By Holly Bernstein

Minnesota Farmfest kicked off Tuesday, in part with a panel on agriculture policy.

Discussion included topics such as the drought.

“We have to come up with solutions to disaster, whether it’s drought, that is going to give farmers of all kinds, some certainty going forward,” said Rob Larew, National Farmers Union President.

On top of the current drought, panelists also discussed the future of the next Farm Bill, which is slated for 2023.

“Because we have the opportunity now to start those discussions and get input from those people that it affects,” Rep. Michele Fischbach (R - Minnesota) said.

Some panelists argued for the inclusion of crop insurance in that bill.

Panelists also expressed the importance of broadband infrastructure, something Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D - Minnesota), who is participating in Farmfest virtually this year, is working for in the federal infrastructure package.

“It’s $65 billion and the money is to be used to get higher speed Internet and then to areas that have no Internet at all,” she said.

Broadband infrastructure is something farmers, like Perry Oftedahl, say is crucial.

“We need it out there in rural Minnesota. Farming has gotten to be so much precision agriculture, so there’s a lot of need for the iPads and cellphones the guidance systems are on. We need better connections out here,” he said.

Sen. Klobuchar says she would also like to see continuing work on biofuels included in the upcoming Farm Bill.

She recently introduced legislation to permit the year-round sale of higher blends of ethanol.

Gov. Tim Walz will be speaking at Farmfest on Wednesday.