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Agricultural panelists will come to Northwest with a discussion focused on food. It is expected to be a live showing, but the event will also be streamed on Facebook live on the Northwest Collegiate Farm Bureau page.

Northwest will host the panelists at 6:30 p.m. April 8 in the Ron Houston Performing Arts Center.

There will be discussions of food safety and security, food marketing and processing, food production, and anything else related to food. Food may seem simple, but in a 2018 survey of 1,000 people by Cornell Alliance for Science, 48% of Americans said they rarely or never seek out information about their food or where it comes from. Similarly, in 2017, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy surveyed 1,000 Americans and 48% of them didn’t know where chocolate milk came from; seven percent thought chocolate milk came from brown cows.

The Northwest Collegiate Farm Bureau will host the event. The organization’s president, Reese Zollman, said this has been in the works for almost a year. Zollman said this panel was originally supposed to be held last year, however due to COVID-19 and everything going virtual, they were forced to postpone the event until this year.

Zollman said that in January, they were unsure whether the panelists would be able to physically come to Northwest’s campus, but thanks to eased restrictions for organizations on campus, it was made possible. Even so, the event is still limited to 141 in-person guests.

“That’ll be nice because they’ll have that opportunity to interact with each other in person rather than virtually,” Zollman said.

Zollman said they initially wanted to hold the event because of Missouri’s bill that focused on the advertising of meats. Since the bill was introduced, products like the Impossible Whopper from Burger King have become popular, creating confusion for some Americans about food products and their labels. He said they have been working with the Missouri Farm Bureau to put this event on.

“We wanted to talk about different packaging and that sort of stuff in the meat industry,” Zollman said.

Zollman said over the course of the year, more questions arose because of COVID-19’s impact on agriculture. In general, he said, the topics will be about anything food, now that so much has changed in the past year.

The event will feature four panelists and one moderator.

The first panelist is Terry Howell, executive director of the food processing plant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to this position, he spent 16 years in research and development roles for McKee Foods Corporation.

Another panelist is Kelli Wilmes, who is a registered dietician and an instructor at Northwest.

Next is Brian Klippenstien, who spent 26 years working with congressmen and U.S. senators such as Roy Blunt (R-MO) and former Republican Sen. Kit Bond. He now promotes the food industry and security within it.

The last panelist will be Garrett Hawkins, who serves as the current president of Missouri Farm Bureau. The moderator will be former president of Missouri Farm Bureau, Blake Hurst.

Zollman said this panel can be very important for students and many others.

“Students can advocate for each other, but of course, we don’t know everything,” Zollman said. “Whenever you develop a panel and can get people from varying aspects of the industry with different backgrounds, they can hopefully bring that knowledge together.”

Zollman said even as an agriculture major, he wouldn’t be able to explain anything in the agriculture industry because he isn’t knowledgeable in all of the areas. So, with having the panelists who are involved in different ways, there is a better chance to get a better, more general understanding.

“We want people to get a better sense of agriculture and the food industry itself,” Zollman said.

The audience will be given chances to ask the panelists questions about topics that confuse them in the food industry, and there will also be predetermined questions that were created by the officer team for Northwest Collegiate Farm Bureau. These predetermined questions, Zollman said, are to ensure important topics are addressed during the event.

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