Thursday, December 6th, 2018

4:30 – 8:30 pm
Verizon Center, Ballroom, Mankato, MN

More than three-dozen years ago, the Rural Legislative Forum was started by the Minnesota AgriWomen’s Association and the University of Minnesota Extension. Since its inception, it has changed hands but one thing that has not changed is the overarching goal to gather the community in important conversations about our rural economy and about agriculture. A crucial element is to have those discussions with key elected officials, along with industry speakers that can really help pull the picture together. This year, GreenSeam will host the 36th annual Rural Legislative Forum in December.

We have once again invited USDA Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue. We hope to hear an update on the work of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity and the Administration’s efforts more broadly to change policies, regulations and laws that will bolster the agriculture industry and rural economy.

  • 4:15 pm


  • 4:30 pm


  • 5:30 pm


  • 6:00 - 8:30 pm



Master of Ceremonies

Chip Flory

Chip joined Pro Farmer as a floor reporter for Futures World News in January 1988 after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in Ag Journalism. He spent 3 years reporting from the floors of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as Bureau Chief for FWN.

Chip moved to the Pro Farmer headquarters in 1991 where he started as Electronic Services Editor. With Pro Farmer, he has been Sr. Market Analyst, General Manager, Editor of the company’s flagship newsletter and is now Editorial Director.

Chip is also a host of Farm Journal Media’s two daily radio talk shows, AgriTalk and AgriTalk After the Bell.

More about Chip Flory

Keynote Speaker

Harry Stine

Harry Stine, CEO, Stine Seed Company, is synonymous with many titles – innovator, businessman, entrepreneur – but the title holding the most significance to him is a farmer. Raised on the family property in Dallas County, Iowa, Harry graduated from Central Dallas High School and then McPherson College in Kansas. In 1964, he joined his father’s soybean cleaning business in Adel, Iowa.

Harry’s interest in research and seed breeding started when he found some unusual soybean plants in one of the company fields. He saw the value and profit opportunities that breeding, developing and growing newer, higher-yielding soybean varieties would have for his company and farmers. While yield checking the soybean lines, he came to understand what a conventional breeding program could bring to the soybean industry and growers.

More about Harry Stine


Jeanne Poppe

Jeanne Poppe is a Minnesota politician and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), she represents District 27B, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Freeborn, and Mower counties in the southeastern part of the state. She is also an educator and counselor at Riverland Community College, with campuses in Albert Lea, Austin and Owatonna.

More about Jeanne Poppe


Gene Pelowski Jr.

Gene P. Pelowski, Jr. (born February 1952) is Minnesota politician and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), he represents District 28A, which includes Winona County in southeastern Minnesota. He was also a teacher at Winona Senior High School in Winona.

More about Gene Pelowski

State Director of Minnesota

Brad Finstad

A fourth generation resident of the New Ulm, MN area, Brad Finstad is no stranger to rural America and the importance of continuing its prosperity.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Agriculture Education with an emphasis in Rural Leadership Development, Finstad began his career in the Human Resources department for Christansen Family Farms, introducing him to “real people, the real world and agricultural production.” From there, Finstad’s career took him on a whirlwind of rural government, policy, and legislative service spanning more than 20 years. Starting with a brief role as Area Director with the Minnesota Farm Bureau, to agriculture staff for Congressman Mark Kennedy, to three terms representing District 21B in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and most recently serving as Executive Director of the Center for Rural Policy Research. Finstad has spent his career serving the interests of rural communities.

More about Brad Finstad

State Executive Director, Minnesota

Joe Martin

Joe Martin was appointed by the Trump Administration to serve as the state executive director of the Minnesota Farm Service Agency (FSA) in November 2017.

Martin grew up on a diversified crop, livestock and horticulture farm in Benton County, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts in communications and a minor in political science.

Over the course of his career, he has served as the director of government relations for Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, director of congressional relations for American Farm Bureau Federation, assistant commissioner of Minnesota Department of Agriculture, executive director of Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and the communications manager for DuPont Pioneer’s Northern Business Unit. Martin also worked as a private consultant on a variety of agricultural issues and projects, ranging from sustainability to workforce development.

The Rural Legislative Forum has a long and rich history of focusing on key policy topics, as well as connecting community leaders with their elected officials to discuss issues affecting our farms and local communities.

Kent ThesseSenior Vice President MinnStar Bank
December 2018 Rural Legislative Forum Sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor

Dinner Sponsor

Reception Sponsor

Badge Sponsor

Program Sponsor

Table Sponsors

Student Participation Supported by CLA Foundation

Media Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors