MORGAN, Minn. – Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture, Thom Petersen, is coming to Farmfest 2019 and he is bringing his fellow state commissioners with him.
On Wednesday at 1:15 p.m., in the Wick building, Farmfest attendees will have the opportunity to address state commissioners from eight different departments, plus Commissioner Petersen directly, ask questions, share their thoughts and hear what the department heads have to say.
“Governor Waltz, on our first day, when we all started our first meeting, he said, ‘I want you guys on the road, I want you all traveling,’” said Commissioner Petersen during a recent interview. “They're excited, and for many of them it'll be their first time at Farmfest. “For others, like Margaret Anderson Kelliher, they've made many trips there.”
Kelliher is the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. She will sit on the forum panel with Commissioner Laura Bishop, Pollution Control Agency; Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly, Dept. of Revenue; Commissioner Steve Kelley, Dept. of Commerce; Commissioner Nancy Leppink, Dept. of Labor and Industry; Commissioner Tony Lourey, Dept. of Human Services; Commissioner Steve Grove, Dept. of Employment and Economic Development; Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore, Dept. of Natural Resources; and Assistant Commissioner Courtney Jordan Baechler, Dept. of Health.
“The way we want to do it was we will all give a quick opening statement about what we do and what some of the issues are,” said Petersen. “Then, we're really going take questions from the audience and see what's on people's minds.”
For many, this will provide an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know the commissioners. Each department plays a role in farm life and the issues the commissioners are facing have a direct impact on farmers.
“(Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly) can talk some about the school tax credit or a depreciation, and the housing commissioner can talk about the rural housing shortage,” he said. “Commissioner Tony Lourey can talk about farmers opting into different healthcare programs.”
The state commissioners meet regularly as either a full group or smaller sub-groups to discuss various issues that fall into the responsibility of multiple departments or affect multiple departments. The culture is one of teamwork and cooperation.
Whether is it transportation, climate change, health care, biofuels, or so many other issues, they all hold an importance to farmers.
This forum brings all the department heads together and puts them in front of those that are directly affected by how they run their departments.
“We have a lot of businesses, we have a lot of issues where we intersect and interact,” he said. “It's also nice to have the Governor there to kick it off as well, because ultimately, we all work for him and we all work for the citizens of Minnesota, so I think it’ll be an interesting setup for a panel.”
The commissioners are planning to stick around at Farmfest before and after the forum. They will be available for anyone to talk to one-on-one.
“It’s a good opportunity and we want the public to know that. Come early or stay late, the commissioners will be glad to talk and take questions from people,” said Petersen. “It’s a good opportunity to interact with people.”