Roundtable Discussion

On-Farm Energy Production and Rural Economic Development

Germany’s farmers were leaders in that country’s remarkable renewable energy development. Southern Minnesota is seeing a significant increase in renewable energy development. It is the state’s area with the best wind resources and is home to wind parks and, more recently, new development of utility scale solar. Awareness of the opportunities and access to people with specific experience is not widespread.

This forum is designed to provide Minnesota’s farmers, especially in the state’s southern area, the opportunity to speak with two German farmers who have turned their participation in Germany’s energy transition to long-term economic advantage. Participants in the roundtable discussion will also learn about some of the latest technology that helps farmers capture added energy value. Learn how southern Minnesota’s farmers win in the new energy economy!

Co-sponsoring organizations:

  • Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
  • University of Minnesota - Institute on the Environment
  • Minnesota Farm Bureau
  • Minnesota Farmers Union

Date, Venue and Registration

Thursday, November 2, 2017
11:30am – 3:30pm, followed by a social hour

Events by Saker

401 8th Street SE
Kasson, MN 55944

Lunch will be served. This event is free to attend but we ask that you register in advance for catering purposes.

Roundtable Agenda







Words of Welcome
State Sen. David Senjem
MN Farmers Union President Gary Wertish
MN Farm Bureau official
MN Department of Agriculture deputy commissioner Matt Wohlman
MN Pollution Control Agency assistant commissioner David Thornton

Panel 1: How do farmers win in the new energy economy?


What It Takes to be an Energy Farmer – How To Turn Crap Into Gold
Jochen Oestmann, German farmer & chairman,
Landvolk Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony regional farmers association), Germany


Renewable Energy Innovation for the Farm
Mike Reese, director of renewable energy,
West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota


Community Solar Energy in Southern Minnesota
Randy Demmer


Panel Discussion and Q&A
Panelists: Jochen Oestmann, Mike Reese, Randy Demmer, Jim Checkel (past president, Dodge County Farm Bureau), assistant commissioner Thornton, deputy commissioner Matt Wohlman

Moderator:  Steve Kelley, senior fellow, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota


Networking Break

Panel 2: Partnerships that help farmers win


Legal Framework of The German Energy Transition– Opportunities for Energy Farming
Harald Wedemeyer, lawyer and counsel for law, renewable energy and forestry,
Landvolk Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony regional farmers association), Germany


Peter M. Klein, vice president for finance,
Saint Paul Port Authority
(responsible for helping farmers, businesses, and nonprofits across MN with energy financing)


Panel Discussion and Q&A
Panelists: Harald Wedemeyer, Pete Klein, Gary Wertish, deputy commissioner Matt Wohlman, assistant commissioner Thornton

Moderator: Steve Kelley, senior fellow, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota


Concluding comments, incl. from attending legislators & Berlin Seminar alumni


Networking/Happy Hour at Events Center Restaurant


End of Roundtable


Corinna Jess
Director, Consulting Services & Trade Missions
Tel.: +1 (312) 665-0976
Email: jess(at)

Dr. Sabine Engel
Director of International Partnerships
Institute on the Environment
University of Minnesota

Tel.: +1 (612) 624-3939

Organized with:

Supported by: