2019 MN AG EXPO keeps its cool

Not many attendees were feeling the heat at the 2019 MN AG EXPO, but the brisk temperatures didn’t diminish the lively atmosphere at Minnesota’s premier indoor ag trade show.

Held over two days at the Verizon Center in Mankato, Minn., MN AG EXPO featured a diverse trade show with more than 80 exhibitors, an array of breakout sessions, a taping of the U.S. Farm Report and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association’s resolution and annual meeting.

“Every year, we try to make AG EXPO the best one yet, and I think our organization and staff pulled it off once again,” says MSGA President Michael Petefish. “As an advocacy organization, this is a great way to get our message out to the public while generating enthusiasm and policy initiatives for MSGA as the legislative session starts to get moving.”

It wasn’t all business; there was time for good clean fun, too. At MSGA’s annual “Beano & Vino” fundraising casino night, Director Brad Hovel shook off his initial reluctance and bravely agreed to shave off his bushy beard, which had been years in the making. Hovel’s cut helped raise $2,500 for the MN Soy Political Action Committee.

“Oh, the things I do for MSGA,” Hovel said, laughing as his fellow directors  shared in the shaving duties.

MSGA Director Brad Hovel took one for the team by agreeing to shave his beard for the MN Soy Political Action Committee.

Wednesday’s events featured MN Ag in the Classroom, a presentation on trusts by Profinium, a weed resistance panel, a solar energy panel and ag policy and trade updates from Pro Farmer’s Jim Weisemeyer.

“This is gut check time (for ag), “Weisemeyer said. “But I’m still optimistic because the United States is home to the greatest innovation in the world.”

On Thursday, MSGA held its annual meeting, and honored Minnesota Soybean Senior Director of Product Development & Commercialization Mike Youngerberg for his efforts leading the 20-year push to bring biodiesel to Minnesota. Bill Gordon, a Worthington, Minn., also delivered his first update to the MSGA board as the newly elected vice president of the American Soybean Association.

During Thursday’s lunch, Col. Parker Schenecker spoke to both MSGA and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association about his story of loss, love and courage after his two children were killed by his wife in 2011.

“It was a deep talk,” Petefish said, “but with the current economic climate in ag, the Colonel really put things into perspective.”

“One of the goals of Ag Expo is to provide useful information for people from all walks of agriculture, and I think we accomplished that goal this year,” says Joe Smentek, who began his first MN AG EXPO as MSGA’s executive director.

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council also had a heavy presence at the 2019 MN AG EXPO, highlighting how soybean checkoff dollars continue to pay dividends for farmers. Indomitus, the truck built by the DieselSellerz, made a return appearance this year, allowing farmer leaders to continue touting the benefits of biodiesel to Expo attendees. Minnesota Soybean Director of Research David Kee was stationed on the Research and Innovation Center on the second floor, where he spotlighted checkoff-funded projects along with University of Minnesota researchers.

John Jansen of the Climate Corporation, closed out MN AG EXPO with a keynote address on the trade show floor.

“Expo is a whirlwind every year, and I’m proud of our farmer leaders and staff for their dedication in making this show a success once again,” says MSR&PC CEO Tom Slunecka.

Follow The Conversation