Financial Management, and U of M Extension Farm Management Educators David Bau and Pauline Van Nurden. A special grain marketing Forum titled: “Post-Harvest Grain Marketing Tips” will be presented by Ed Usset, U of M Grain Marketing Specialist, from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Aug. 4 sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

Farm families from throughout Minnesota will be recognized on Aug. 4, at 1:15 p.m., during the “Farm Family of the Year Recognition Program”, sponsored by the University of Minnesota and FARMFEST. Just prior to that event, Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith will give a keynote address at 1p.m. that day.

A traditional FARMFEST favorite, the free Minnesota Farm Bureau Breakfast” will be held in the Forum Building from 8 a.m.- 10 a.m.  Aug. 3. Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farm Bureau President and several other guests will make comments during the breakfast. Mark Schultz, Grain marketing Analyst with Northstar Commodities, will provide a “Grain and Livestock Marketing Update” from 9 a.m.- 10 a.m., during the breakfast.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will also be present during the MN Farm Bureau breakfast, and will make some comments at 10:10 a.m.  Aug. 3, prior to the Congressional Candidates Forum that day. Another special event at FARMFEST this year will be the “USFRA Sustainability Communications Workshop”, hosted by Randy Krotz, CEO of USFRA, at 3 p.m. Aug. 3.

For more details and information on the FARMFEST Forums, contact Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator, via phone at (507) 381-7960, or by e-mail at :

For more information on the exhibits and other activities at FARMFEST, including driving directions, refer to the IDEAg web site at : .


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