2014 Release Archive2018-01-03T16:15:24-06:00
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Kansas Farmers Union: 2014 News Releases

Below are the news releases distributed in 2014. Click on any headline to read the complete release, download the PDF and get links to supporting materials.

December 2014

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 [...]

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 [...]

Kansas falling behind in feeding its own, study says

By Tom Parker 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 as an agricultural state. And yet a new study sponsored by the Kansas Rural Center shows that though [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

Kansas Farmers Union Members Adopt Five Policy Special Orders for 2015

Kansas Farmers Union members adopted five special orders of business during the state convention, held Dec. 4 through 5 in Manhattan. Resolutions on Beef Checkoff Reform, USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, Kansas’ Corporate Farming Law, Hydraulic Fracturing, and National Farmers Union’s Educational Center were among those discussed and voted on by county delegates. The grassroots process starts on the county level, moves on to the state convention for debate, then concludes with final approval by the elected delegates from each county chapter. Two new special orders of business [...]

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 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 [...]

November 2014

Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition to hold Third Annual Meeting in Manhattan

The Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition (KBFC) invites beginning farmers and ranchers of all ages to its third annual meeting, Saturday, December 6, 2014 at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, KS. The event is being held in conjunction with Kansas Farmers Union’s annual convention which takes place December 4-5. Cody Holmes of Rockin’ H Ranch and Real Farm Foods near Norwood, MO will serve as keynote speaker, presenting four different sessions geared toward beginning farmers and ranchers. Holmes, his wife Dawnell, and their daughter Taylor raise seasonal produce and [...]

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, USDA GIPSA director Larry Mitchell to speak at annual Kansas Farmers Union Convention

Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer and Kansas native, will serve up a vast visual journey: the Neolithic dawn of agriculture, today’s world farmers working in relative anonymity, and the challenges of feeding an ever-more hungry planet through 2050 at Kansas Farmers Union’s (KFU) upcoming annual convention. Richardson, who has photographed agriculture at home in Kansas and abroad for 20 years, offers both a bird’s eye view of world agriculture — and a face-to-face experience of the people who labor every day to feed us. One major question that will be [...]

October 2014

Hands on Herd Health for Small Ruminants Workshop to be held in Manhattan on Nov. 22nd

Dr. Brian Faris will lead the “Hands on Herd Health for Small Ruminants” workshop at the new state-of-the-art K-State Sheep and Meat Goat Center, 2117 Denison Avenue, Manhattan, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Saturday, November 22. The new facility, designed with animal care and handler safety in mind, contains design features and handling procedures that can be adapted to a producer’s current facilities. Workshop participants will experience the luxury of the new facility, and be allowed hands on experience like trimming hooves, FAMACHA evaluations, and perform sonograms on pregnant [...]

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Upcoming workshops address emergency preparedness for livestock operations By Tom Parker, special to the Kontact The phone jarred Ken Powell awake. Groggy and disoriented, he glanced at the clock while fumbling with the receiver: midway between midnight and one a.m. From past experiences as an environmental scientist for the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment’s Bureau of Waste Management, he knew there were only two types of phone calls at that time of night—wrong numbers and emergencies. This was an emergency. The caller was from a turkey facility [...]

Beginning Farmer & Rancher Opportunities Meeting to be held in Concordia November 20th

All beginning farmers and ranchers are invited to a Beginning Farmer & Rancher Opportunities meeting at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, KS, Thursday, November 20, from 4:00 to 9:00 PM, hosted by Kansas Farmers Union and the Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition. The meeting’s featured speaker is Dan Hromas, owner and operator of Prairie Pride Poultry, a small pastured chicken operation located on the northeast edge of York, Nebraska. Hromas started the farm in 2013 in order to support the growing local food movement by providing healthy, farm fresh eggs [...]

Fall Forage Tour: How to Carry More Cattle by Making the Land You Have More Productive

Cattlemen and producers are invited to the Fall Forage Tour, Friday, October 31, 2014 and Saturday, November 1, 2014. The tour will begin at 1:00 p.m. on both days at the Dale Strickler Farm, one mile south of Courtland on the west side of the highway. Two audiences will benefit from participation in the Fall Forage Tour–cattle producers and those interested in utilizing cover crops to improve soil health. The tour will focus on improving soil productivity by using of cover crops, forages, and perennial grasses. According to Strickler, ranchers [...]

September 2014

The State of the Kansas State Budget Presentations: Slides and Coverage

Former State Budget Director provided non-partisan perspective on past, present and future of Kansas budget and implications for schools and rural communities Kansas Farmers Union and a group of county chapters hosted four state budget education presentations featuring former Kansas State Budget director Duane Goossen during the month of September. All presentations were open to KFU members and the general public. Goossen served as state budget director for 12 years in the administrations of three governors — Republican Bill Graves and Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson. More recently, he [...]

NFU Honors Champions for Family Agriculture with Golden Triangle Award

McPHERSON, KS – National Farmers Union (NFU) recently announced the recipients of the Golden Triangle Award, the organization’s highest legislative honor. The annual award is presented to members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership and who support policies that benefit America’s family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural communities. “Recipients of the Golden Triangle Award have been strong advocates for family farmers and ranchers, and support similar principles and policies as Farmers Union,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We are pleased to honor those who have proven to be true allies [...]

Farmers Union to Host Budget Presentations Across State

Former State Budget Director to provide non-partisan perspective on past, present and future of Kansas budget and implications for schools and rural communities Kansas Farmers Union and a group of county chapters are hosting four state budget education presentations featuring former Kansas State Budget director Duane Goossen during the month of September. All presentations are open to KFU members and the general public. Goossen served as state budget director for 12 years in the administrations of three governors — Republican Bill Graves and Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson. More [...]

August 2014

Livestock Water and Fencing Workshop Set for September 9

McPHERSON, KS – Mark Green, NRCS specialist from Missouri, will return to Kansas to offer his popular workshop on electric fencing and livestock watering options for all species of livestock September 9 in Topeka, KS. The workshop will be held at the Topeka Ramada, 420 SE 6th Ave., with registration beginning at 8:30 AM. The workshop is scheduled to last until 4:00 PM. Green’s workshop, which includes additional information for producers who have sheep and goats, is part of “Amazing Grazing II: For Ruminants Great and Small,” an evolution of the [...]

July 2014

Sheep and Goat Management Workshop to be held August 15-16 in Manhattan

McPHERSON, KS - Dr. Jim Gerrish, well-known rancher, researcher, grazing educator, and co-founder of the Missouri Grazing School returns to Kansas this August to kick off Amazing Grazing II for Ruminants Great and Small. A workshop entitled "Management of Sheep and Goats for Grazing, Herd Health, Performance and Profitability" will be held August 15-16, 2014, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM both days at Four Points by Sheraton in Manhattan. This workshop is tailored for small ruminant producers specifically, and Gerrish will be able to help producers make better choices for [...]

Ranch Management for Successful Winter and Year-Round Grazing of Beef Cattle to be held August 13-14 in Topeka

McPHERSON, KS – Dr. Jim Gerrish, well-known rancher, researcher, grazing educator, and co-founder of the Missouri Grazing School returns to Kansas this August to kick off Amazing Grazing II for Ruminants Great and Small. A workshop entitled "Ranch Management for Successful Winter and Year Round Grazing of Beef Cattle" will be held from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM August 13-14, 2014 at Topeka Ramada, 420 SE 6th St. Topeka, KS. Better management of ranch resources will lead to increased performance of the grass and forages, and Dr. Gerrish will be [...]

Low Stress Handling: It Should Be Easy

McPHERSON – Four experienced ranchers shared their beautiful ranches and livestock with 76 ranchers gathered together to learn low stress handling techniques on May 3, 2014 near Olsburg, KS. Each place had unique facilities created with ease of working livestock as the first priority. Participating ranchers were Bill Edwards, Alan Hubbard, Joseph Hubbard, and Bob Avery, with three facilities for cattle and one for sheep and goats. All of the facilities used concepts from well-known livestock master Bud Williams. Bill Edwards tries to minimize stress and keep it as low as [...]

Amazing Grazing Funded for Second Year of Programming

McPHERSON, KS –  Kansas Farmers Union is pleased to announce it has received a second grant from the North Central Risk Management Education Center to fund Amazing Grazing II for Ruminants Both Great and Small. “The North Central Risk Management Education Center is dedicated to funding projects that help producers learn and adopt effective risk management practices and strategies. This project promises to help livestock producers manage current challenges from drought to land costs, implement effective strategies including managed grazing, and position their operations for success,” said Brad Lubben, Director [...]

April 2014

Olsburg Ranch Tour to Highlight Low Stress Livestock Handling

McPHERSON, KS - Three Olsburg, KS ranches will highlight working facilities that utilize low stress methods to quietly and effectively process cattle, sheep and goats on May 3, 2014. The tour will begin with registration at 9:30 AM at the Edwards Ranch, 15225 Dry Creek Road, 2.4 miles west of Olsburg and 2.9 south on Dry Creek Road. The working facility designed by Bill, which he can operate alone, will be demonstrated at 10:00 AM. A catered picnic lunch will be served at noon at the Joseph Hubbard Barn, 5025 [...]

Kansas Farmers Awarded NCR-SARE 2014 Farmer Rancher Grants

McPHERSON, KS - The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Program recently announced the projects recommended for funding for the Farmer Rancher and Youth Educator competitive grant programs. More than 50 grant projects were selected to receive a total of more than $500,000 through these two NCR-SARE grant programs, which offer competitive grants for farmers, ranchers, youth educators, organizations, and others who are exploring sustainable agriculture in America's Midwest. For the 2014 Farmer Rancher Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $486,000 to more than 40 projects ranging [...]

‘Amazing Grazing’ Livestock Handling Workshop Attracts Large and Diverse Crowd

On Saturday, April 12th, KFU and the Kansas Graziers hosted a low-stress livestock handling workshop led by Dr. Lynn Locatelli in Salina. Dr. Locatelli, a livestock handling specialist, gave a deep, thoughtful presentation to a full-house eager to learn more about low stress livestock handling. Dr. Locatelli was a veterinarian in western Nebraska for 14 years. During that time she became interested in the Bud Williams method of low stress cattle handling. She’s currently part of a ranch management team based in New Mexico and continues to educate livestock handlers [...]

March 2014

NFU Delegates Adopt Eight Special Orders of Business

NFU held its 112th anniversary convention March 8-11 in Santa Fe, N.M. During the convention, delegates from across the country debated a number of amendments to NFU’s policy and passed eight special orders of business – resolutions that highlight a particularly timely or high priority issue on which to focus advocacy efforts for the coming year. This year’s special orders of business focused on the following topics: International Year of Family Farming: The United Nations (U.N.) has officially designated the year 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming,” and NFU [...]

Managing your desk first step in managing farm, Wiswall says

By Tom Parker, guest writer McPHERSON –  People get into farming for a number of reasons, but nobody gets into farming because they love running a business. The business side of farming is often disliked, distrusted and delayed, often with disastrous results, according to Richard Wiswall, author of The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook and co-owner of Cate Farm in East Montpelier, Vt. But it doesn't have to be that way. "Most farmers are dragged kicking and screaming into the business side of it," he said. "But the farmer's number one [...]

NFU Delegates Elect Teske Vice-President at 2014 Convention

SANTA FE, NM - Delegates at the National Farmers Union (NFU) 112th Anniversary Convention elected Donn Teske, Kansas Farmers Union president, NFU vice president. “I am so humbled by the faith and trust the delegates have shown by electing me vice president,” said Teske. “I’ll do my best to help NFU President Roger Johnson move the organization forward under the direction of the grassroots policy formed here today. Teske was elected from a field of three candidates, and replaces former NFU Vice President Claudia Svarstad, who did not seek re-election. [...]

Roadmap to profitability helps farmers find the hole in their pocket

By Tom Parker, guest writer McPHERSON –  Richard Wiswall likes numbers. In that he might be an anomaly among farmers, at least where the numbers are concerned. Some of his numbers involve planting rates and seed inventory, tractor hours, and labor costs-categories most farmers are familiar with-but he takes things a step further-okay, many steps further-by calculating, and tracking, almost every facet of his family farm in East Montpelier, Vt. He tallies numbers to an extensive degree; for instance, his greenhouse operation, is broken down by the cost of each [...]

February 2014

Farming Smarter: Building relationships, not managing employees

By Tom Parker, guest writer Farmers, like any business or corporation, have certain expectations of employees. Some of those expectations are reasonable-honesty, integrity, punctuality, a strong work ethic-while others border on wishful thinking. A major source of conflict, and something often heard by Richard Wiswall, a farming consultant and author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, is the expectation that employees should be exact clones of their employers. “We want someone who does it just like we do,” he said. “Is that too much to ask?” According to Wiswall, it [...]

January 2014

NFU, KFU support COOL in Farm Bill

MCPHERSON, KS- National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter yesterday to the members of the farm bill conference committee emphasizing the importance of finishing a five-year, comprehensive farm bill as soon as possible. “It is time to move the farm bill across the finish line,” said Johnson. “Family farmers, ranchers, fishermen, rural communities and consumers have waited long enough for a long-term plan. We are hopeful that the process is nearing an end.” NFU is especially concerned by attempts to repeal or undermine Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), which [...]

Pendletons rely on alternative crops, flowers, butterflies to grow family farm

By Tom Parker MCPHERSON, KS – Successful farming is all about timing, and for John and Karen Pendleton of rural Lawrence their start in farming couldn’t have been more auspicious. It was, everyone said, one of the best years for agriculture they’d ever experienced. Fields were green and lush from plentiful rains that turned crops to gold and dreams to reality, prices high and markets good. “Remember this year,” neighbors told them, as if it were something rare and precious. They were newlyweds, just returned to the family farm, both [...]

Not just concrete and steel—co-ops as community

By Tom Parker MCPHERSON, KS – If someone told Billie Chesney or Rebecca Hall they needed to meet this guy or talk to that person they’d track them down no matter how far apart or the amount of time it took, their journeys across the state shot through the bug-spattered windshield with a small video camera with a few selfies thrown in, the camera held at arm’s length to frame their smiling faces like a pair of bookended parentheses around a towering grain elevator jutting monolithic toward the clear blue [...]

Assume the worst when it comes to climate change and population, King tells KFU audience

By Tom Parker MCPHERSON, KS - History has a way of repeating itself, which means that if military historians and strategists peer back far enough, certain precedents can be found to illustrate patterns and models useful for the prediction of the near-term future. Unfortunately, Dr. W. Chris King told members of the Kansas Farmers Union during their annual convention in Topeka on Jan. 4, there is no historical precedence for what the nation, and the world, faces in the future from the combined forces of climate change, overpopulation and resource [...]

The velocity of change: the ‘80s farm crisis, advocacy efforts and its remerging shadow

The last thing Roger Johnson expected when he knocked on the door of a ramshackle house in western North Dakota was to see the curtain part by the long blued barrel of a rifle. Johnson, then a credit counselor for a farm crisis program, was far outside of his normal territory. The farmer, an old cowboy with a penchant for swearing and histrionics, had already chased off four other counselors—something Johnson wasn’t aware of. Nevertheless he asked the man if he could come in and discuss his plight. The old [...]

Understanding the future of agriculture may be found in our history, Mitchell tells KFU members

By Tom Parker MCPHERSON, KS- The early 1970s were good times for American agriculture, with expanded exports to the Soviet Union creating higher profits for producers, stimulating rural economies and revitalizing farm implement manufacturing. News from the agricultural sector was generally upbeat. Then, on June 30, 1975, Time magazine ran an expose piece entitled “Dirty Grain,” and suddenly Americans-and the rest of the world-discovered that the U.S. was not a reliable supplier of grain. By the end of that year 256 criminal indictments were handed down for corruption in a [...]

Climate change, the 1980s farm crisis, and the future of family farming discussed at the Kansas Farmers Union convention

MCPHERSON, KS- “Celebrating the International Year of Family Farming” was the theme of the annual Kansas Farmers Union convention, held Jan. 3-5 at the Ramada Topeka Downtown Hotel and Convention Center. Farmers and ranchers from across the state convened to discuss policy, climate change, the farm crisis of the 1980s and how its memory still shadows modern farming, the farm bill, and other subjects. A diverse group of guest speakers offered a broad array of topics applicable to today’s farmer. “There was a nice mix of topics that set the [...]