MN Ag Expo Draws Largest Crowd

Two-day event filled with topics to navigate difficult times

Low crop prices, coupled with ag-regulation uncertainty is enough to put any farmer in a funk. Those are also good conditions to draw a record crowd to MN Ag Expo 2016 for two days of business, learning and fun at the 2016 MN Ag Expo Wednesday and Thursday at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association held its annual meeting to kickoff MN Ag Expo 2016, approving changes to its bylaws and articles of incorporation, which will now be submitted to the state for approval. MSGA also unveiled its new advocacy technology, allowing farmers to send a letter to legislators simply by texting speakup to 52886 and following the link text back to their phone. The current letters are about the upcoming Governor’s Water Summit.

MSGA member Mike Bosch of Chippewa County was honored at the meeting for being the first person to test out the new advocacy platform.

“This tool was awesome,” Bosch told the delegation. “It was really easy and took a total of 3 to 5 minutes, if that. It’s a really good way to get your message across and they are listening.”

Since launching the app, 47 advocates have made 93 connections with 36 elected officials, including 31 letters to Gov. Mark Dayton.

david okerlundAfter the meeting, keynote speaker David Okerlund, who taught speech and debate at Oxford University and is a member of the International Hall of Fame for speakers, told farmers and attendees that dignity comes from within, not from what others think of you.

Speaking about the moral of the industry, Okerlund told attendees that uncertainty drives stress, and there is more uncertainty than ever in agriculture. He urged attendees to lean on their faith and their families.

“Someone out there is your lighthouse, and you need to lean on those people.”

Okerlund said that with so much uncertainty, especially when it comes to those advocating against agriculture, it is more important than ever for farmers tell their story.

“I was listening in on the Soybean meeting before this and they’ve got this thing where you can text the Governor and tell him what you think,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you do that? Why wouldn’t 100 percent of this room take out their phones and text, text, text him. I’d text him all the time if it were me.”

Other sessions this year covered Minnesota’s buffer law, post-El Nino crop weather report, markets and negotiating for advantage.

There was also a pair of panels Thursday: Advocating for Agriculture and The Future of Ag Policy in Minnesota.

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