MARSHALL – The 2023 State of the Agriculture panel discussion was held Tuesday at the Lyon County Fairgrounds. Approximately 90 people were on hand for the discussion that covered many topics. The panelists included Mike Boerboom, CEO of Boerboom Ag Resources, Mark Fischer from M & B Farms, Carolyn Olson with Olson Organics, and Bob Worth, President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.  Lynn Ketelson from the Linder Farm Network signed on to help with the discussion, however a knee injury last week prevented him from attending.

(left to right: Bob Worth, Carolyn Olson, Mark Fischer, Mike Boerboom, and Ken Franzky)

The panel covered many ag-related issues including the federal farm bill. The consensus among the panel was that the farm bill has a lot of stuff in it, but not enough for actual farmers. The facilitator of the discussion, Ken Franzky, echoed the panelists, “This farm bill, if I’m reading it correctly, only 15% of it is for farming.” 

Panelists also spoke about issues surrounding the ag industry including climate change and the push for EVs (electric vehicles). Carolyn Olson said her operation is already doing as much as they can to do their part in combating climate change but there’s only so much farmers can do. Mike Boerboom and Mark Fischer agreed that the country isn’t ready to just flip the switch to all electric because the infrastructure isn’t there.  

The discussion also covered the right-to-repair issue in which large tractor manufacturers only want their service technicians to be able to perform diagnostics and repairs on certain issues. Bob Worth said there needs to be a commonsense approach that will keep farmers safe, but also allow farmers to fix small issues without being locked out of their tractors. 

The panel rounded out the discussion by talking about recent state laws like the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill that could affect not only businesses in the ag sector, but small businesses across the board. Each panelist had a chance for one final word before wrapping up the conversation. Bob Worth spoke about mental health, “Suicide rate in agriculture is twice as high as any other occupation… twice as high. So always be looking out for your friends, your siblings, because it’s real. I know, I’ve lived it.”