After 45 years covering agriculture in Kansas and Missouri, I will “pull the pin” (retire) from Kansas Farm Bureau Jan. 31. I’ll put my pen in the desk drawer, close my computer, hang up my camera and turn off the phone. Don’t worry Insight will continue.
But I will not forget this vocation of agriculture and more importantly the men, women and children who call this vocation their own.
After a few months I may put pen to paper and write about this most honorable profession once more.
The opportunity to advocate on behalf of agriculture for 45 years has given me a reason to believe. No other career I could have embarked on would have fulfilled my inner need to remain connected to a life I was born into 70 years ago in northwestern Kansas.
My family and four others literally carved the community of Angelus out of the prairie during the waning years of the 19th Century. Before settling in northwestern Kansas, they’d settled in up-state New York by way of Germany in the early 1830s. From there they moved to a small farm near Milwaukee, Wis. A decade later, on to Wein, Mo. and finally the short-grass prairie on the great High Plains.
Growing up in a family of hard working, dedicated German and French immigrants, I was destined to “tell the story of agriculture.” I will carry a place in my heart for the farmers and ranchers who remain a part of this vocation as long as I inhabit this old world.
After four decades of writing a weekly column, starting “Kansas Living” magazine, producing “Insight” on the radio, “Voice of Ag” radio spots, writing speeches for three Kansas Farm Bureau presidents, video production and managing KFB’s print media department, far too many events occurred to mention them all. Here are a few highlights:
Droughts, killing freezes, brutal winters with blizzards and loss of livestock, farm bills including the Freedom to Farm spearheaded by Kansas’s own Sen. Roberts, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin cutting wheat at the Rau farm in Sedgwick County followed by a visit from the white combine.
The advent of animal welfare including PETA and HSUS, Waters of the U.S. in a semi-arid western Kansas, the over appropriation of irrigation out of the Ogallala Aquifer, yearly Governor’s tours, Farm Bureau members lobbying congress in D.C. led by KFB President John Junior Armstrong in ’78.
So much history, so much fun and so many wonderful farm families. The opportunity to visit farms and ranches in all 105 counties. The chance to visit with members – in their pickups, combines or drive through a pasture filled with fleshy momma cow-calf pairs – as they proudly showed me their farms and shared the intimate details of their lives and livelihood.
I also witnessed the sorrow and pained hurt in the eyes of a wheat farmer a few minutes after a hailstorm hammered his crop into the ground. Followed by his vision and hope for the next great year. I’ll never forget and always cherish these moments.
I will remember always the friendships forged with farmers and ranchers throughout Kansas. We all share a love of this business of agriculture, each other and our Farm Bureau organization.
This continues to make Farm Bureau the best. We care on a personal level. Our families and lives became intertwined.
We share common concerns. Kansas agriculture remains a moving target, always changing. What’s right for you, may be wrong for me. Still, in Farm Bureau, we work together to find solutions for our shared industry.
At the end of the day, week, month or year, we love our great organization. We’re unafraid to tilt at windmills like the brave Don Quixote. We toil behind the scenes “to finish the task,” driven by dedicated farm and ranch leaders and dedicated staff, we make a difference in the agricultural vocation.
While it may seem like a long, hard road, it’s been an exhilarating ride. One I wouldn’t change for anything. I’m truly honored and humbled to have served with each one of you.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A new study says Kansas goes farther than any other state in limiting state and local agencies from influencing policy about food nutrition labels and portion sizes.
The Kansas News Service reports that New York University researcher Jennifer Pomeranz’s recent study found that Kansas does more to limit the authority of local governments on food policy than any of the 13 other states with similar legislation.
The state’s 2016 pre-emption law prevents local authorities from restricting portion sizes, taxing soda and sugary drinks and banning “incentive items,” such as toys in a McDonald’s Happy Meal.
Similar bills have been cropping up across the country, but Pomeranz says Kansas’ law goes further than others by limiting the state Legislature’s power.
Pomeranz says Kansas basically handed over control of food policy issues to the federal government.
TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) announces the availability of its latest report, Lessons Learned from Specialty Crop Growers Across Kansas. The 42-page report is a compilation of five previously published profiles of successful Kansas specialty crop growers, plus the proceedings of a one-day facilitated discussion in February 2018 between those experienced growers and five beginning specialty crop growers.
“Interest continues to grow among Kansas farmers and want-to-be farmers for ways to diversify their farms or to find new enterprises for the growing market demand for local, fresh fruits and vegetables,” stated Mary Fund, KRC Executive Director. “This report is a modest attempt to share information among growers, and to document what
growers see as the challenges and needs if specialty crop production is to move forward in Kansas.”
Kansas only grows about 4% of the fruits and vegetables it consumes, which points to potential economic opportunity. Historically, Kansas grew many more acres of specialty crops until commodity crop agriculture took over most of those acres.
The Lessons Learned report is available online at the Kansas Rural Center’s website at website https://kansasruralcenter.org/growing-under-cover/. A limited number of hard copies are also available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Farmers profiled include Dave Svaty of Svaty’s Produce near Kanopolis, Frank Gieringer of Gieringer’s Orchard and Berry Farm near Edgerton, Chris and Christi Janssen’s C and C High Tunnels in Scandia, Dan and Kathy Kuhn’s The Depot Market in Courtland, and Nina and Jeter Isley’s Y Knot Farm and Ranch near Bird City in far northwest Kansas.
Most feature high tunnel or hoop house production in addition to field production. Crops feature a full range of vegetables from salad greens, tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins to a variety of fruits: you-pick strawberries and other berries, and apples and peaches. More than one also direct market grass fed beef, lamb and chicken. One also raises certified organic grains and another conventional grain crops.
The report joins KRC’s trilogy of specialty crop guides: Growing Under Cover: Polytunnel Options (December 2014, Updated Oct. 2018); Growing Under Cover: A Kansas Grower’s Guide, 2016; and Growing Over Cover: A Kansas Specialty Crop Grower’s Guide to Cover Crops. All are available for download in color and/or black and white at KRC’s website https://kansasruralcenter.org/growing-under-cover/.
Hard copies are also available upon request for the Growing Under Cover: A Kansas Growers Guide.
The report was published as part of a project supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the SCBG Program at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Kansas.
Growing Over Cover: A Kansas Specialty Crop Grower’s Guide to Cover Crops is the latest publication in the Kansas Rural Center’s series of grower guides for fruit and vegetable growers in Kansas. The guide is now available for download on the KRC website, and a limited number of hard copies are available by contacting KRC.
Growing Over Cover was prepared with funding from the Kansas Department of Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through Grant No. 16-SC-BGP-KS-044.
The guide is the third in a series of specialty crop guides prepared by the Kansas Rural Center in collaboration with Kansas State University Extension. The first was Growing Under Cover: A Guide to Polytunnel Options that outlines the choices available for low and high tunnels, and how to select the right plastic tunnel or hoophouse option for you. Available at http://kansasruralcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Growing-Under-Cover-0-FULL.pdf.
The second guide is Growing Under Cover: A Kansas Grower’s Guide that provides basic management strategies for hoophouse or high tunnel production, as well as enterprise budgets for seven major specialty crops popular in hoophouses including tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, peppers, leafy greens and root vegetables. It is available at KRC’s website at https://kansasruralcenter.org/growing-under-cover-a-kansas-growers-guide/.
The Kansas Rural Center is a non-profit research, education and advocacy organization promoting a sustainable agriculture and food system.
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today issued the following statement regarding Senator Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) plan to retire from the United States Senate at the end of his term in 2020:
“Senator Pat Roberts has had an impressive tenure as a leader in both the House and the Senate, and has served Kansans honorably as chairman of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee. Pat’s leadership, wit and ability to bring individuals on both sides of the aisle together, skills he honed in service to our nation as a U.S. Marine, will be missed in Congress. It’s been an honor to work with the senior senator from Kansas on behalf of our state. Thank you, Pat, for your friendship and many years of service.”
Governor Jeff Colyer released the following statement regarding the retirement of U.S. Senator Pat Roberts:
“Senator Pat Roberts has spent more than 30 years serving the people of Kansas, and during that time he has been a shining example of statesmanship. The work that he has done for our state, especially in the agricultural sector, is second to none. Throughout his time in office, Kansans have been able to rely on Pat Roberts’ expertise, energy, and gravitas. It is essential that our next U.S. Senator bring these same qualities to the job.”
Veteran Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is preparing to announce whether he will seek re-election in 2020.
Roberts scheduled a “special announcement” for Friday morning at the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s headquarters in Manhattan. Roberts is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is making the announcement weeks after Congress approved a massive farm bill.
Spokeswoman Stacey Daniels said the senator will announce his plans, declining to say whether he will seek re-election.
Roberts is 82 and is serving his fourth term in the Senate. He began his career on Capitol Hill as an aide in 1967.
His longevity became a political liability during tough primary and general election races in 2014.