KFU in the News 2016-11-04T21:46:02+00:00

Kansas Farmers Union in the News

As Kansas’ oldest general farm org, KFU board and staff are frequently called upon to present or speak about important ag & rural issues. Below is a sampling of local and national coverage of KFU events as well as interviews with board, staff and members.

Tax Break For Kansas Farmers That Few Know About

Kansas Farmers Union policy supports a progressive tax.
We feel if you’re making the money you should pay the taxes.

By Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
Originally published on July 26, 2016

Everyone knows agriculture is huge in Kansas.

It’s a $62 billion a year industry that accounts for 43 percent of the Kansas economy and touches every part of the state.

Following the 2012 Brownback tax cuts, farmers no longer had to pay state income tax — just like 334,000 LLCs, S corporations and sole proprietorships.

But farmers get a little something extra: They also pay no state income tax on subsidies they get from Washington. They paid no state income tax on the $479,082,041 in livestock subsidies in 2014 (the last year of available data), no state income tax on the $162,264,735 in wheat subsides and no state income tax on $109,494,713 in corn subsidies.

In all, about 40,000 farmers in Kansas receive about $1 billion a year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even many farmers think not paying taxes on this money is a bad idea.

“Kansas Farmers Union policy supports a progressive tax. We feel if you’re making the money you should pay the taxes,” says Donn Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union.

Read the full article The Tax Break For Kansas Farmers That Few Know About at KCUR 89.3

Challenging AG market affects credit, agribusiness

Low grain, volatile cattle prices impact debt, machinery sales

By Morgan Chilson
The Topeka Capital-Journal
Originally published on March 26, 2016

“(Allen Featherstone, director of the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics,) said he expects to see increased numbers of farmers and ranchers take advantage of computerized financial planning, in which his department has been training county agents during the past year.

The program allows farmers to input their own data, consider options and run “what-if” scenarios that show overall operational effects of various situations.

Utilizing programs like that may take some of the gamble out of farming, although nothing will change the unpredictability of weather, Teske said.

“Everything is always record highs and lows,” he said. “North Dakota has got corn laying on the ground everywhere, they’re raising so much up there. The North Dakota Farmer’s Union told me they’re used to getting 12 inches of rain, and the last years they’ve been averaging 35. They don’t know what to do with all the water.”

Read the full article Challenging AG market affects credit, agribusiness at kansas.com/

Farmers struggle as incomes, prices drop

Predictions indicate low prices here to stay in 2016, 2017

By Morgan Chilson
The Topeka Capital-Journal
Originally published on March 26, 2016

“Donn Teske, a rancher and president of the Kansas Farmers Union, joked that “when you farm, you don’t need to go to Vegas.”

“A lot of the old-timers are recollecting memories of the 1980s, and that isn’t a good thing,” he said of current conditions. “You know, with the cost of equipment we’re (using) now, it’s kind of like adding a decimal point to the debt, compared to 30 years ago. That said, at this point, we have good values on both machinery and land that maintained the equity base that’s so important. What happened in the 1980s was land dropped by over 50 percent in value.”

With steep drops in commodity prices — the average corn price per bushel in June 2011 was $6.38 and in 2015, it was $3.58, according to University of Illinois data — farmers nationwide struggled to meet their debt requirements.

“My operating line of credit didn’t get paid off this year, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people just like me out there,” Teske said.

Read the full article Farmers struggle as incomes, prices drop at kansas.com/

Farmers Union draws Obama administration officials to Wichita

By Dan Voorhis
The Wichita Eagle
Originally published on March 13, 2015

“We may not be the voice of agriculture, but we are the conscience of agriculture,” said Donn Teske, a livestock farmer north of Manhattan, head of Kansas Farmers Union and vice president of the National Farmers Union.

Teske regrets the evolution of the family farm into larger and more automated operations – and more like other corporations.

In the 1920 and 1930s, he said, there were 110,000 Farmers Union members in Kansas. Today, there are 1,000 dues-paying members, or 7,000 if you include family members. There are about 200,000 nationwide, he said.

“I often tell people we are more for the family farm and keeping agriculture family farm agriculture,” he said.

Read the full article Farmers Union draws Obama administration officials to Wichita at kansas.com/

More extreme weather could mean less wheat for Kansas

By Dan Voorhis
The Wichita Eagle
Originally published on March 7, 2015

(Donn) Teske is president of the Kansas Farmers Union, a populist farm organization that goes back to 1907. He is mainly a livestock farmer, but does grow some crops on his farm near Wheaton, northeast of Manhattan.

He is passionate about climate change, even testifying about it before Congress in 2007.

“Does climate change worry me? Sure,” he said “It affects all of us. It affects our insurance rates. I have to start planting earlier. I’m planting a month earlier than when I started farming out of high school, and it’s a challenge to get the crops harvested.”

He sees the need for federal action and international agreements. Kansas Farmers Union used to have a program where its members set aside 8 million acres of land for carbon sequestration.

But he acknowledged that his views aren’t often shared by others in his small town.

“I like my neighbors, and I think they like me, but I don’t bring up topics where neither one of us will change our stance,” he said. “So I smile a lot, and we talk about things that don’t cause an argument. Politicians are fair game.”

He, too, regrets that the discussion has become mired in politics, that logic and science aren’t enough to persuade people, but he’s not afraid to say which side he believes to be in the wrong.

“It’s turned into a political thing and that is horrible,” he said. “Climate change doesn’t have parties. It’s something we have to address for our grandkids.”

Read the full article More extreme weather could mean less wheat for Kansas at kansas.com/

Ag View Video: Kansas Farmers Union continues to fight for family farms

by Ken Rahjes
AgView.net
December 13, 2014

Donn Teske, President of the Kansas Farmers Union and Vice-President of National Farmers Union, joined Ken Rahjes, Ag View editor, for an interview during the 2014 Kansas Farmers Union Convention. Rahjes and Teske discuss KFU grassroots policy development and 2014 Special Orders including Beef Check-off reform, renewal of USDA GIPSA, and support for Country of Origin Labeling for meat, as well as NFU’s upcoming national convention in Wichita.

WIBW’s Kansas Ag Issues Podcast: Kelly Lenz and Donn Teske (10.14.2014)

by Kelly Lenz
WIBW
October 14, 2014

Donn Teske, President of the Kansas Farmers Union, joined Kelly Lenz on the October 14, 2014 edition of Kansas Ag Issues. Lenz and Teske discuss National Farmers Union’s withdraw from the Beef Check-off Working Group, NFU’s support for Country of Origin labeling for meat, and NFU’s position on the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule.

Listen to the interview podcast on the WIBW website.

In The Making Of Megafarms, A Mixture Of Pride And Pain

by Dan Charles
National Public Radio‘s All Things Considered
June 16, 2014

It seems that everybody, going back at least to Thomas Jefferson, loves small family farms.

Yet those beloved small farms are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Big farms are taking over.

According to the latest census of American agriculture, released this year, there are two million farms in America. But just four percent of those farms account for two-thirds of all agricultural production.

There are, of course, mixed feelings about this trend, even among farmers themselves. Talking to people in rural communities, one hears resignation, sadness, even some anger. Because as farms grow bigger, many small towns are shrinking and even dying.

Read the article and listen to the story on the NPR website.

Kansas ag makes issue of National Geographic

Tom Giessel harvests wheat on his farm near Larned, Kansas   Photo: Jim Richardson as published in National Geographic Magazine, May 2014

By Kathy Hanks
Garden City Telegram
Originally published on April 25, 2014

Kansas is featured in the latest edition of National Geographic, with photographs of two agricultural producers plus an aerial view of wheat harvest.

Jim Richardson of Lindsborg took several of the photos. They include Larned farmer Tom Giessel standing in the harvest field with storm clouds in the background.

Frank Reese, a turkey rancher near Lindsborg, was also included for a series that begins in this issue focusing on food and the challenge of feeding the global population, which is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.

– See more at: http://gctelegram.com/news/HUTCH-National-Geographic-focuses-on-ag#sthash.IOMQgEab.dpuf

Kansas is featured in the latest edition of National Geographic, with photographs of two agricultural producers plus an aerial view of wheat harvest.

Jim Richardson of Lindsborg took several of the photos. They include Larned farmer Tom Giessel standing in the harvest field with storm clouds in the background.

Frank Reese, a turkey rancher near Lindsborg, was also included for a series that begins in this issue focusing on food and the challenge of feeding the global population, which is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.

Read the full article  Kansas ag makes issue of National Geographic at gctelegram.com

Read the National Geographic Magazine May 2014 Editor’s Note: Food for Thought at nationalgeographic.com

Kansas is featured in the latest edition of National Geographic, with photographs of two agricultural producers plus an aerial view of wheat harvest.

Jim Richardson of Lindsborg took several of the photos. They include Larned farmer Tom Giessel standing in the harvest field with storm clouds in the background.

Frank Reese, a turkey rancher near Lindsborg, was also included for a series that begins in this issue focusing on food and the challenge of feeding the global population, which is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.

– See more at: http://gctelegram.com/news/HUTCH-National-Geographic-focuses-on-ag#sthash.IOMQgEab.dpuf

WIBW’s Kansas Ag Issues Podcast: Kelly Lenz and Donn Teske (3.19.2014)

by Kelly Lenz
WIBW
March 19, 2014

Donn Teske, President of the Kansas Farmers Union,  joined Kelly Lenz on the March 19, 2014 edition of Kansas Ag Issues. Lenz and Teske discuss his election to Vice-President of the National Farmers Union and the future of agriculture.

Listen to the  interview podcast on the WIBW website.

Kansas House committee debates climate action plan

— A resolution asking Congress to oppose President Obama’s climate action plan was under consideration in a Kansas House committee today where oil and gas lobbyists squared off against environmentalists and the human role in climate change was questioned by conservative GOP lawmakers unimpressed by the overwhelming consensus among scientists on that point.

Supporters of House Resolution 6043 said that the information used to draft the White House’s Climate Action Plan was unscientific and that some doubt still surrounds the human involvement in climate change and increased carbon dioxide emissions.

The leading scientific bodies in the U.S. and the world have issued reports showing broad consensus that climate change is real and influenced by human activities such as the burning of carbon-based fuels. Debate over the human role is now largely being played out in political forums rather than in academia or laboratories.

Read the full article  Kansas House committee debates climate action plan at KHI.prg/news

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KFU opposes change in Kansas’ corporate farm law: Repeal of limit to open ownership, operation to out-of-state investors

By Tim Carpenter
Topeka Capital-Journal
Originally published on January 6, 2014

The Kansas Farmers Union is offering policy advice on preservation of family farms to politicians working for the state in Topeka and on formation of a new five-year farm bill to members of Congress hunkered down in Washington, D.C.

KFU president Donn Teske said delegates to the Kansas organization convened last weekend in Topeka and registered opposition to repeal of the state’s corporate farming law sought by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback.

In addition, members of the KFU urged federal lawmakers to develop a farm bill that advances the country’s food security, conservation, renewable energy and rural development priorities. The organization concluded the farm bill ought to retain funding for the food stamp program rather than shift that feature of food and agriculture policy elsewhere.

Read the full article KFU opposes change in Kansas’ corporate farm law at cjonline.com