As the number of people in farm circles gets smaller, it’s more important than ever before for agriculture groups to become more united in their efforts to shape sensible farm policy and fend off attacks on issues like biotechnology, ethanol and the environment.
“Uniting” was a major theme of the 2013 Minnesota Agriculture Leadership Conference earlier this week in Brainerd. More than 160 farmers, policy makers, business leaders and elected officials addressed issues related to agriculture, energy and rural development at the fourth annual conference.
“Let’s quit throwing rocks. We don’t need any more help with problems, we need to work together,” said Mat Huie of the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association. “From Minnesota to Kansas to Colorado to Texas and working our way around to the mid-South — we have to figure out how we are going to put our policies together rather than tearing them apart. This is absolutely a great meeting.”
Congressman Collin Peterson spoke over lunch on the conference’s final day to update attendees on the farm bill and other happenings in Congress. Dermot Hayes from Iowa State University spoke the previous day over lunch and highlighted what might happen in American agriculture if China would start buying U.S. corn.
Other topics covered by panelists and speakers included:
- America’s political divide — both in big cities and rural communities — and what it means for farm policy.
- The Renewable Fuels Standard and how it’s helped all of rural America — not just corn farmers.
- With the farm bill still stuck in Congress, myths and facts about crop insurance and what farmers need to do in order to keep crop insurance protection strong.
- General perspectives from other Washington D.C. ag officials and other farming states.
You can learn more about Brandon Willis — administrator for USDA’s Risk Management Agency — and his thoughts on crop insurance from his presentation here. Check back next week for more posts about other presentations and speakers from the conference.
Overall, it was another successful conference.
Said John Owen: “I commend the Minnesota Corn Growers Association for a really outstanding meeting. I’m president of the Louisiana Rice Growers Association. We have 450,000 acres of rice, 800 members. We have never had a meeting close to this, except when we do it on a national level. To me this is more like a national level meeting–the quality of the speakers.”