Red Wing to host National Farm Viability Conference

Published 5:51 am Friday, October 18, 2019

Nearly 300 professionals from across the country who work to support farm businesses will convene in Red Wing, Minnesota on Oct. 22-24 for the fourth annual National Farm Viability Conference, a three-day gathering hosted by nonprofit Renewing the Countryside.  This is the first time the conference is being held outside of the East Coast.

Workshops and tours will address topics such as farm and food business planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development, strengthening farm sustainability, building more resilient local food systems and supporting the long term profitability of farming and agri-entrepreneurs, from start-ups to generational businesses. Attendees will have the opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders and other professionals in their fields, develop new knowledge and skills, and tour nearby farms and value-added processing facilities.

Plenary speakers will include Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa, Tera Johnson from the Food Finance Institute in Wisconsin, Sara Lloyd of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Rodrigo Cala of Cala Farm in Minnesota, Bev Durgan from University of Minnesota Extension, Monica Rainge of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Georgia and Sai Thao of Compeer Financial, among others.

Email newsletter signup

Many of the workshop sessions involve panels and seek to foster active discussion for optimal information sharing. Workshop categories include accessing capital for growth, equity and social justice in the food system, finance and business development, food and farm marketing and distribution, new and beginning farmers, program development, funding and design, succession planning, and stress and mental health.

The opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders and colleagues will include six different tours of nearby farms and value-added processing facilities. Area farms headlining the tours include Lake City Catholic Workers Farm, Hazelnut Valley Farm, Main Street Project, Seeds Farm, Dry Creek Red Angus farm in Goodhue, an industry cluster in Cannon Falls that includes Ferndale Market, Lorentz Meats, and the Artisan Plaza, among others, and O’Reilly Organic Dairy for a look at Organic Valley’s Farmer Profit Circles.

The conference was originated in 2008 by the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, who has continued to guide its development.

Preceding the conference, Renewing the Countryside will host the Upper Midwest Farmland Summit on Oct. 21 in Red Wing to address innovative strategies and solutions to help farmers successfully transition their farms both within and outside the family, and to assist beginning farmers to attain affordable land access and tenure.

For more information about the Upper Midwest Farmland Summit, visit For more information about the National Farm Viability Conference, visit