Farmfest Congressional Forum 2019

We won’t be all together, but we can still participate in and learn from Farmfest Forums while at home this year.

The IDEAg Group has announced Farmfest Virtual 2020 will be held Aug. 4-6. The forums will take place on the same three days as the in-person Farmfest was scheduled.

Show organizers will produce online public forums and educational sessions, as well as recognition ceremonies, available via webinar-style virtual events on Zoom Video Communications.

To see and hear the sessions on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop, visit and click on “Schedule of Events.”

Scroll to the bottom of the page and register to attend the webinars. Once you’ve registered, IDEAg will email links for your selected webinars. Follow the links at the listed times to watch the forums.

Registration offers viewers the opportunity to ask a question of the panelists. There’s no cost to attend, and no cost for the ZOOM app.

In addition, those not wanting to register can watch the sessions live on or on Farmfest’s Facebook page.

The Farmfest Forums are coordinated by Kent Thiesse, Lake Crystal, Minn. He’s organized and moderated the exciting forums for over 30 years.

After it became clear that Farmfest 2020 couldn’t be held, IDEAg organizers talked about some of the nonrevenue portions of the show they wanted to continue this year. The Farmfest Forums were an obvious choice to move online.

Thiesse pointed out that 2020 is an even-numbered year, which means they’ll be featuring Farmfest candidate forums.

Minnesota’s State Primary is Tuesday, Aug. 11. Perhaps those affected most are three people who are running as Republican candidates in District Seven against long-time Congressman Collin Peterson, a Democrat. The Republican candidates include Michelle Fischbach, Dave Hughes and Noel Collis.

Their forum will be held at 10:30 a.m., on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Eighth District candidates Congressman Pete Stauber, Republican, and Quinn Nystrom, Democratic candidate will also participate in this forum.

Congressional forums for Districts One, Two and Six will be held on Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m.

But viewers will want to start watching the day before, Tuesday, Aug. 4, as Senator Tina Smith, Democrat, will meet up with her Republican challenger, Jason Lewis.

“With a U.S. Senate race in Minnesota and very competitive Congressional races, it’s certainly important for farmers and rural Minnesota to have these forums,” said Niki Jones, IDEAg marketing manager.

“We still have questions for the candidates to answer, with timed responses similar to the other forums,” Jones added. “It will still have that kind of feel to it.”

In addition to candidate forums, viewers may also see two recognition ceremonies, Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Ziegler Cat, as well as the annual Minnesota Farm Family of the Year program.

Thiesse and Jones encourage everyone to tune in to these events Aug. 4-6 to learn more about issues important to Greater Minnesota.

The schedule and invited panelists are as follows:

Tuesday, August 4

9 a.m. - Staying Safe & Staying in Business

• Moderator: Paul Aasen, President of the Minnesota Safety Council

• Panelists: Dr. Joni Scheftel, State Public Health Veterinarian; Joleen Hadrich, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics; Doris Mold, Sunrise Agricultural Associates, LLC, agricultural consulting firm; and Emily Krekelberg, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, Farm Safety and Health.

11:30 a.m. - U.S. Senate Forum

• Moderator: Blois Olson, Fluence Media

• Candidates: Sen. Tina Smith (D) and Jason Lewis (R)

1:30 p.m. - The Current State of the Ag Economy

• Moderator: Kent Thiesse

• Panelists: Michael Nepveux, economist, American Farm Bureau Federation; Arlan Suderman, Chief Commodities Economist, INTL FCStone Financial Inc.; Jason Schwantz, Senior Vice President, Refined Fuels, CHS, Inc.; and Mark Greenwood, Chief Diversified Markets Officer, Compeer Financial.

Wednesday, August 5

10:30 a.m. - U.S. Congressional Forum, Districts: Seventh and Eighth

• Moderator: Lynn Ketelsen, Linder Farm Network

• Seventh District Candidates: Rep. Collin Peterson (D); Michelle Fischbach (R); Dave Hughes (R); and Noel Collis (R).

• Eighth District Candidates: Rep. Pete Stauber (R) and Quinn Nystrom (D)

1 p.m. - U.S. Congressional Forum, Districts: First, Second and Sixth

• Moderator: Lynn Ketelsen

• First District Candidates: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) and Dan Feehan (D)

• Second District Candidates: Rep. Angie Craig (D) and Tyler Kistner (R)

• Sixth District Candidates: Rep. Tom Emmer (D) and Tawnja Zahradka (R)

Thursday, August 6

10:30 a.m. - Farmfest Women in Ag Event

• Keynote Speaker: Sherry Saylor, chair, American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee

• Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year Awards

1 p.m. - University of Minnesota’s Farm Family of the Year Recognition Program

“We want to ensure that Farmfest is still a resource for the ag community, even in an environment where we aren’t able to hold an in-person event,” said Melissa Sanders Carroll, executive director, IDEAg. “Farmfest Virtual is designed to provide attendees with current ag issues and ag education from the safety of their farms.”

Those not wishing to register can watch the sessions live on or on Farmfest’s Facebook Page.