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By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (January 29, 2013) In a meeting Tuesday at the Minnesota State Capitol, Attorney General Lori Swanson, recognized Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Doug Peterson for his service. This public service award thanks Peterson for his service to the citizens of Minnesota, and for his strong advocacy to farmers, the agricultural economy and rural communities.

This award was presented at a meeting during the Minnesota Farmers Union 2013 Lobby Day, where MFU members gathered together to meet face to face with lawmakers to discuss important issues.

Minnesota Farmers Union's lobby day at the Minnesota state capitol takes place Tuesday, January 29 from 10AM-3PM.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (February 14, 2013) Tom Vilsack, head of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), will be meeting with Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) this coming Saturday February 16, 2013. 

“To my knowledge, this is the first time the Secretary of Agriculture has visited the Minnesota Farmers Union office,” commented MFU President Doug Peterson. “We are very pleased that he requested this meeting, and look forward to discussing how Minnesota Farmers Union’s legislative efforts are making changes on a federal level.” 

Minnesota Farmers Union’s top legislative priorities are to implement a workable tax solution for the current budget deficit, approach water quality programs in a proactive manner, and make affordable healthcare solutions available for small businesses and families.

This meeting will be closed to media, however MFU President Doug Peterson is available for comment directly after the meeting, which is scheduled to end at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday February 16, 2013.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (January 24, 2013) Tuesday, January 15, Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and others petitioned for rehearing of an August 2012 pro-ethanol ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the 10 percent maximum ethanol/gasoline blend to a 15 percent maximum. These blends are commonly referred to as E10 and E15.

This ruling is proactively working with the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires qualifying fuel refiners and importers to annually increase the volume of renewable fuel provided to consumers.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers—which are comprised of members such as grocery and oil industry giants General Mills, Nestlé, and Exxon Mobil—claimed the increase would cause potential automobile damage and increased food costs. These claims were overturned by a three judge panel, who found no cause to reduce ethanol blends with the Renewable Fuels Standard.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (January 8, 2013) - With grassroots input from its farmer-membership, Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) has set priorities for the 2013 legislative session. 

“The number one issue for Minnesota Farmers Union this session at the Capitol is addressing tax issues in rural areas,” said Doug Peterson, MFU President.  “MFU will work with the Dayton Administration and legislators to find common sense solutions to address issues around property, estate, sales, income and deprecation taxes.”

In addition to addressing property tax concerns, MFU will be working on legislation promoting and supporting local foods, health care, farmer-lender mediation and energy.

Two other big concerns MFU hopes to address this session are the continuation of a gray wolf hunting/trapping season, and legislation supporting the creation of an Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program.

These are just some of the issues MFU will be working on in the 2013 legislative session.  Also, these are the issues MFU members will be talking to legislators about when they head to the state Capitol on Tuesday January 29, for their annual lobby day.

By Communications Director

ST.PAUL (January 7, 2013) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Doug Peterson would like to express his support to Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson in his call for assurance of debate from Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, in regards to crafting another possible farm bill. 

Speaker Boehner has been previously quoted saying, “We need to stop writing bills in the Speaker’s office and let members of Congress be legislators again… We have nothing to fear from letting the House work it’s will – nothing to fear from the battle of ideas. That starts with the Committees. The result will be more scrutiny and better legislation.” 

Representative Peterson, MFU and others alike confer that not allowing time for the Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan bill to be debated on the floor was a disregard to letting the house “work it’s will”.

MFU President Peterson would like to call to action all commodity groups to join in support of Representative Peterson, to support his endeavors of receiving assurance of a farm bill debate.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (December 31, 2012) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Doug Peterson urged Congressional leaders in the United States Senate and House of Representatives to pass an extension of the current farm bill for nine months and continue to work on and pass a responsible five-year farm bill in the new Congress.

"With Congress at an impasse, a nine-month extension may be the only path to a five-year farm bill in the new Congress,” said Doug Peterson, MFU President. “An extension must be responsible and protect baseline funding and continue vital farm and consumer programs such as the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC), crop insurance, child and elderly nutrition, and conservation.”

Minnesota Farmers Union, standing for agriculture and fighting for farmers.

By Communications Director

Governor Dayton announced several appointments that include MFU members Jim VanDerPol (Chippewa Co.) being appointed to the Food Safety Task Force and Eunice Biel (Fillmore Co.) being appointed to the MN Dairy Research, Training, and Consumer Education Authority. Congrats to them!

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (December 19, 2012) –The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, and they ruled to not change the regulations on dust from farms and other sources.

“Minnesota Farmers Union and National Farmers Union fought hard to make sure these dust regulations would not be changed and so we are pleased that the EPA came down on the side of common sense and decided to not regulate farm dust,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. 

Other common sense regulatory issues that Farmers Union fought for and won on the behalf of family farmers include: allowing for farm kids to continue to work on the farm; and country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) on food.

A federal court ruling required the EPA to update its national air quality standards for fine particle pollution and this announcement fulfills that requirement.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (December 6, 2012) – National Farmers Union (NFU) and Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) are encouraging individuals who are contemplating beginning a career in farming or ranching to apply for the Beginning Farmer Institute. The annual program, now accepting its third class of students, is open to individuals who are new to farming, are in the process of transferring an operation from a relative or non-relative to themselves, or are contemplating a career in farming or ranching.

“Programs like the Beginning Farmers Institute are integral to the future of farming in Minnesota and across the nation,” said MFU President Doug Peterson. “The Beginning Farmers Institute helps new and transitioning farmers navigate the path to successful farm ownership, and we encourage anyone interested to apply for this great opportunity.”

The BFI program helps students gain insight and practical skills needed by beginning farmers and ranchers, including business plan writing, financial planning, and researching available programs to help starting up and sustaining a successful operation.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (November 19, 2012) The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held its 71st annual state convention on Saturday, November 17 and Sunday, November 18.  Policy and special orders were passed, and delegates were elected for the National Farmers Union Convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, March 2-5.

“The delegates at our convention had an opportunity to express concerns and make changes to our policy – everyone has a voice in Minnesota Farmers Union,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.  “That is why our convention is so important because our members discuss the crucial issues of rural Minnesota and make changes to our policy that will improve the future of family farmers and rural communities.”

The MFU delegates passed a special order of business urging Congress to pass, and the president to sign, a five-year farm bill by the end of the year.  The special order also expressed that MFU is opposed to any extension of the current, expired farm bill. The delegates addressed the expiring estate and depreciation taxes, and passed resolutions in support of local food, renewable energy, and property tax relief.

By Communications Director

Mitchell Farmer-Lies, Jennifer Roberts, Cheyenne Corbett & Nathan Magnell.

ST. PAUL (November 17, 2012) Minnesota Farmers Union gave out its Torchbearer award at their 71st annual state convention. In order to be eligible to win the Torchbearer Award, the youth needed to be involved with the Farmers Union education program for at least four years. Each individual also attended the Farmers Union All-States Leadership Camp, which is where individuals who have distinguished themselves as leaders meet with other Farmers Union youth from throughout the country in Bailey, Colorado at the National Farmers Union Education Center.

The award winners were: Nathan Magnell, son of Dennis & Danielle Magnell from Gully; Mitchell Farmer-Lies, son of Tim Lies and Kathy Farmer from Belle Plaine; Jennifer Roberts, daughter of Robin & Carla Roberts of Montevideo; Alex Chuma, son of Esther Chuma of Shakopee; Cheyenne Corbett, daughter of Laura Corbett of Nicollet; Cedric Ford, son of Gemma Pillai of Shakopee; Brooke Magnell, daughter of Toni Magnell of Oklee, and Justin McPeak, son of Janet McPeak from Hamburg.

“Receiving the Torchbearer Award is a great accomplishment and one these youth should be proud of,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “I congratulate them on their achievement and thank them for being a dedicated member of the Minnesota Farmers Union family.”

Since the 1930's, becoming a Torchbearer has marked the conclusion of a Farmers Union young person's work in the youth program, and the commencement of his/her participation into adult Farmers Union activities.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (November 17, 2012) Maydean Petersen of Willmar received the Youth Education Award from Minnesota Farmers Union at their 71st annual state convention. 

“Maydean has been serving the youth that attend our education camps at Sibley State Park for twenty-five years, which is an incredibly impressive undertaking,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.  “Minnesota Farmers Union appreciates the dedication and great care she has given the Farmers Union youth by preparing healthy and nutritious meals and are thrilled to honor her with our Youth Education Award.”

Maydean Petersen began cooking for Minnesota Farmers Union camp at Sibley State Park in 1997. She is the oldest of fifteen children and so she started cooking and canning at age seven, in order to help her mother with the family.

She worked for Willmar Poultry for seven years, managed 4-H Food Stand at the Kandiyohi County Fair for 24 years, and at Ridgewater College since 1992, and now works for Taher Foods where she cooks, is a cashier and does cake decorating. Maydean is very active in her church, St. John’s Lutheran in Raymond. She is the President of Lakeland Conference.

Pie baking is one of Maydean’s favorite things to do, including teaching young 4-H children, as well as adults, to bake pies. She also enjoys cooking, canning, gardening and crafts, crocheting, and quilting. 

Maydean is married to Calvin Petersen, and they live in Willmar. They have three grown children: Dwight (Debbra), Mark (Amanda) & VaLoris (Tony Anderson), and seven grandchildren.

MFU Pres Peterson & Maydean Petersen

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (November 17, 2012) Chad Smith, formerly of KLGR, received the Outstanding Agricultural Reporting Award from Minnesota Farmers Union at their 71st state convention. 

“Chad is always ready to dig in and get to the bottom of a story, which is always a positive in agriculture reporting,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “He does a great job at serving the agriculture community and why Minnesota Farmers Union wanted to honor him for his work and service to rural Minnesota.”

Chad got into radio in the summer of 1990. He has moved up and down the dial, with stops in Marshall, Minnesota; Watertown, South Dakota, and most recently Redwood Falls, Minnesota.  He started with KLGR in Redwood Falls in 2005 and was named Farm Director full time in 2007, which took him all over - from the Twin Cities, to Farmfest, to California. He doubled the farm broadcast ratings since he took over in 2007. He also does sports broadcasting and is approaching 1,000 games in his radio career, covering football, basketball, hockey, softball, and baseball.

Chad is from Redwood Falls and he and his wife Monique have six children, Derrick, Braedan, Talisa, Kieran, Gaelan, and Lochlan.

MFU Pres Doug Peterson & Chad Smith

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (November 17, 2012) Minnesota Farmers Union honored Norma Hanson of Goodridge with their Lifetime Achievement Award at their 71st annual state convention.

“Norma Hanson always fights for what she thinks is fair and is an excellent proponent of agriculture policy that helps the family farmer and rural Minnesota,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.  “She has spent her life fighting for others and Minnesota Farmers Union is proud to honor her with our Lifetime Achievement Award and thank her for her years of service fighting for family farmers.”

Norma and her husband Lynn started farming 160 acres in 1955, raised hogs and began their reg­istered Ayrshire dairy herd, while growing small grain crops; it eventually expanded to 880 acres, which they still farm. She takes pride in having maintained the herd for over 50 years, which her son and grandsons continue.

By Communications Director


ST. PAUL (November 17, 2012) Minnesota Farmers Union honored David G. Velde of Alexandria with a Distinguished Service Award at their 71st annual state convention.

“Dave Velde has been counsel for Minnesota Farmers Union and served with distinction, and he is invaluable to helping our convention run smoothly and providing legal counsel when necessary,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Minnesota Farmers Union is pleased to honor Mr. Velde with our Distinguished Service Award, it is well-deserved.”

Velde currently serves as general counsel for Minnesota Farmers Union as well as National Farmers Union, and is co-owner of Velde Moore, LTD in Alexandria. He also serves as a United States Bankruptcy Trustee.

By Communications Director

St. Paul (November 6, 2012) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) is having their 71st annual state convention Saturday, November 17 and Sunday, November 18 at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis. The business of the convention is the completion of the MFU grassroots policy, and delegates will be elected to represent Minnesota Farmers Union at the National Farmers Union convention in Springfield, Massachusetts in March, 2013.  Delegate discussion will surround the farm bill, re-instating the Homestead Market Value Credit, federal estate tax levels, and renewable energy.

“Minnesota Farmers Union policy is formed is by our members, they will discuss the crucial issues of rural Minnesota and changes that will improve the future of family farmers and rural communities. Our state convention is truly grassroots and member-driven, where everyone’s voice is heard” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.

Governor Mark Dayton will again be greeting convention attendees on Saturday, followed by a host of people speaking during the convention and banquet including: Tom Landwehr, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner; Jerry Hasnedl, CHS Chairman of the Board; Don Baloun, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist; Dr. Bill Hartmann, State Veterinarian, Board of Animal Health; Dave Frederickson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner; Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President, and Chandler Goule, National Farmers Union Vice President of Government Relations.

You can find the full agenda at The Minnesota Farmers Union Convention will be held at the Ramada Plaza, 1330 Industrial Boulevard, Minneapolis.  Contact Katie Fitzsimmons, MFU Communications Director, with any questions, 612.616.5252.

By Communications Director

FFA State Officers with MFU staff

MFU was honored to have the FFA State Officers at the MFU offices today as part of their State Officer Professional Development program. The FFA officers heard from MFU President Doug Peterson; Education Director, Glen Schmidt; Legislative Director, Thom Petersen; and Membership Director, Bruce Miller. It was a great way to continue the cooperation, legislation, and education principles that Farmers Union stands on. MFU staff enjoyed having the FFA officers in the office!

By Communications Director

St. Paul (October 9, 2012) - Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) is proud of our 4H organization here in Minnesota and would like to thank them for all their great work during National 4-H week, October 7-13.

“Minnesota Farmers Union has a strong commitment to 4-H and the good that they do. Farmers Union is based on three principles – legislation, cooperation and education, that is why Minnesota Farmers Union and 4-H work so well together because we stand on the same principles – education to further agriculture and our rural communities,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.

By Communications Director

St. Paul (September 13, 2012) - Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members return from Washington, D.C. where they expressed the urgency of the Senate and House passing a farm bill by September 30, 2012. 

MFU members with Senator Franken

“With less than eight congressional working days left, Congress still has time to get this bill done.  Farmers deserve to know where they stand so they can plan for the future,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “The agriculture sector employs 23 million Americans, that is one in every twelve jobs, plus this bill covers nutrition, conservation, energy and trade and needs to get done now!”

 MFU members with Senator Amy Klobuchar

During the fly-in, MFU members met with senators and representatives, had a briefing from senior White House staff, heard from United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and other ag officials and also attended a Farm Bill Now Rally with hundreds of other farmers and supporters of the farm bill.  

Attending the fly-in from Minnesota were: winner of the MFU statewide FFA renewable energy essay contest Brittany Utsch of Paynesville, and her father Kenneth Utsch; MFU Ag Education scholarship winners Bradley Burklund of St. Cloud, Alan Peterson of Clear Lake, and James Beck of Princeton; Dale and Grace Fladeboe of Kandiyohi; Merlyn Hubin of Westbrook; Larry Jacobson of Hitterdal; Marvin Jensen of Kensington; Richard Moen of Clearbrook; Brian Rohrenbach of Rosemount; Bill Sorg of Hastings; Gene Paul of Delavan; Mike and Jessica Ratka of Foley; and National Youth Advisory Council member Mitchell Farmer-Lies of Belle Plaine.  MFU staff will also be in attendance, and they are: MFU President Doug Peterson: MFU Vice President Gary Wertish: MFU Government Relations Director Thom Petersen; and MFU Communications Director Katie Fitzsimmons.

By Communications Director

WHAT:  Farmers Union legislative Washington, D.C. fly-in. With eight Congressional working days left for Congress to finish up important business like the farm bill and other critical rural issues, the Farmers Union legislative fly-in becomes even more crucial. Attendees will meet with senators and representatives, hear from representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture, and attend a “Farm Bill Now” rally to encourage Congress to pass a farm bill in 2012, as well as attend a White House briefing.

WHEN:  Monday, September 10- Wednesday, September 12 

WHO: Attending the fly-in: winner of the MFU statewide FFA renewable energy essay contest Brittany Utsch of Paynesville, and her father Kenneth Utsch; Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation Ag Education scholarship winners Bradley Berklund of St. Cloud, Alan Peterson of Clear Lake and James Beck of Princeton; Dale and Grace Fladeboe of Kandiyohi; Merlyn Hubin of Westbrook; Larry Jacobson of Hitterdal; Marvin Jensen of Kensington; Richard Moen of Clearbrook; Brian Rohrenbach of Rosemount; Bill Sorg of Hastings; Gene Paul of Delavan; Mike and Jessica Ratka of Foley; and Mitchell Farmer-Lies of Belle Plaine.  MFU staff will also be in attendance, and they are: MFU President Doug Peterson: MFU Vice President Gary Wertish: MFU Government Relations Director Thom Petersen; and MFU Communications Director Katie Fitzsimmons.

Call Communications Director Katie Fitzsimmons, 612.616.5252 if you have any questions, or would like to speak to one of our members during the fly-in.

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (August 22, 2012) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) always has great treats to offer no matter what the weather.  Come get some of our delicious coffee on those cold and rainy days, or a frozen chai or mocha bar on those hot days.  Also, we have a new treat to offer – the “Union,” a raspberry and mocha mixed frappe.  YUM!  Come see us at 1635 Dan Patch Avenue, where you can enjoy a tastey treat and rest your weary feet.

MFU activities at the Fair:

  • Thursday, August 23, 9:30-10:30 a.m. - Kris Valentine with Buz’N Country, 102.9 at MFU booth;
  • Friday, August 24 at 2:30 p.m. sponsorship of the celebrity milking contest (located outside the dairy barn);
  • Saturday, August 25 at 6 p.m. - 4-H auction with MFU President Doug Peterson as one of auctioneers;
  • Sunday, August 26 at 7:45 a.m.- the MFU-sponsored milk run;
  • Sunday, August 26, 12 p.m. – MFU sponsored dairy showcase at the AgStar judging arena;
  • Sunday, August 26 - 10th annual Minnesota Cooks Program from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., in Carousel Park, just west of the Grandstand Ramp.  You can check out the schedule at, and you can pick up a free Minnesota Cooks calendar at the MFU booth after the event; and
  • Thursday, August 30, 5 – 9 p.m., MFU President Doug Peterson serving milk at the All You Can Drink Milk booth.
By Communications Director

ST. PAUL (August 22, 2012) Minnesota Farmers Union would like to congratulate Brittany Utsch, daughter of Ken and Shirley Utsch of Paynesville, for winning the Minnesota Farmers Union’s (MFU) FFA Renewable Energy Essay contest.  Brittany was awarded $1,000 for the Paynesville Area FFA Chapter, and a trip to Washington, D.C. when MFU goes on their annual fly-in in September.  Her father, Ken will be accompanying her to Washington, D.C. A thank you and congratulations also goes out the Paynesville FFA Advisor, Mrs. Natalie Utsch, for her guidance. 

“I would like to thank everyone who has worked through the process of selecting me to be the candidate! This is going to be a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to sharing my experience with my FFA chapter and my fellow community members. Going to Washington D.C. will hopefully narrow my search down for a career in agriculture,” said Brittany Utsch. “I am looking forward to meeting the senators and congressmen and congresswomen that have impacted our agriculture laws today. A special thank you to everyone for making this possible!”

MFU asked FFA students statewide to write a 500-750 word essay in response to this question, “What is the state and future of renewable energy, and how will it affect and build Minnesota’s rural economy?” Ms. Utsch states in her essay, “Local farmers will no longer be just our only source for food, but also our source for renewable energies. With wind power becoming more economically feasible, solar and hydro energy is becoming more efficient, and corn becoming an infinite ingredient in our renewable energy; the local economies will prosper from all the new developments in renewable energies.”  She also finds comfort in knowing that renewable energy is not depleting the earth’s resources.

“Brittany did an excellent job of explaining how renewable energy will impact rural Minnesota, and the importance of that to the rural, and United States economy,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Brittany should be very proud of her work and I want to congratulate her on a job well done.  A bright future in agriculture lies ahead for her.”

Brittany Utsch. Photo courtesy of Impressions Wedding Photography

By Communications Director

Check out the video of President Peterson on KSTP:

By Communications Director

MFU Vice President Gary Wertish; Lee Thompson, Outstanding Ag Teacher of the Year; and Merlyn Hubin, MN Farmers Union Executive Board Chairman

ST. PAUL (July 31, 2012) The Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators (MAAE) honored Lee Thompson of Goodhue Public School with their Outstanding Agricultural Teacher Award, sponsored by Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU). 

Mr. Thompson’s teaching philosophy revolves around the concept that students learn best when they can apply their learning to situations in which with they are familiar and comfortable.  He believes in hands on learning techniques, and that students respond best when they know that their teacher cares. He has been the Agriculture Instructor for the past 33 years, and has developed a strong curriculum which includes: Agri-Business & Marketing, Ag Mechanics, Ag Economics, 7th grade Ag Explorations, Ag Career Exploration, Ag Leadership and a Work Based Learning / Supervised Agricultural Experience.  The program includes a "Life Learning" class where Mr. Thompson partners with the Consumer Science and Industrial Technology departments.  Eight of Mr. Thompson’s former students have become agriculture teachers.  

“It is an honor for Minnesota Farmers Union to be able to sponsor this award and show gratitude to a teacher like Mr. Thompson who helps the agriculture community remain  strong by keeping students interested and engaged in agriculture,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “I commend Mr. Thompson on his impressive curriculum, congratulate him on this well-deserved and distinguished award, and thank him for his dedication to agriculture.”

By Communications Director

ST. PAUL, MN (July 31, 2012) – Now in its tenth year, the Minnesota CooksTM program ( at the State Fair brings together those who value and support our sustainable food system: farmers, consumers, and chefs. Onstage, chefs will create amazing dishes using fresh ingredients supplied by local stewards of the land. As they prepare their creations, emcees Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities Public Television and JD Fratzke of The Strip Club Meat & Fish will engage the chefs and a taster panel of farmers and local celebrities in lively and meaningful discussions about their sustainable philosophies. At the end of each demonstration, the panel, as well as fairgoers, will sample the mouthwatering, farm-fresh fare.

The program begins at 9:00 a.m. with culinary demonstrations by Le Cordon Bleu students and live music from Noah Hoehn, live looping musician. There will be six hourly presentations by Minnesota’s premier chefs and cooks, beginning at 10:00 a.m. All shows take place on the Minnesota Cooks Stage in Carousel Park, just south of the Grandstand.   

“I'm very proud of what this program has accomplished. We've been in lockstep with consumers' increasing concern about where their food comes from and who produces it,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President and creator of Minnesota Cooks. “We're pleased to educate about not only where to purchase these products, including restaurants and retailers, but also the community connection that purchasing local, farm-fresh foods brings about."

2012 farm/restaurant pairings:

10am: Lori Brinkman, Elmbrink Farm with Mike Phillips, Three Sons Meat Co.; and Annette Gilbertson, Gilbertson Farms with Justin Kaderlik, Bethel University

11am: Adam Ellefson & Lupita Marchán, Living Land Farm with Montana Rasmussen, River Rock Coffee; and Todd Churchill, Thousand Hills Cattle Company with JD Fratzke, The Strip Club Meat & Fish

12pm: Gary & Sharon Thelen, Swany White Flour Mills with Alex Roberts, Brasa Premium Rotisserie; and John Hooper, Hoopers’ Yak Ranch with Arun Pokharel & Padam Sharma, Everest on Grand

1pm: Mike Fogel & Valerie Shannon, Buffalo Gal with Lenny Russo, Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market; and Greg & Mary Reynolds, Riverbend Farm with Russel Klein, Meritage

2pm: Stephen Dahl, Fisherman with Scott Graden, New Scenic Café; and Karin & Aric Koenen, Hinterland Vineyards with Nathalie Johnson & Tony Parsons, Minnesota Historic Wine Tours

3pm: Molly McNeil, Minnesota Peach with Erica Strait, Foxy Falafel; and Dayna Burtness, Laughing Loon Farm with Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer

Some of the celebrity tasters include: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar; U.S. Senator Al Franken; Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson; Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem; State Representative Rod Hamilton, Chair of House Agriculture Committee; Don Shelby, formerly of WCCO; Lori Sturdevant, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Barb Mechura, Food Service Director for Hopkins School District; Jeannie Kenevan, Caves of Faribault; and Rodney Allebach, Minnesota Farmers Union Agency.

The beautiful 12-month Minnesota CooksTM calendar will continue its tradition of debuting at the event. This stunning publication will proudly feature gorgeous photography, enticing stories about the rich relationships these farmers and chefs share, and stellar recipes. For the duration of the fair, it will be available at Minnesota Farmers Union’s building at 1635 Dan Patch Avenue.

For a sneak peak at some of what the Minnesota CooksTM program has to offer, check out this video from one of our partners, Twin Cities Public Television, on the Farmers and Chefs of Minnesota,

Minnesota Cooks is presented by Minnesota Farmers Union. For more information about Minnesota Cooks, please visit the website at, e-mail, or “like” Minnesota Cooks on Facebook,

Minnesota Farmers Union, Standing for Agriculture, Fighting for Farmers (