GREAT FALLS, Mont. – The 64th annual Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA) Convention will take place Dec. 3-5 at the Heritage Inn, in Great Falls, Mont. The event will be two-fold, serving as an educational opportunity for members. In addition, the MGGA will be setting their policies for the coming year.

The MGGA Convention is noted for being Montana’s largest ag gathering. On average, the convention draws between 800 and 900 people over the course of the event. With the theme of “Gaining the Upper Hand,” Vince Mattson, MGGA executive vice president and this year’s convention chairman has orchestrated a lineup of top-notch speakers. He hopes that 2019 will be a record attendance year.

“I think we’ve got a great convention planned. We sent out some polls and asked our growers what they wanted and they wanted some better speakers and I think we delivered,” Mattson concluded.   

The convention will kick-off on Tuesday, Dec. 3, with a workshop titled “The Art of Negotiation,” presented by Jack Williams. Williams is an instructor in The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP), based in Texas. Mattson explained that Williams’ workshop will help participants learn to be better negotiators in everyday life.

The workshop runs from 1-5 p.m., and has an additional $100 registration fee. The workshop will be capped at 75 participants, so be sure to register early.

On Wednesday morning, Dec. 4, convention goers will be treated to a breakfast with opening remarks provided by Dr. Sreekala Bajwa, MSU VP, Dean & Director of College of Ag and MAES. Following Dr. Bajwa’s speech will be the pulse segment of the convention where speakers will discuss marketing, trade and end uses of pulse proteins.

The dynamic speakers continue on Wednesday afternoon as Cort Jensen, an attorney with the Montana Department of Agriculture touches on emerging ag technologies and laws. Dwayne Beck, manager of SDSU Dakota Lakes Research Farm, will then discuss the nuances associated with soil diversities and ecosystems that growers are becoming more and more aware of.

“Dwayne is a long-time agronomist with a very good reputation,” said Mattson.

Wednesday afternoon will move along with more of an agronomics feel. A panel, with producers and individuals from PNW Canola Association and Dry Fork Ag will discuss the production and marketing of canola in Montana. Following, Curt Barnekoff, a CPA with Wipfli, and Jennifer Forsyth, an attorney with Hi-Line Law, will discuss business structure and tax management.

Wednesday evening will conclude with a USDA-FSA presentation and trade show reception.

Speakers from the Northern Crop Institute and the Wheat Marketing Center will open up Thursday’s portion of the convention, talking about the promotion of Montana raised wheat. Christine Cochran of the Grain Foods Foundation will then touch on the industry checkoff and things that are being done to increase the demand for wheat products.

Possibly the highlight of Thursday’s speaker line-up will include the discussion panel on international trade where USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Ag, Ted McKinney, will be the featured guest and speaker.

“We are pretty excited to have Under Secretary McKinney speaking at our convention,” Mattson stated.

Thursday will also include talks about ag related podcasts, and Lyndy Phillips, a humorous speaker, will deliver a talk centered around mental health in agriculture titled “Laugh More, Stress Less.” The MGGA Convention speakers will conclude at 2 p.m., with a presentation by Britt O’Connell of Commodity Risk Management Group where she will discuss local impacts and discovering ways to maximize your return on investment on stored grains.

Committee meetings will be scattered throughout the convention providing an opportunity for state industry leaders to talk policy for MGGA. Topics like trade and the implementation of the new Farm Bill will be discussed.

“There is not a lot of new stuff we will be discussing, its more just tweaking and fine tuning a few things,” Mattson said.

Registration for the 2019 convention is now open. You can find out more about the speakers and convention happenings by visiting mgga.org.

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