What is on the minds of rural Minnesotans?

The Minnesota Farmers Union, a grassroots farm organization, will hold a Rural Voices Discussion for farmers and rural residents at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 17 at Grand Arbor, 4403 Pioneer Road SE in Alexandria.

"It is not easy for many rural Minnesotans to get to the State Capitol or even to make their voices heard online," said MFU President Gary Wertish in a news release. "Our Rural Voices Discussions provide the opportunity for farmers and rural residents to speak out about issues affecting them, directly with people who need to know about it.

"With negative farm income, unsustainable health care costs, lack of internet access and crumbling roads, rural people are facing some tough times. We strongly encourage all rural Minnesotans to attend the Rural Voices Discussions."

Wertish will lead a listening panel alongside Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and National Farmers Union Vice President Patty Edelburg. Congressional staff and state legislators may also attend.

Participants may bring up any topic for discussion, while the panelists listen and take notes. They will respond at the end. Organization staff members also take notes at these meetings for future reference, which will be compiled into a report this spring for use by media and legislators.

Each discussion will be livestreamed on the Minnesota Farmers Union Facebook page.

This event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be provided.