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GreenSeam hosted the 39th annual Rural Forum – GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS Integrating People, Businesses, and Governments on December 1st, 2022. The evening was filled with passionate speakers who were not only knowledgeable about this topic, but passionate as well.

Thank all our sponsors with a special shout out to our Presenting Sponsor, Gislason & Hunter. We would not be able to make the Rural Forum happen without all of YOU. Want to attend or sponsor 2023? Learn more!


4:00 pm – Registration Opens
4:30 pm
– Networking (hors d’oeuvres & beverages)
5:30 pm – Welcome Note
5:40 pm – Dinner
6:15 pm – Keynote Speakers
6:45 pm – Signature Panel
7:30 pm – Opportunities in Agriculture
7:40 pm – Legislative Panel
8:30 pm – Program Concludes


Gary Koch, GreenSeam Chair of the Board and Christensen Farms VP 
Mathew Berge
r, Partner at Gislason and Hunter
Ariel Delouya, Consul General of Canada, in Minneapolis
Ivan Roberto Sierra Medel, Head Consul of Mexico, in St. Paul
Derek Johnson, Minister of Agriculture Manitoba
Thom Peterson, Commissioner of Agriculture Minnesota
Hunter Roberts,
 Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, South Dakota 
Emma Kuball, Minnesota FFA State President
Nick Frentz, MN State Senator
Paul Torkelson, MN State Representative
Sam Ziegler, Director of GreenSeam 

Ariel Delouya

Consul General of Canada in Minneapolis, United States

Ariel Delouya is currently Consul General at the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis. From 2009 to 2012, he served as Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Tunisia. He also served as Minister-Counsellor for Congressional and Legal Affairs at the Embassy of Canada to the United States, in Washington, D.C. (2002-2006) and was posted to Ankara, Türkiye from 1987 to 1989.

In Ottawa, Mr. Delouya has held a number of positions, including Departmental spokesperson with the Media Relations Office and Deputy Director of the International Economic Relations and Summits Division, where he was responsible for G7 summits. From 1998 to 2002, Mr. Delouya was on secondment to the Privy Council Office, first as foreign policy advisor in the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat from 1998 to 2000, and then as chief of staff to the Clerk of the Privy Council from 2000 to 2002. From 2006 to 2009, he worked as Director of the Policy Research Division at Global Affairs Headquarters, as Executive Director for Mission Inspections from 2012 to 2014, and as Director General of the Engaging Canadians Bureau from 2014 to 2018.

Ivan Roberto Sierra Medel

Ambassador and Head Consul of Mexico in St. Paul, United States

Ivan Roberto Sierra Medel is the fifth Consul of Mexico in Saint Paul since its establishment in 2005. As a career diplomat he has worked for Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) since 1993 and has the rank of Ambassador since 2017.

In the SRE, Ambassador Sierra worked at the Direction General for the Pacific, the Direction General for Technical and Scientific Cooperation, and the General Coordination of Advisors. From 2019 to 2021, he was the Executive Director of the Institute of the Mexicans Abroad (IME). In addition, he has worked as an advisor for international affairs at the Office of the President of the Republic. He has been posted at the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento, California, and to the Mexican embassies in Panama and Malaysia. From 2015 to 2019 he served as Ambassador to Guyana, concurrent with CARICOM.

Ambassador Sierra has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Russian Literature and Philology from the Lomonosov Moscow State University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Diplomatic Studies from the Matías Romero Institute of the SRE.

He has been a professor at the Dr. José María Luis Mora Research Institute; at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM); at the Inter-American Center for Social Security Studies of the University of the Americas-Mexico City; and at the University of Guadalajara. He has published 30 papers on foreign policy and international cooperation.

Derek Johnson

Minister of Agriculture, Manitoba

The Honourable Derek Johnson is the Minister of Agriculture and elected Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Interlake – Gimli, which is about an hour north of Winnipeg. He was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2019.

Minister Johnson has has served as a councillor for the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent from 2010 to 2014. During his term on council, his responsibilities included finance, drainage, and emergency services; including during the unprecedented flooding of 2011. He has also been a financial advisor and assistant branch manager at a local financial institution.

Derek was born and raised in Oak Point, Manitoba, where his family lived for the past four generations. He now lives on the shores of Lake Manitoba with his wife, Tara (who is with us tonight) and he has two children.

Thom Peterson

Commissioner of Agriculture, Minnesota

Commissioner Petersen is a long-time resident of Royalton Township near Pine City where he lives on a horse farm. Before being appointed Commissioner, Petersen served as the Director of Government Relations for Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) since 2002, working on behalf of MFU’s farmer-members in both Washington, D.C. and St. Paul.

Prior to his work at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Commissioner Petersen spent most of his life working for his family and his own horse and farm business. He has a wide range of experience in state and federal farm policy, and travels to almost every county in Minnesota each year to fully understand how these policies affect farmers’ daily lives. He has served on many boards and committees, including the University of Minnesota Extension Citizens Advisory Committee, Farmers Legal Action Group, Citizens Utility Board, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, Minnesota State Organic Task Force, Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, and the Minnesota Fair Plan.

Commissioner Petersen received his Associate’s degree from Normandale Community College and studied at both the University of Minnesota and University of Georgia. The Commissioner and his wife Alana live in Pine City with their two sons. The Petersens show horses around the state and have competed at the Minnesota State Fair for over 25 years.

Hunter Roberts

Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, South Dakota

Hunter Roberts currently serves South Dakota as the Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In August 2019, he began leading the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in its mission to protect public health and the environment. One year later, Governor Noem announced her plans to merge the Departments of Agriculture and Environment and Natural Resources into the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) and tapped Hunter to lead the merger and the new department. Now operating as a single agency, DANR’s mission is to protect and preserve agriculture, environment, and natural resources through effective regulatory services, natural resource conservation, and financial and technical assistance.

He began his career in public service with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in 2007 as the Assistant State Energy Director. Soon after, he transitioned to the Energy Policy Director where he led the state’s efforts to promote business development in power generation, energy production, and clean energy manufacturing until the end of 2014.

A South Dakota native, Hunter resides in Pierre with his wife and two children. He is a 5th generation South Dakota farmer and rancher, who owns and operates a diversified grain and cow-calf farm and ranch southeast of Ft. Pierre with his family.

Emma Kuball

State President, MN FFA Association

Emma has served on chapter and region officer teams before becoming a state officer. During her time in FFA she participated in several contests including, milk quality, creed speaking, and meats judging. While in high school, Emma developed two supervised agricultural experiences. The first SAE is a Dairy Placement, where she milked cows and helped with calf care on the family’s dairy farm. The second is a Beef Production Entrepreneurship where she bought and raised Angus-Holstein cross steers. Now in FFA, Emma has had the opportunity to run summer camps, facilitate at region events, meet with Minnesota legislators in Washington D.C. and attend National FFA Convention representing Minnesota FFA as delegates. Her and her team have also met with several sponsors to communicate the importance of FFA and agricultural education. Through all of Emma’s years in FFA, by far her favorite part was all of the connections that she made from all over the state and now all over the country!

Senator Nick Frentz (DFL)

District 19

Representative Paul Torkelson (R)

District 16B