Winter 2015 2017-07-21T12:20:39+00:00

January 2015

Hi, this is a SPECIAL president’s report for me! For the first time since 1936, Kansas is hosting the National Farmers Unions’ annual convention! It will be March 14 through the 17 in Wichita at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Kansas Farmers Union was awarded the opportunity to host the national convention several years ago and now it’s coming at us rapidly. The theme for the 113th national convention is “Driving the Future of Agriculture”. You don’t need to be a voting delegate from Kansas to attend. Anyone is welcome to [...]

How to Feed Nine Billion People: a National Geographic photographer’s perspective

By Tom Parker If population continues to increase at its current pace, the world will tip the nine billion mark by 2050. That’s up from seven billion now, a number that during most stages of human development would have been unfathomable. The big question now being asked is how to feed them while coping with dwindling natural resources, worldwide droughts, relentless famines and grinding poverty. The answers, National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson said, might be found in the past. Richardson addressed members of the Kansas Farmers Union during their annual [...]

KFU convenes to think outside the box

By Tom Parker When it comes to agriculture, there are few places in the state of Kansas more applicable to the phrase “thinking outside the box” than GreenFin Gardens, James Sperman’s blue tilapia, fig and banana aquaponic operation located west of Wamego. Which was why several dozen Kansas Farmers Union members visited the place on Saturday, Dec. 6, as part of the annual KFU State Convention held Dec. 4 through 6 in Manhattan. “Thinking Outside the Box,” the theme of this year’s convention, stretched the boundaries of standard agricultural practices [...]

As Ogallala aquifer empties, group advocates for aqueduct to tap Missouri River

By Tom Parker Thinking Outside the Box, the theme for the annual Kansas Farmers Union convention held in early December, focused on alternative, if not visionary (and occasionally contrary, at least to the status quo) approaches to food production and distribution, livestock management and water conservation. Cole Cottin, program coordinator for the Kansas Rural Center, shared her recent findings in a study entitled Feeding Kansas, which called for more regional food hubs and a shift to crops that were more healthful and require less water; Missouri farmer and rancher Cody [...]

Ruth Hirsh Award presented to Potuzak at KFU Convention

Lavern Potuzak was awarded the prestigious 2014 Ruth Hirsh Award during Kansas Farmers Union’s annual convention banquet held Friday, Dec. 5 in Manhattan. Potuzak, who farms near Agenda in Republic County, joined KFU in 1974, served as a KFU board member from 2006-2011, and has been the organization’s vice president since 2011. He is an avid supporter of community events, serves on various boards and committees, and attends and supports many of the statewide events held by KFU throughout the year. Potuzak is the father of Molly (Justin) Hug and [...]

Kansas falling behind in feeding its own, study says

The good news is, Kansas consumers spend $7.2 billion on food each year. The bad news is, $6.5 billion of it comes from beyond the state’s borders, obesity is on the rise, 56 percent of Kansas farmers require secondary income and only eight percent of Kansans have healthy diets, according to a 2010 survey by the Kansas Health Institute. The statistics are sobering considering that Kansas prides itself as an agricultural state. And yet a new study sponsored by the Kansas Rural Center shows that though the state prides itself [...]

Satisfying producers as well as consumers critical for building a successful co-op

By Tom Parker When the High Plains Food Cooperative in Atwood opened for business in May of 2008, its first shipment of 21 orders totaling $785 in products fit in the trunk of a car. Since then the cooperative has grown at the rate of almost 40 percent per year and now consists of nearly 50 food producers and over 300 customers, with $180,000 of products sold during 2014. That explosive growth is all the more impressive when you realize that Rawlins County, population 2,589, lies a mere 50 miles [...]

New Kid in Town: Goat milk and dairy products rising in U.S.

Upcoming workshop to assist Kansas goat and sheep producers in exploring dairy enterprises By Tom Parker For 65 percent of the world’s population, the answer to the advertising jingle, “Got milk?” would be a resounding yes. The milk in question, however, is not from cows. In the United States, milk and products made from milk, notably cheese, have long been the sole domain of dairy cows. That’s changing now as consumer demand for goat milk and artisan cheese made from goat milk is on the rise. According to the U.S. [...]

Creating a New Paradigm in Ranch and Farm Management

By Tom Parker “What if we could create a new system?” Missouri rancher and farmer Cody Holmes asked members of the Kansas Farmers Union and the Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition during their annual convention in early December. His question wasn’t merely rhetorical. Holmes had asked himself the same question a thousand times, but answers remained elusive. When it finally arrived, the answer was so unorthodox and unconventional that it forced him to question everything he had learned or been taught. It was also wildly successful. For simplicity he called his [...]

It CAN Happen to You: Panel discusses emergency preparedness for livestock operations

By Tom Parker As the storm intensified, the sky grew darker, the driving rain stung like buckshot and a small herd of cattle outside of Bennington sought shelter behind an L-shaped windbreak. In ordinary conditions it would have been a likely place of refuge, but this storm was anything but ordinary. A deep-throated roar swallowed the deepening gloom, its deafening, pulsating howl punctuated by the brittle sounds of things smashing, of things sundering. The herd shifted as one and moaned in anguish and died there in that shadowed windbreak as [...]

KANSAS FARMERS UNION 2015 POLICY STATEMENT

Adopted by Kansas Farmers Union Delegates to the KFU State Convention on December 5, 2014 Preamble The Kansas Farmers Union represents its members who are engaged in various farming and ranching pursuits through cooperation, legislation, and education. The Kansas Farmers Union takes pride in defining our policy. We believe policy should address the needs of people. The moral and ethical decisions made by individuals and governments have an impact on our daily lives, and on the lives of future generations. Recognizing that fact, our policy strives to assure those decisions [...]

Animal Fiber Production Opportunities to Diversify Small Farms

Saturday February 21 from 9:00a.m.- 4:00 p.m. at the Fischer Building, 205 F Street, Phillipsburg, KS Sally Brandon, Shepherd’s Mill, and Rachael Boyle, K-State Research and Extension Livestock Agent, will guide you through the world of animal fiber production, from determining which animals are right for you and your farm to selecting a mill and marketing your fiber. This day-long event will offer the following class topics: ~ Fiber Arts for the Non-Artist: What are end-users seeking? ~ Not all Fiber is Created Equal: Opportunities and challenges of different fiber [...]

Meat Processing and Marketing for Optimal Sales Workshop

Offered in conjunction with the Women Managing the Farm conference. February 4 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Pottorf Hall, Riley County Fairground, Cico Park, Manhattan, KS. Do you direct market your farm's meats to consumers, restaurants or grocers? Thinking about including livestock on your farm? This free 3-hour workshop will help you to develop strong relationships with your processor, butcher and customers. Brad Dieckmann brings more than 25 years experience as owner of a processing facility and will give tips on improving relationships with processors by explaining the processor's experience. Rosanna [...]

2015 KGA Winter Grazing Conference: Dr. Fred Provenza on How Palates Link Soil, Plants, Herbivores, and People

Dr. Frederick D. Provenza will be the featured speaker at the annual Kansas Graziers Association winter conference on Saturday, January 31, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ambassador Hotel in Salina. Dr. Provenza, Professor Emeritus, Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University will present How Palates Link Soil, Plants, Herbivores, and People: Ways to Enable or Inhibit Nourishing Relationships explaining how the interrelationships among soils, plants, animals and people affect the landscape. For more than 30 years, Dr. Provenza produced groundbreaking results on behavior-based livestock research. This [...]