Those interested in attending this year's political forums at Minnesota Farmfest can do so from the comfort of their own home.

Farmfest virtual forums will take place this week and include debates between U.S. Senate and Congressional candidates, discussions on farm safety, underserved farmers and the current state of the ag economy.

“We want to ensure that Farmfest is still a resource for the ag community, even in an environment where we aren’t able to hold an in-person event,” said Melissa Sanders Carroll, executive director for IDEAg, which produces the show. “Farmfest Virtual is designed to provide attendees with current ag issues and ag education from the safety of their farms.”

Sanders Carroll called the political forums a "highly anticipated part" of the fest, and even more so now during an important election year.

Minnesota Farmfest was to take place this week in Redwood County, Minn., for its 38th year. The annual get-together was called off last month by IDEAg, which is owned by American Farm Bureau Federation.

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Niki Jones, marketing manager for IDEAg, said the cancellation of this year's Farmfest as well as Dakotafest (in Mitchell, S.D.) won't affect the company's ability to hold future fests. She said last year the combined attendance of the two fests was estimated to be over 54,000.

All of the online forums will be available virtually, and attendees interested in asking panelists a question can register at Farmfest.com.

Anyone can watch the sessions live on Farmfest.com or on the Minnesota Farmfest Facebook page.

The scheduled times slots and panelists are:

Tuesday, Aug. 4

  • 9 a.m.: Staying Safe & Staying in Business. Moderator: Paul Aasen, president of the Minnesota Safety Council. Panelists: Dr. Joni Scheftel, Dr. Joleen Hadrich, Doris Mold, Emily Krekelberg.
  • 11:30 a.m.: U.S. Senate Forum. Moderator: Blois Olson. Candidates: Sen. Tina Smith (D) and Jason Lewis (R).
  • 1:30 p.m.: The Current State of the Ag Economy. Moderator: Kent Thiesse. Panelists: Michael Nepveux, Jason Schwantz, Mark Greenwood.

Wednesday, Aug. 5

  • 10:30 a.m.: U.S. Congressional Forum, Districts 7 and 8. Moderator: Lynn Ketelsen. Candidates: Rep. Collin Peterson (D), Michelle Fischbach (R), Dave Hughes (R), Dr. Noel Collis (R), Rep. Pete Stauber (R), Quinn Nystrom (D).
  • 1 p.m.: U.S. Congressional Forum, Districts 1, 2 and 6. Moderator: Lynn Ketelsen. Candidates: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R), Dan Feehan (D), Rep. Angie Craig (D), Tyler Kistner (R), Rep. Tom Emmer (R), Tawnja Zahradka (D).

Thursday, Aug. 6

  • 10:30 a.m.: Farmfest Women in Ag Event, Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year Awards. Keynote speaker: Sherry Saylor.
  • 1 p.m.: University of Minnesota’s Farm Family of the Year Recognition Program.