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landscape illustration of filed and a road promoting 2019 KFU State Convention "The Road Ahead: Framing a Future for Agriculture, Kansas, and Our Communities, December 4-5, 2019 at Doubletree in Lawrence KS

Make plans to attend the KFU Convention, December 4-5, 2019 at the DoubleTree, Lawrence. Special guests for the two-day event include Lt Governor Lynn Rogers, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, Austin Frerick, Rob Larew, Tom Giessel, Matt Sanderson, and John K. Burchill.

This year’s theme of The Road Ahead  appears many times as we discuss ways of Framing the Future for Agriculture, Kansas, and Our Communities. Explore diverse perspectives on what a truly Progressive Farm Program would look like and how can we make it happen. The Lt. Governor’s banquet keynote provides updates on the Office of Rural Prosperity and results from the summer Listening Tour sessions. With a season of Hemp research under our belts, what’s been learned and where are we headed? Dive into the challenges and opportunities facing Kansas Rural Communities – from population changes to rural healthcare, farming & food access. Grab a crystal ball to predict Hot Topics for the 2020 Legislative Session. Will Medicaid Expansion eventually pass? What’s up with the Rural Revitalization Task Force? Taxes? Talk with elected officials and lobbyists to get their take. Examine how Boomers, GenXers, Millennials and Z-Gens differ on perceptions of Climate Change and eagerness to act. Explore the stories of Kansans who worked to stop forces of intolerance in Four Horsemen and a Sage.

See the Schedule

2019 KFU Convention Schedule for Day One
2019 KFU Convention Schedule for Day Two

The General Session begins with the distribution of credentials and seating of chapter delegates. Members nominate board candidates and national convention delegates, receive a report on organization finances, and begin drafting 2020 KFU Policy. Each year, members review past policy, propose and debate new issues, and adopt policy for the coming year.

During lunch, Senior VP of Public Policy and Communications for National Farmers Union Rob Larew delivers the Washington Update with news about national farm policy and the organization.

Following lunch, Olivia Taylor-Puckett leads a panel exploring how Boomers, GenXers, Millennials and Z-gens differ on perceptions of climate change and eagerness to act. The Rural Problems and Prospects session is a deep dive into the challenges and opportunities facing Kansas’ rural communities, from population changes to rural healthcare and farming and food access. Next moderator Tim Carpenter asks a panel of legislators and lobbyists to grab a crystal ball to try to predict the hot topics during the upcoming legislative session.

The evening banquet includes the presentation of the Ruth Hirsh Award and the chartering of a new KFU chapter in South Central Kansas, as well as Lt. Governor Rogers’ keynote focused on the new Office of Rural Prosperity.

See Wednesday’s Schedule

Thursday begins with final 2020 Policy review and adoption by delegates. Next, Chelsea Matzen, National Farmers Union, updates members on the Local Food Safety Collaborative and the Food Safety Modernization Act implementation.

We’ll dive deep in an effort to answer: “What would a truly progressive farm program look like and how do we make it happen?” President Donn Teske moderates an exceptional panel with diverse specialties that will provide historical background and inspire discussion. Panelists are: Austin Frerick, Deputy Director of the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University; Rob Larew, NFU Senior VP; Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, Director of the KSU Chapman Center; Matthew Sanderson, Rural Sociologist at K-State; and KFU’s own Tom Giessel, NFU Historian.

Our lunch keynote explores the stories of Kansans who worked to stop forces of intolerance in the state. John Burchill, author and criminal justice historian who teaches at Kansas Wesleyan University, presents “Four Horsemen and a Sage.” We’ll learn about a rabbi, two priests, and a minister and their travels around Kansas to dispute a Senatorial candidate who bolstered anti-Semitic and Nazi sentiments.

Our final panel takes a look at Industrial Hemp in Kansas. Farmers across the state were enthusiastic about this new crop. With a season of research hemp production under our belts, what have we learned and where are we headed?

See Thursday’s Schedule

2019 Convention Featured Speakers

Featured 2019 Convention Speaker Austin Frerick

Austin Frerick

Austin Frerick is the Deputy Director of the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University, a newly established antitrust initiative between their business and law schools. He is currently working on a book inspired by an article he originally published in The American Conservative entitled “To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System” (republished in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Civil Eats, and The Progressive Populist). This book calls for restoring the balance of power in America’s food system in favor of farmers, workers, and small businesses. Earlier this year he also created & organized the “Heartland Forum” in Storm Lake, Iowa, the first 2020 Iowa Caucus candidate event, which focused on economic concentration’s impacts on rural America. The event was attended by a number of presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. He’s a former economist at the United States Department of the Treasury and a researcher at the Congressional Research Service. He’s an Iowa native and graduate of Grinnell College and the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Featured 2019 Convention Speaker Rob Larew

Rob Larew

As Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for National Farmers Union, Rob Larew advocates for family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in Congress and the executive branch. Prior to his employment with NFU, Larew served over 22 years in Congress and USDA working on agriculture policy and communication. Most recently he was the staff director of the House Committee on Agriculture where he oversaw the committee’s efforts during the 2008 and 2014 farm bills. He previously served as the Director of Congressional and Public Affairs at the Food Safety and Inspection Service at USDA and worked as an agricultural aide to Rep. Collin Peterson and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. Larew was raised on a dairy farm in Greenville, West Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dairy Science and completed graduate work in agronomy from Penn State.

Featured 2019 Convention Speaker Bonnie Lynn-Sherow

Bonnie Lynn-Sherow

Dr. Lynn-Sherow researches and teaches North American agricultural, environmental, Native 
American and Digital History and their intersections. She is the founding director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies at Kansas State University where she and her students have been helping communities regain and restore their historical identities for fourteen years. Lynn-Sherow received the KSU Provost’s award for Engagement in 2018 and she was awarded a $100,000 NEH Public Access grant also in 2018 for her work with small historical societies. She is the author most recently of Sauble: Stories from the Flint Hills, an oral history of the Sauble Ranch as related to her by Patrick Henry Sauble, the grandson of one of David Sauble, one of the earliest ranchers in Chase County in the Flint Hills. She and her husband Jim Sherow have four daughters and live in Manhattan, KS.

Featured 2019 Convention Speaker Matthew R. Sanderson

Matthew R. Sanderson

Dr. Matthew Sanderson is the Randall C. Hill Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work and Professor of Sociology at Kansas State University. He is a social scientist with interests in population, environment, and development. His recent research investigates how social relations inhibit or allow natural resource conservation. His projects examine how social structures influence groundwater management at multiple scales (from community to global); how social networks shape participation in group decision-making within common pool resource settings; how social factors affect adoption of irrigation technologies; and how culture influences perceptions of the science, knowledge, and information used to make decisions about agricultural adaptations.
Dr. Sanderson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Economics and a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from Kansas State University. He earned his Doctorate in Sociology from the University of Utah.
Learn more about Dr. Sanderson’s research.

2019 Convention Sponsors

Midwest Regional Agency
Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops
Farmers Union Insurance

Midwest Regional Agency provides insurance protection to individuals, family farms and business of all sizes. Through our agents we strive to build better communities by protecting where you work, where you live, what you own and the ones you love. It is our individual and organizational goal to provide quality products and the highest level of customer service to not just meet our customer’s expectations, but to exceed them! LEARN MORE…

The Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops (KCSAAC) was established by the 2000 State Legislature (K.S.A. 76-4, 103), out of concern for the survival of small farms in Kansas. The Center works with state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, environmental groups and producer organizations to assist family farmers and ranchers to boost farm profitability, protect natural resources, and enhance rural communities. LEARN MORE…

Farmers Union Insurance has always been a community-based insurance provider. The relationships and personalized care provided by our agents, who live, work and support their local communities, are the foundation upon which our company is built. Contact us today for your free online insurance quote. At Farmers Union Insurance we value what’s important to you and your way of life. Whether you’re a driver, homeowner, farmer or business owner, let us show you how we can provide the protection you need. LEARN MORE…


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