A U.S. House agriculture committee listening session on the next farm bill will highlight the feature forums at Farmfest this year.

The forum schedule for 2017 will include an exciting line-up of feature forums, with a heavy emphasis on key topics and agricultural policy issues affecting farm families and rural communities.

The forums will be held Aug. 1, 2 and 3, in the Wick Buildings Forum and Education Center on the Farmfest site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, southeast of Redwood Falls.

The farm bill listening session will be held Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and is titled: “The Next Farm Bill …Conversations in the Field.”

The event will be hosted by Rep. Michael Conway, U.S. house agriculture committee chair of Texas and Rep. Collin Peterson, who is the ag committee ranking member.

Other members of the U.S. House ag committee have been invited to participate in the farm bill forum at Farmfest, and several U.S. House members from the upper midwest are expected to attend.

During the session there will be opportunities to hear from the ag committee leadership, as well as to make comments to the committee, on issues related to development of the next farm bill.

“Addressing the Rural Health Care Dilemma” will be the first feature forum Aug. 1, at 10:30 a.m., focusing the challenges that rural families face in securing adequate health insurance coverage, and having access to high quality health care services.

Panel members include Emily Piper, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Rep. Tim Walz, State Sen. Gary Dahms, Nick Gerhart, chief administrative officer of the FBL Financial Group and Jeff Nielsen, CEO of the United Farmers Cooperative. 

The afternoon forum at Farmfest Aug. 1 at 1:15 p.m. is titled: “Strategies for Farming in Challenging Times,” which will focus on some of the financial challenges and personal stresses that are currently facing many farm families.

Panel members will include Dave Frederickson, Minnesota commissioner of agriculture; State Rep. Paul Anderson; David Bau, U of M Extension educator; Bob Roesler, Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management instructor and Pauline VanNurden, U of M Center for Farm Financial Management.

The feature forum Aug. 2 at 10:30 a.m., will be a “National Ag Policy Roundtable.”

The forum will include a discussion of several important ag policy issues, including development of the next farm bill, potential changes to the federal crop insurance program, NAFTA and other ag trade issues, immigration reform, rural health care and much more.

A panel of national leaders in various farm organizations and commodity groups will be present to discuss the issues. The panel includes Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president, Matt Perdue government relations specialist for National Farmers Union, Bruce Schmoll, past president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), Tom Haag, National Corn Growers Association board member and Jim Compart, National Pork Producers Council board member.

The feature forum Aug. 2 at 1:15 p.m. is titled: “Transitioning to the Next Generation of Farmers,” and will focus on some of the opportunities and challenges that farm families face as they transition from one generation to the next.

Panel members will include Karson Duncanson, farm operator from Mapleton, Dan Helvig, farm operator and Minnesota Pork board member from Truman, Natasha Mortenson, with River-view Farms at Morris, Tim Nolte, cattle producer and past president of the Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association from Sebeka, Pam Uhlenkamp, farm business management instructor from Mankato and Brad Schloesser, dean of the Southern Minnesota Center for Agriculture.

A Farmfest tradition will continue Aug. 3 at 1:15 p.m. with the annual Minnesota “Farm Family of the Year” recognition program. Approximately 75 farm families from throughout the state have been selected at the county level for this special recognition. This event is jointly sponsored by Farmfest and the University of Minnesota.

Two special forums at Farmfest are going to be held Aug. 1. The “DTN Ag Weather and Grain Marketing update will begin at 9 a.m., with a forum titled “Farm Safety: Protecting You, Your Family, Your Employees, and Your Bottom Line” scheduled for 2:45 p.m..

A free sweet corn feed sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association will occur during the afternoon Tuesday at Farmfest.

Two more special forums are scheduled for Aug. 2. Mark Schultz, commodity marketing analyst with Northstar Commodities, will provide a “Grain and Livestock Marketing Update” at 9:a.m., Wednesday morning, during the free pancake breakfast sponsored by Minnesota Farm Bureau, which will occur from 8-10 a.m.

“Retire at Zero” is the title of the special forum being presented by Farm Bureau Financial Services Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the IDEAg Farmfest Web site at www.ideaggroup.com, or contact Kent Thiesse, Farmfest forum coordinator at (507) 381-7960 or kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.