Project Directors’ Meeting
Mercedes Taylor-Puckett and Mary Howell travelled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 8-10, 2013 to attend the North Central Risk Management Education Center Meeting for the project leaders of the 2013 grants. NCRMEC is funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

This meeting was to train the project directors regarding the various grants that were awarded. These grants provide training to help farmers and ranchers learn new strategies to manage complex and growing agricultural risks. The center funds results-based, producer-focused, competitive grants annually to provide producers with the tools they need to improve their risk management skills and capabilities.

For the 2013 round of grants, 66 pre-proposals were submitted; 31 were chosen to submit full proposals and 16 were awarded funding. Of those 16 grants selected Kansas Farmers Union was the only non-profit organization to be selected. The 15 remaining grant awards went to Universities and Research and Extension. Kansas Farmers Union in partnership with the Kansas Graziers Association is administering the Amazing Grazing Grant. A wide range of projects were selected for funding in project areas of Dairy, Succession Planning, Lease Education, Mitigating Drought, Specialty Crop Labor Needs, Farm to Schools Food Production, Forage Production with Small Scale Irrigation, Economic Decision Making, Farm Bill Education and Grazing Education.

The trip to Minnesota provided Mercedes and Mary the opportunity to get to know the North Central Staff that is overseeing the grant and help with valuable information that is needed to improve program delivery. Stay tuned for the many fine learning opportunities that await the Farmers and Ranchers of Kansas and surrounding states. We are grateful to our many partners who agreed to help with this effort.

Upcoming 2013 Grazing Events
How to write a Ranch and Drought Plan – The first workshop will be two one-day workshops on How to evaluate the ranch and write a plan to manage it. Ranchers will evaluate their operation and decide how to best manage it in all conditions and be ready should a drought happen and a plan of action is needed to best care for land, animals, and the ranching enterprise. These two workshops will be led by our own Kansas State NRCS Range Specialists David Kraft, Dwayne Rice and Doug Spencer. Also added to the program will be experienced rancher Ted Alexander from Sun City who has written and implemented the drought plan that he strongly believes in. A plan for the ranch helps ranchers evaluate and manage the risk factors within their own operations. Topics will include ranch resource inventory, setting goals and objectives, planning appropriate actions, creating a strategic plan, examining ranch vision and objectives, taking inventory, identifying critical dates and conditions, monitoring resources, developing strategies, implementing and evaluating the ranch plan.

These two workshops will be August 26, Emporia NRCS Office, 3020 W 18th, Suite B (North side) and August 27, Salina NRCS Conference Center, 747 Duvall. Registration 8:30 a.m. meeting starts at 9:00 a.m. Registration requested for planning food, facilities and handouts,

Livestock Water and Electric Fencing Workshop
September 10th, Mark Green, NRCS Specialist, from Missouri will return to Kansas for a second workshop that is always in high demand. Water availability is the number one limiting factor in grazing possibilities. Fence is also extremely important. The use of electric fence offers many more options for managed grazing that in turn benefits the health of the soil and range, as well as improved production and profitability. What makes Mark such an enjoyable speaker, is that he brings his many years of ranch experience to share with his audience. Mark also has two big wooden boxes of fencing and water equipment options with him. During the presentation Mark will go through his boxes and share the good, the bad, and they ugly of those parts and pieces of equipment. Producers always enjoy his cowboy humor and expertise as he tells it like it is! Nothing like having been there, done that to make one a good teacher! The workshop will have an indoor portion at the Abilene Civic Center, 201 NW 2nd Street, Abilene and then later in the afternoon the group will go to the country for some actual fence building exercises. Registration requested for planning food, facilities and handouts,

Short Grass Prairie Grazing Basics and Research
Keith Harmoney, KSU Agricultural Research Center, 1232 240th Ave, Hays has extended the invitation to tour the station and learn from various research trials that have been conducted in the short grass prairie area of Western Kansas. Keith will team the education for this tour with John Jaeger also of the center. The tour will be September 17th. Topics for the day will include: perennial cool-season grasses for grazing in western Kansas, stockpiled native rangeland for winter grazing, distillers grains supplementation for late season stocker production on native rangeland, precipitation effects on animal production and forage yield from native rangelands, early weaning of calves as a drought management strategy, results of the early weaned calf performance studies, along with a tour of the facilities and forages grown there. Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. with the workshop/tour starting at 9:00 a.m. meet at the Auditorium at the center of the station. Registration requested for planning food, facilities and handouts,

How Animal Selection and Grazing Management Improves Productivity, Profitability and Personal Satisfaction
Jim Gerrish returns to Kansas for two, 1 ½ day workshops at Salina and the Pratt area.
Jim’s will share his knowledge and wisdom of managed grazing, animal production and performance, as well as planning the ranch to also provide profit and satisfaction. His workshops are always well attended with producers leaving with a different way of looking at why they do things the way they do, and perhaps explore ways that make less work and more profit. Topics for the workshops are: What really matters in grazing management, how to build a better solar panel (for forage growth), the dollars and sense of grazing, using winter annuals and swath grazing to extend grazing, managing beef cow costs, the functional cow, the cow’s job description, why should the cow work for the ranch and not the other way around, cow size…feed efficiency…and genetics, breed differences effecting different health and performance factors, selecting for disposition, setting goals for the individual ranch operation, and to hay…or not to hay…why one should be out of the hay business.

Everyone in the grazing business should take the opportunity to learn from the many years of research and experience that Jim brings to Kansas from his being the Director of the Forage Research Center, Linneus, Missouri as well as experience with livestock production and ranch management. Sites are Salina and Pratt. Specific locations are yet to be determined. The dates are October 28-29 for one and October 30-31 for the other. Stay tuned for final details. Registration is requested for planning food, facilities and handouts.

Fall Forage Tour: Converting Sunlight, Soil and Water into Beef
Dale Strickler is a passionate agronomist that loves to teach people about soil, plants and the environment. He is a former college instructor. He now shares his knowledge on a much larger scale as an advisor/consultant/teacher for farmers, ranchers and the seed industry. Every year Dale has a test plot of a very wide variety of forages used for grazing. His tour last year attracted 108 people, who were able to walk out across the test plot, among his cattle and visualize the grazing results. Cattle know what tastes best and vote accordingly with their consumption. The results were stunning. Some forages were eaten to the ground practically roots and all while others were avoided until all other offered forage had been consumed. Dale will have another test plot this year and invites all producers to come take a look. To accommodate the working person as well as the rancher his tour will be offered on two days; the first on Friday November 1st, and the second on Saturday November 2nd. The tour will start at his farm 1 mile south of Courtland at 1:00 p.m. Registration is requested, but not required, although we like to have enough handouts.

On a personal note, we have attracted some nationally known and state experts to offer grazing education for the ranchers of Kansas. I certainly hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to learn from these folks. We have several other workshops after the January 1, 2014. We will give you those details in the next newsletter. Please make plans to join us!