MANKATO, Minn. – Minnesota farmers can kick off the New Year with the annual Minnesota Ag Expo. The two-day event, hosted by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) will feature a trade show, educational seminars, discussion panels, as well as university- and farmer-run research projects.
“Most importantly, it is still the (MCGA) and (MSGA) annual meetings,” said Joe Smentek, MSGA executive director. “We will be finishing up the grassroots delegacy action that we've been doing this fall.”
The MSGA meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and the MCGA meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 23, also 9:00 a.m. to noon.
During the first annual meetings of the New Year, held during the Minnesota Ag Expo, MSGA and MCGA will finalize their resolutions. These resolutions, determined by the members and delegates, guide the organization as they work with legislators on both the state and national level.
“What's great about the grassroots processes is our members and delegates tell us what's important to them and what they want to emphasize, particularly in the coming year,” said Adam Birr, MCGA executive director. “It really is our roadmap for what we're going to prioritize in the upcoming legislative session.”
Support for biofuels remains a priority among both organizations. Finding and securing export markets for ethanol, domestic use of both ethanol and biodiesel, as well as the small refinery exemptions that have been granted, are all areas of importance.
During the dinner on Wednesday night at 5:15 p.m., there will be a biofuels policy discussion. Davis Michaelsen of Pro Farmer will moderate the discussion and a panel of industry experts will be available to answer questions and discuss the issues.
The Minnesota Ag Expo also gives growers an opportunity to check out new innovations as they make plans for the coming season. Whether it is talking with industry professionals on the trade show floor, meeting with university experts, sitting in on the many learning sessions or just talking and networking with other growers, there are endless opportunity to learn.
“On Tuesday, on the trade show floor, we will be highlighting some of the corn farmers that participated in our Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program,” Birr said. “That's always really important for us to highlight because we do make such a significant investment with the checkoff into research.”
The innovation grants are given to farmers to test out new practices or ideas, focused mainly on nutrient retention, on their personal farms. During the Minnesota Ag Expo, five of these farmers will be available to discuss what they did and what they found.
“We also have some pretty cool speakers coming in,” Smentek said. “We're going to have the Farm Babe (Michelle Miller) come in to talk, so that should be very interesting. “It’s a session talking about what GMOs have done for agriculture, how they've helped the industry and debunking some of the myths the environmental groups have put out there.”
Michelle Miller is pro agriculture activist. In addition to farming in Iowa, she gives talks and presentations educating people about agriculture.
She will be opening the Minnesota Ag Expo with the keynote address at 10:00 a.m., on Wednesday. She plans to address the continued opposition to GMO technology, discuss many of the tactics used by anti-GMO organizations and guide growers on how they can combat those tactics.
Other presentations include a discussion panel on solar energy, sponsored by Blue Horizon Energy. Beck’s Hybrids will host a learning session on increasing return on investment.
On Thursday at 11:00 a.m., Houston Engineering will host a talk on impaired waters, what farmers need to know and how they can be a part of the discussion.
A full schedule of events, as well as registration, can be found online at mnagexpo.com. All attendees must register, but there is no cost to attend. This is a free event hosted by both the MCGA and the MSGA.
“Our closing speaker is Dr. Cindra Kamphof, who does resiliency training. She works with the Minnesota Vikings and other professional sports teams on keeping your mind focused,” Smentek said. “In these tough times, she’ll discuss how we can keep plugging ahead, innovating and moving agriculture forward.”