Written by Allison Durheim, KEYC News on December 5, 2019.

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — GreenSeam held its annual Rural Forum at the Mankato Civic Center on Thursday.

The forum is in its 37th year and this year’s theme of Navigating Perspectives brought in agriculture professionals, elected officials and college students.

The 2019 Rural Forum brought together various groups to discuss the hot topics facing today’s rural economy.

“So to many of us, the room might feel a little bit down about agriculture tonight… but also, we’re in the midst of the most exciting time of agriculture,” said GreenSeam director, Sam Ziegler.

A part of those exciting times is producers offering more food options for consumers, though producers aren’t the only ones coming up with new options.

“Our main mission is to educate the public about a lot of issues that have to do with animal rights as well as educating consumers what is in these new meats… fake bacon, fake sausage, fake hamburgers,” said president of Berman and Company and keynote speaker, Rick Berman.

The forum brought hot topics to the table for discussion, as well as how the use of social media has changed the way producers interact with consumers.

“On the other hand, we do have the opportunity to use the internet and we do have the opportunity to convince people in a much more efficient way than ever before,” said Berman.

Berman pressed the message of getting ahead of the communication gap between producers and consumers with the power of the internet.

“People who have an interest in protecting the current status quo or protecting food choices, you have to be equally vigilant, you can’t wait until the last minute to do something about a problem, you have to look over the horizon, you have to see where these threats are coming from,” said Berman.

Berman addressed misconceptions the agricultural industries are facing and how agriculture professionals can effectively communicate to all generations using social media.