Hi, lots happening right now in KFU and around the country.

Building: As you can see from the cover KFU has been approached about selling our building. I think this would be a good thing to do. Delegates, please represent your counties by participation in the special convention on October 29th.

Lauren Clary: Lauren has moved on as of August 15th. She has taken a position with Dillons at the corporate office where she will use her social media skills to make them lots of money. Lauren was with KFU for 3 years and I certainly must give her credit for bringing us into the modern social media era. Probably her most frustrating part of working with KFU had to be her constant need to badger me into getting my info in timely. The job move looks like an opportunity for Lauren and in it she has the possibility of advancement, something she probably wouldn’t have had with KFU. We wish her the best in her endeavors.

Bonnie Deines, 76, wife of long time KFU activist Vernon Deines, passed away on September 13th, 2013. Bonnie was laid to rest alongside Vernon at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in Goddard Ks. I always enjoyed Bonnie immensely. She was a straight talker and pretty well told one what she thought.

Kenneth Hewson, 92, Larned: Longtime hell-raiser for Kansas Farmers Union passed away on July 30th, 2013. Kenny was never too busy for KFU and would always be available to work membership.

His obituary was a surprise to me. Kenny had a degree in electrical engineering from KSU and worked for RCA during WWII. Then he came back and taught at KSU. While there in 1948 he developed one of the first televisions in Kansas for K-State so that the basketball games at Nichols gymnasium could be broadcast to crowds at the Student Union. Then in 1952, he developed the state’s first color television system for the university!

His funeral was a K-State funeral with a power cat on the casket and a K-State purple vault. At the end of the interment service they played the K-State fight song! The Electrical Engineering department at KSU will benefit from Kenny’s generosity too whereas there was established the “Kenneth D. and Mary E Hewson Scholarship in Electrical Engineering” there to help students entering that field.

Corporate hogs: On September 27th, the second of three Judicial hearings on the constitutionality of the anti-corporate agricultural laws was held. This was done at the request of Representative Sharon Schwartz. Sharon has long been after the elimination of these laws–seems to be a personal mission of hers. And she was really pissed when we all managed to stalled out the bills to do this during the last legislative session. What caused these bills to stalled out was the issue of county rights in what is called the “county option” in the corporate laws. While it’s been mostly whittled down, there still remains a vestige of the original law left and it gives some rights to counties not zoned in regard to not allowing outside ownership corporate hogs and dairies into their counties. There were a few very responsible Senators who stood their ground under great pressure to hold this line.

The hearing was a lawyer language-filled meeting and boring as heck, but what I think I gleaned out of it was that the legal-beagles giving their opinions felt there was a 90% chance that Kansas’ anti-corporate laws could be challenged in court under the “Pike test” which in our language means restraint of trade act. But in regards to the county option, they felt that there was a 65% chance that the law would be deemed constitutional. Sharon didn’t like hearing this.

I suspect that this next legislative session they will pooh-pooh the corporate laws as unconstitutional and whisk them away into nothingness to avoid an un-popular public debate and uproar during an election year.

Meeting with Sec of Ag and EPA Administrator: I was asked to represent National Farmers Union in a meeting with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack & EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Sept 23rd. Pretty exciting, lots of hoot-dee-doos, not a lot of content. There were nine of us who met with the big-wigs, the two mainstream Ag orgs, us and Farm Bureau, and then 7 commodity groups & commodity handling groups.

After introductions, opening remarks by the two heads, and only a one-hour meeting there wasn’t much down&dirty going on, pretty much a general outline of desired outcomes. I relayed to Administrator McCarthy that I was about used up in life but had a great batch of grandkids coming on and I see her responsibility as administrator of the EPA to deliver to that generation a world they can live & thrive in as climate change advances. I told her that it appeared to be an extremely challenging role she has taken on to allow us as farmers to produce the food this world needs without too limiting restrictions while at the same time protecting the environment. We discussed how agriculture needs to address our contributing roles in climate change, both what our practices add to climate change emissions, and our role in helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

I finished by asking Sec. Vilsack to please not close down my county FSA office because “the girls there keep me out of jail”!

Government Shutdown

The government is shut down as I write this. It’s just wrong for a faction within Congress to hold our country hostage like this. It’s bad enough that Federal employees are being furloughed for something they didn’t have anything to do with, but if this stupid hostage situation continues and they start messin with defaulting on the Federal debt, recovery might be long and difficult.

Congress can’t even do something as simple as pass a Farm Bill, a traditionally bi-partisan endeavor. What an embarrassment!

“For in a Democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interests or politics, holds office. Every one of us is in a position of responsibility, and in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We the people are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve,” wrote President John F. Kennedy in his book “Profiles in Courage”. How timely are those words, written in 1955, today?

I fervently hope our country survives these nuts we have elected to office. WE are to blame. If you don’t vote, shame on you. Register and vote. When you vote, don’t vote passion. Mob mentality is ALWAYS counter-productive.Think logically about your choices. It’s an opportunity and a power too many in our world do not have.