The forum schedule for Farmest 2010, set for Aug. 3-5 at the Gilfillan Estate in Redwood County, MN, has a heavy emphasis on national and state ag policy issues, says Kent Thiesse, forum coordinator.

The discussions, by state and national experts and political figures, will take place daily during the annual farm show. The schedule is as follows:

Aug. 3 – The “Congressional Candidates’ Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issues” will begin at 10:30 a.m. Confirmed participants include Rep. Collin Peterson (D) from Minnesota’s Seventh District and his challengers Lee Byberg (R), Alan Roebke (R) and Glen Menze (I); First District Rep. Tim Walz (D) and his opponents Randy Demmer (R) and Steven Wilson (I); Tarryl Clark (D), who is endorsed in the Sixth District to challenge Rep. Michele Bachmann; and Shelley Madore (D), a challenger in the Second District. A panel of agriculture reporters for radio and newspaper will pose questions to the candidates on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and rural communities.

“Carbon Credits: Economic Opportunities or Just Headaches?”is scheduledfor 1:15 p.m. The forum will provide an overview of the potential implementation of a “carbon credit”system, and the likely impacts on farmers and processors, and on future development of renewable energy. The following national experts will participate: Chandler Goule, National Farmers Union vice president of government relations; David Miller, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation director of research and commodity services; Chris Clayton, DTN ag policy analyst; and Paul Bertels, National Corn Growers Assn. director of ag economic analysis.

A special forum starting at 3 p.m. will focus on generating ideas to strengthen the future of ag education programs in the state. The “Agricultural Education: Connecting with Opportunities” panel will include: Jim Boerboom, deputy commissioner of agriculture; Joel Larson, state education department; Natasha Mortenson, ag education instructor, Morris Area High School; and Caitlin Kasper, ag education student and former state FFA officer.

Aug. 4 – The “Governor Candidates’ Forum on Rural Minnesota”starts at 10:30 a.m. The six major candidates to be the state’s next governor have agreed to participate, including Republican candidate Tom Emmer; DFL candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza; and Independent Party candidates Tom Horner and Rob Hahn.

A special forum, “The Livestock Industry: From Red Ink to Regulation – What Next?” is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Scheduled participants: Brian Buhr, head, University of Minnesota applied economics department.; Duane Alberts, vice president, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation; Larry Liepold, National Pork Producers Council director; Ted Reichmann, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Assn. president; Paul Simonsen, U.S. Meat Export Federation board member; and Curt Zimmerman, livestock specialist, Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Aug. 5 – The 10:30 a.m. forum, “What the Next Governor Needs to Know About Rural Minnesota,” will include: Gene Hugoson, state ag commissioner; Lee Warne, executive director, Minnesota Rural Education Assn.; King Banaian, St. Cloud State University economics professor; and Mary-Margaret Zindren, strategic initiatives director, League of Minnesota Cities. The keynote address for this forum will be presented at 11:30 a.m. by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

In addition, a grain and livestock marketing forum will be held at 9 a.m. each day.

For more information on Farmfest, go to www.farmshows.com and click on “Farmfest 10”, or contact Kent Thiesse at 507-381-7960 or kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.