Well, no farm bill so far, surprise, surprise! Going to be 2014 before they finish it, if they finish it. If the conferees finish the farm bill I have a serious concern that the urban legislative vote will not vote for a farm bill that significantly cuts the nutrition program and I haven’t heard at this time what agreement the conferees have come to on this subject. We are really at risk in agriculture because I don’t know if the votes are there to pass a farm bill with cuts to the nutrition program. And if the nutrition program is separated from the Ag part of the farm program, the farm part is dead in the water.  We might be screwed either way.

On the state level I’m quite certain they will be after the county rights and the elimination of any laws protecting rural Ks. from outside owned industrial agriculture. And the whacko legislators there now are going to throw more over-the edge bills at us again.

I just heard that Bob Cormack from Dickenson County FU passed on; another good one gone.

It’s all getting depressing, I think I’ll talk about convention instead…That’s going to be fun!

We have a whole slew of speakers coming in for our convention that have know-ledge and talent to contribute for us but aren’t going to cost us a whole lot either. The best of both worlds!

Of course, one of the big dogs is our own National Farmers Union president, Roger Johnson. We are using him a lot, giving a Washington update Saturday morning and one of the two keynotes for the Saturday noon banquet. But he is also going to be on a panel for the public viewing of the documentary Farm Crisis. I’ll ramble on about that a little later in this piece. (At least I’m not abusing him as badly as my counterpart in Nebraska did last week for their centennial celebration. John used him FIVE times…)

Another big dog is the administrator of the USDA Grain Inspection Packers & Stockyards Administration, Larry Mitchell. Larry is an old friend who I first came to know back in the ‘90s when he was our lobbyist for National Farmers Union. Larry comes into the job through the right channels, Texas farmer who then went to work as a lobbyist for the AAM, was our Lobbyist at NFU, was in the USDA during the Clinton administration, helped form the American Corn Growers Assn during the Bush administration, and now appointed to administer GIPSA. Larry will be a keynote speaker at our Saturday noon banquet and then on Saturday afternoon will host a dialogue with attendees on “Helping small livestock producers thrive”. Larry wants to have an open discussion with us on what might be done by GIPSA to help us. Larry is a dynamic speaker and you will like him and like listening to him and visiting with him.

Dr. Chris King, Ph.D., P.E. is a Brigadier General, US Army retired. Dr. King currently serves as the chief academic officer for the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He is a fascinating speaker and has a striking message about global security as climate change advances and what our military is preparing for in the future in this regard. You won’t want to miss his presentation Saturday morning.

Kansas FSA director, Adrian Polansky, will visit with us Saturday morning and give us an update from that area. Adrian is a long-time KFU man. He served on various committees for Kansas Farmers Union, was state FSA director during the Clinton administration, and was the Kansas Secretary of Agriculture under Governor Sebelius.

Friday afternoon Linda Sheppard from the Kansas Insurance Department will visit with us about the nuts & bolts of the Affordable Care Act.

John & Karen Pendleton will share with us their experiences in agri-tourism and value-added agriculture. They are a dynamic, fun couple and their message can help us all as we evaluate what’s important to us is our lives. They will be visiting with the KFU convention crowd on Saturday afternoon and also with the Beginning Farmer bunch on Sunday. (P.S. anyone interested in the Beginning Farmer conference is welcome to stay around and participate, even us old farts.)

Eileen Horn of the Douglas County Food Council will visit with us about her work in the development of local food hubs on Saturday morning.

Luke Mahin will be visiting with the Beginning Farmers on Sunday about utilizing social media in marketing. Luke is a KFU member from Republic County and represented us at the September Fly-In to DC.

Rebecca Hall and Billie Chesney are two interns who were tasked with taking the work our intern at KFU did the previous summer into Co-op history here in Kansas and moving it forward. They will visit with our group about what they found and where the work is at now. Their work was funded by a CHS grant through the Capper Center for Cooperative Education at K-State.

Lastly, I want to spend a little time talking about Saturday evening. Officially, the KFU convention will be over at 4:30 Friday afternoon, but Saturday evening the Ks. Farmers Union is hosting a public viewing of the film documentary The Farm Crisis created by Iowa Public Television. After the viewing we have a panel of five with great historical perspective; Roger Johnson, the current NFU president was the director of the North Dakota Crisis response center. Forrest Buhler is the director of KAMS (Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services) based at K-State, which is the Kansas Crisis Response center. Charlie Griffin was through it all too, he worked on the Kansas Farm Crisis Hotline providing family support, rural mental health resources, and family based business management consulting extensively during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Linda Hessman is a KFU board member and worked through that horrible time in farm crisis mediation and consulting. Ed Reznicek was doing farm financial consulting for the Ks. Rural Center before there was anything going on from official areas.

I want to share part of an email Ed sent back to me after I asked him to consider being on the panel, it’s significant:

“I think it was at the January 1984 KFU convention that Fred Bentley and I did a presentation and a breakout workshop on the unfolding farm crisis and the strategies farmers should consider in dealing with foreclosure threats. The breakout workshop was in a smaller room, packed with members, with a lot of questions and a strong sense of anxiety about a brewing storm of threats on foreclosures, forced land sales, and bankruptcies. It should be interesting to revisit this period thirty years later.”

It may be an added burden for you all to stay on for the Saturday evening viewing of this, but I strongly ask you to consider it. That time in rural America was so emotional, and the results of that farm crisis shaped much of what agriculture looks like today.