Steve Anderson

Advocacy for rural America has lost a true champion. Steve Anderson, of Alma Kansas, was killed in a farm accident. Steve was the real deal. Where I have to temper my passion he flung it out in force. His most recent being a passionate, and accurate, letter to the editor of the Grass & Grain. But there is no doubt that he understood the corruption in agriculture that has happened as American agriculture has become chickenized & industrialized. Steve was the one who, whenever the opportunity arose, would parade in a political environment with a wheelbarrow full of horse manure… A dramatic statement…. He was the Ag man for Governor Finney and I distinctly remember, years ago, him sitting on the floor of the hearing room in Topeka when corporate agriculture was neutering our corporate Ag laws that protected family farmers from Seaboard…… Steve was a friend, I think, one never knew quite for sure with Steve. He ran against me in 2001 for Kansas Farmers Union president. He was by far more qualified than myself and probably should have been elected.  Over the years Steve would call me often. Sometimes he might actually compliment me for something I did, but more often than not it was to chew my ass for not doing enough for rural America…. I will miss him and his ass chewing…..

His recent Letter to the Editor of the Grass & Grain was hard hitting and right on the mark, and I have decided, with G&G’s permission (Thanks Donna), to reprint it in this issue. I highly encourage you to take the time to read it.


Convention this year went really well. We held it in Wichita for the first time in decades at the Hotel Old Town. The facilities were elegant and comfortable, and the staff was great to work with. Stories from the convention are all over this Kontact.

The convention’s main focus was very timely, that of the impending farm crisis, and how to pro-actively kick-start efforts to put in place services that were eventually created to deal with the eighties farm crisis. The issues were very well discussed by the old war-horses that were active then. We still have Kansas Ag Mediation Services that is funded mostly from federal dollars, but KAMS has limitations to respond to all situations and is already swamped by increasing calls. We need something that parallels the FACTS program from the last crisis re-created as well as mental health counselling. There is an almost complete lack of rural mental health counseling available here in Kansas. That service kept many stressed-to-the-limits farmers with us that would not have survived the stress otherwise the last time around.

BOD Elections

Our board of directors has some changes this year. After Nick jumped-ship to Wisconsin he didn’t think it appropriate to continue to serve as our VP. Linda Hessman, longtime KFU board member representing the Southwest part of the state was elected to serve as our state Vice-President. Thanks Linda.

To fill the gap in our southern directors, Rosanna Bauman from the Garnett area was elected as a Southern district KFU board member. Rosanna is a dynamic young lady and has been very active with KFU, representing us at NFU Fly-in and doing a lot of collaboration with our outreach and education, especially in regards to Beginning Farmers. She was our keynote luncheon speaker at last year’s state convention. Thanks for coming on board Rosanna.

Our state directors are; Vice-President, Linda Hessman, Northern district board members, David Heiens of Abilene, Matt Ubel of Wheaton, and Laverne Potuzak of Agenda. Southern District board members are; Herb Bartel of Hillsboro, Jason Schmidt of Newton and now Rosanna Bauman of Garnett. Thank you all for all the sacrifice you do to govern the great Kansas Farmers Union!

2017 Policy

We are doing something different this year. Rather than print the whole KFU policy we enacted this year we will give you the link in the Kontact to our policy on our website. If you wish to have a printed copy, simply call the office and we will send you one. We are including this year’s special orders in print because these are renewed annually and can change dramatically depending on the hot-button issues at the time of the convention.

Ruth Hirsh Awards

Normally we only present one Ruth Hirsh award annually; this year we decided to honor three outstanding individuals for their lifetime of work for rural America. Charlie Griffin, Adrian Polansky, and Larry Mitchell all received the award in Wichita. Read about this year’s Hirsh recipients on page 6.

I’m so honored to be able to consider these three great men a friend. And a friend to Kansas Farmers Union.