FARMFEST, a celebration of Midwest farming, will feature an exciting line-up of forums this year, according to Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator. Along with a trade show exhibits and more, the Forums will be held Aug. 2-4, in the Forum Tent on the FARMFEST Site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of  Redwood Falls, Minn. Thiesse said the Forum schedule for 2011 has a heavy emphasis on national and state agricultural policy issues, and on issues affecting rural Minnesota. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton will make a keynote address on Thursday, Aug.t 4. All of the Forums will provide ample time for questions, and follow-up discussion with panel members. 

The "Designing the Next Farm Bill …… Shaping the Future of Rural America" is the title of the Feature Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 10:30 AM. Senator Amy Klobuchar, member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, Congressman Collin Peterson, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, and Congressman Tim Walz, also a U.S. House Ag Committee member, have been invited to participate in this panel discussion. They will be joined by Kevin Paap, MN Farm Bureau President, Doug Peterson, MN Farmers Union President, and Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Analyst.

“Regulation …… The Biggest Threat to Production Agriculture ?”  is the title of the Forum scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 1:15 PM. The Forum will provide an overview of the potential impacts to farm operators and the agricultural industry of current and proposed Federal and State regulations for water quality, air quality, use of antibiotics, transportation, and other regulations. The Panel of experts participating in this intriguing Forum will include Liz Wagstrom, Chief Veterinarian with the National Pork Producers Council, Warren Formo, Executive Director of the MN Agricultural Water Resources Coalition, Matt Wohlman, Assistant MN Commissioner of Agriculture, Don Scheifelbein, MN State Cattleman’s Assn. President and MPCA Citizens Board member, Bill Crawford, MN Pork Board President, and Dave Pfarr, MN Corn Growers Assn. Board member.

The "Finding a Common Message for Agriculture" is the title of the morning Forum on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 10:30 AM. The focus will be on building collaboration within the agriculture industry, as well as communicating agriculture’s message to the non-farm public. Dave Frederickson, MN Commissioner of Agriculture, will make the opening comments. The Panel members will include Brad Finstad, Executive Director of the MN Rural Policy Center, Brian Greenslit, member of the U.S. Farm & Ranch Alliance, Staci Martin, Director of Legislative Affairs for AgStar, Karen Richter, National Pork Board Treasurer, Donna Moenning, Vice President of the Midwest Dairy Assn., and Stacy Thoeny, dairy farm operator from Ogilvie, MN.

A special Forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 1:15 PM, and is titled : "Designing State Agencies to Enhance the Agriculture Industry".  This Forum will focus on how various State Agencies work independently and collaboratively to support the work of agricultural producers, processors, and retailers. Panel members will include Dave Frederickson, MN Commissioner of Agriculture, Deputy Commissioners Paul Moe of MN DEED and John Linc Stine of MPCA, Dennis Frederickson, Regional DNR Director, Mike Barnes from MNDOT, and John Jaschke, BWSR Executive Director.

The feature Forum on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 10:30 AM., is titled : “Keeping the Land-Grant Mission Alive", and will focus on the importance of public agricultural research and extension outreach. Panel members will include Bev Durgan, Dean of U of M Extension, Gene Stoehl, Chairman of the MN Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Gyles Randall, retired U of M Soils Scientist, and Jim Nesseth, crop consultant in Southwest Minnesota.

Three special FARMFEST Grain Marketing Forums will be held at 9:00 AM each day. The first Marketing Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 2, will feature Bryce Anderson, well-known DTN Meteorologist and weather expert, and John Sanow, DTN Grain Marketing Analyst. The Forum on Wednesday, Aug. 3, which will be part of the MN Farm Bureau Breakfast from 8:00-10:00 AM that day, will feature Mark Schultz from Northstar Commodities, and the Thursday Marketing Forum at 9:00 AM will feature Jacquie Voeks, marketing analyst with the Stewart-Peterson company.

The “Farm Family of the Year” Recognition Program will be held on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 1:30 PM, in the Forum Tent. Over 65 honored farm families from throughout Minnesota have been selected at the County level for this recognition. This Recognition Event is jointly sponsored by FARMFEST and the University of Minnesota. Other special events at FARMFEST in the Forum Tent include the naming of the Minnesota State Pork Ambassadors on Wednesday, August 3, at 1:00 PM, and the 4th annual FARMFEST Auctioneering Championship on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 3:00 PM.

For more information on the Forums at Minnesota's 2011 FARMFEST, contact Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator (