The 35th annual Rural Legislative Forum, Initiatives to Improve the Rural Economy, takes place next week in Mankato.

Although it’s been around for nearly three-dozen years, this is the first under the GreenSeam umbrella, and Director Sam Ziegler said, “It started a long time ago, with the AgriWomen’s Association at University of Minnesota, and it’s just kind of changed hands over the years but, overall, the message has been very much the same; have a conversation about our rural economy, have a conversation about agriculture, have a conversation with legislators or key elected officials and some additional speakers that really put the picture together.”

GreanSeam director Sam Ziegler.

Ziegler said the event is geared toward a wide range of attendees and is, “A reception with key public leaders, with agribusiness leaders, with farmers, with main street businesses — because agriculture does really have an impact on all of those. It’s an opportunity for everybody to get together, hear from leadership in our state, hear from entrepreneurs, the Federal Reserve and have a conversation about our rural economy and how do we grow it.”

A new farm bill will be drafted this year, and Ziegler explained that the legislation doesn’t just impact farmers. “A lot of rural development components are part of the farm bill, and there will be some of that touched on with Amber Hanson from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. She’s their policy director and she’ll touch on some of the farm bill related components,” he said.

Joe Mahone with the Federal Reserve will speak at the forum, and Ziegler say the opportunity to hear his message is a timely one, “Even what you talked about yesterday, stock markets went down and there is concern about interest rate rise, right? Well, here’s a person from the Federal Reserve to talk about what they see.”

The forum is Thursday, February 15 at 4:00 p.m. at the Verizon Center. Registration is available on the GreenSeam website. Until Sunday, Ziegler said tickets are buy one, get one half off. Regular ticket prices are $50 per person.