Between two weather systems giving us ground blizzard conditions late in January, I headed to Fargo, N.D., to participate in Minnesota Farm Bureau's Leadership Conference.

Along with over 200 fellow attendees, I experienced insightful tours to the Northern Crops Institute and facilities at North Dakota State University, including the Beef Cattle Research Complex, Commodity Trading Room and the Agricultural Experiment Station Research Greenhouse Complex. We also had the opportunity to visit the Hjemkomst Center and participate in a service project at the Great Plains Food Bank where Farm Bureau members packed over 500 bags of food for the backpack program for elementary children.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and the MFBF Promotion and Education Committee (on which I'm serving my first term) donated $400 towards the effort. A total of $2,108 was raised during the conference to donate to the Harvest for All Feeding America program, which is a farmer and rancher led effort to create a hunger-free America. In continuing with the generosity that we in agriculture are known for, nearly $600 was raised for the South Dakota Cares Fund that aids ranchers who were affected by the Atlas Blizzard in October.

I also attended several sessions covering a broad range of topics, ranging from animal activists groups and their latest tactics employed to attack modern agriculture to how we in agriculture can communicate our story while encountering emotionally charged misunderstandings of crop technology and animal welfare and how we can prepare a place for the next generation in our farming operations.

It was a great conference and well worth braving the elements to come together with Farm Bureau members from across the state. With the numerous challenges facing agriculture today, taking the time to network, share ideas across a broad spectrum of farm operation backgrounds and learn together has never been more valuable.

Next January, the conference comes to the southern half of Minnesota and I urge Farm Bureau members to make plans to attend. If you aren't a member, why not join a grassroots organization that works on our behalf to promote agriculture and develop solid solutions to issues impacting agriculture?

Contact your local county Farm Bureau office or log onto fbmn.org to learn more.

Melinda Miller,

Stewartville