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Farmfest, annual ag exposition, to begin Tuesday

MORGAN -- The annual Farmfest agricultural exposition starts Tuesday in Redwood County.

Organizers say the event brings an estimated 35,000 people each year to the Gilfillan Estate.

According to information on the Farmfest Web site, the annual exposition draws more than 500 companies in the farming industry and features educational forums and political discussions, livestock and field demonstrations and a wide variety of entertainment programs.

The hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $7 per person, but 18 and under are admitted free. Parking is free.

The Gilfillan Estate is located southeast of Redwood Falls at the junction of state Highway 67 and Redwood County Road 13 in rural Morgan.

A highlight each year at Farmfest is the opportunity to hear from elected officials and candidates for office regarding agriculture policy and other rural issues..

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Forum Tent on the Farmfest grounds, the U.S. Senate candidates will kick off the political discussion. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., is slated to appear, along with challengers Al Franken, a Democrat; and independents Dean Barkley and Steve Williams.

A media panel will facilitate the discussion.

At 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty will give a keynote address.

Then at 1:30 p.m. it's U.S. House members and candidates' turn to discuss agriculture. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., are slated to appear. Candidates expected to participate in the discussion include Glen Menze, a Republican challenging Peterson in the 7th District; Brian Davis and Dick Day, both Republicans, who are seeking to unseat Walz in the 1st District; Elwyn Tinklenberg, a Democratic candidate in the 6th District; and Steve Sarvi, a Democrat seeking the 2nd District seat.

A panel of leaders in agriculture in Minnesota will facilitate the discussion.

The first political forum Wednesday will look at the next big policy issues in agriculture. Panel members for the 10:30 a.m. discussion include U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau president; and Tom Buis, National Farmers Union president.

Renewable energy will be the topic of an an afternoon discussion. At 1:15 p.m., Gene Hugoson, Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture, will give a keynote address to begin the topic of "Food vs. fuel ... Where is the balance for renewable energy?"

Panel members for the discussion to follow include Brian Buhr, head of the University of Minnesota Applied Economics Department; Jim Sartwelle, livestock economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation; Randy Spronk of Edgerton, National Pork Producers Association board member; Steve Kramer of Hector, Minnesota Corn Growers Association secretary; and Newell Searle, vice president of Second Harvest Heartland.

The final policy discussion is set for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Forum Tent when panel members will discuss rural Minnesota's economic future.

Mark Drabenstott, director of the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, will give a keynote address. Panel members include Marc Knisely, CEO of United Farm Credit Services; John Monson, vice president of AgStar Rural Development; and Bob Byrnes, mayor of Marshall and a University of Minnesota regional extension director.

A special topic at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Forum Tent will be a Minnesota Department of Agriculture presentation on tuberculosis regulations and testing.

Various other entertainment is offered throughout all three days at the Forum Tent.

More information on Farmfest is online at