Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will attend FARMFEST on Wednesday, Aug. 7 and will be taking part in the U.S. House Ag Committee Listening Session at 10:30 A.M. This forum will be part of an exciting line-up of feature forums at Farmfest this year, which will have a heavy emphasis on key topics and policy issues affecting farm families and rural communities. The Forums will be held August 6, 7, and 8, in the Wick Buildings Forum and Education Center on the FARMFEST Site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of Redwood Falls, Minnesota.

The “U.S. House Ag Committee Listening Session on the Farm Economy” will be held on Wednesday, August 7, from 10:30 to 11:50 AM. The event will be hosted by U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chair, Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), and will feature U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. Other members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation that will be participating in the Listening Session include: U.S. Senator Tina Smith; Second District Congresswoman Angie Craig; First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn; Third District Congressman Dean Phillips; and Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber. During the “Listening Session” there will be an opportunity to hear from Ag Secretary Perdue and the U.S. House Ag Committee leadership, as well as to ask questions and make comments to the Committee on issues related to ag policy and the farm economy.

Several prominent agricultural leaders will be participating in the feature forum on Tuesday morning, August 6, at 10:30 AM, which is titled: “Ag Policy Discussion with National Ag Leaders”. The forum will include a discussion of several important ag policy issues, including ag trade issues with China, the new USMCA agreement, MFP and disaster aid payments, implementation of the new Farm Bill, immigration reform, rural health care, infrastructure improvements, and 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; Rob Larew, Senior Vice President for National Farmers Union; Tamara Nelsen, Executive Director of MN Agri Growth; Harold Wolle, National Corn Growers Assn. Board; and Joel Schreurs, American Soybean Assn. Board.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz will deliver a keynote address on Tuesday, August 6 at 1:10 PM, which will be followed by a feature forum titled: "The State of Rural Minnesota and the Agriculture Industry”. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of the various departments within State government. The forum will be hosted by Thom Petersen, MN Commissioner of Agriculture, and will include nine other State Commissioners or Deputy Commissioners from Minnesota State Government. The panel includes Laura Bishop, MPCA; Cynthia Bauerly, Dept. of Revenue; Jennifer Leimaile Ho, MN Dept. of Housing; Steve Kelley, Dept. of Commerce; Margaret Anderson Kelliher, MNDOT; Nancy Leppink, Dept. of Labor & Industry; Steve Gove, DEED; Barb Naramore, DNR; and Courtney Jordan Baechler, Dept. of Health.

The afternoon forum at FARMFEST on Wednesday, August 7, at 1:15 PM is titled: “Battling ASF and other Pandemic Livestock Diseases”, which will focus on the animal health concerns and preventative measures, as well as the financial challenges, associated with African Swine Fever (ASF) and other high profile livestock diseases. Panel members will include Dave Preisler, Executive Director of the MN Pork Producers Assn., Dr. Beth Thompson, State Veterinarian, MN Board of Animal Health, Dr. Gordon Spronk, Veterinarian and National Pork Producers Assn. Board Member, Dr. Jerry Tonnison, Director of the University of MN Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, and Mark Schultz, Marketing Consultant with North Star Commodities.

Jolene Brown, a farmer and award-winning motivational speaker, will present a a feature forum on Thursday morning, August 8, at 10:00 AM, which is titled: “Who’s Hiding the Humor ?”. This presentation will focus on dealing with the ongoing challenges and stresses that farm families face in their farm business and daily lives. Her upbeat presentation will be inspiring for anyone to listen to, regardless of their profession or background. The forum is being sponsored by Ag Country Farm Credit Services and IDEAg Group, LLC. Ag Country will also be sponsoring a presentation which is titled: “Farm Transition, Estate, and Business Planning …… It’s a Journey”. This presentation will be held on Thursday, August 8 at 9:00 AM, with Andrew Zenk, Financial Planning Consultant for Ag Country, as the featured speaker.

Joan Gabel, new President at the University of Minnesota, will give a welcome address for the “Farm Family of the Year” Recognition Program. This event is a FARMFEST tradition that will be held on Thursday, August 8, at 1:15 PM, honoring approximately 80 farm families from throughout Minnesota have been selected at the county level for this special recognition. This event is jointly sponsored by the University of Minnesota and IDEAg Group, LLC.

A free pancake breakfast sponsored by MN Farm Bureau will be held from Wednesday, August 7, from 8:00-10:00 AM, featuring U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, along with American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and MN Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap. During the pancake breakfast at 9:00 AM on Wednesday morning, a special “Grain and Livestock Marketing Update” will be held The panel will feature Michael Nepveux, American Farm Bureau, Kent Beadle, CHS Hedging, and Mark Schultz, North Star Commodities.

FARMFEST will include three other special presentations in the Forum building. The first presentation will be presented on Tuesday, August 6, at 9:00 AM, featuring Chris Pothen, CHS Vice President for Global Grain Marketing, and is titled: “Trade Matters …… an update on Global Trade Agreements”. The second presentation is titled: “Generational Perspectives on Sustainable Agriculture”, which will be held on Tuesday, August 6 at 3:00 PM, featuring Zach Johnson and Michell Hora, the “Field Work” podcast hosts. Another presentation titled: “Changing Hands …… Farm and Ranch Succession Planning” is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7 at 3:00 PM, which will be presented by Chad Lea, Farm Bureau Financial Services.

The Linder Farm Network Noon Show will be held each day at FARMFEST from 12:00-1:00 PM, featuring many special guests each day, including Orion Samuelson, nationally known farm broadcaster, on Tuesday, August 6. The Noon Show on Wednesday, August 8, will feature U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, along with the naming of the 2019 MN State Pork Ambassadors during the program. A free sweet corn feed sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers Assn. will occur at 11:45 AM on Tuesday in the Forum building.

For more details on the FARMFEST forums and presentations, please contact Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator (507-381-7960) or For more information on the exhibits, plots, activities and other details at FARMFEST, please refer to the IDEAg FARMFEST website at: or contact Amy LaTessa, FARMFEST Show Manager (815-621-32540) or