Tag Archives: Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) announces the availability of its latest report, Lessons Learned from Specialty Crop Growers Across Kansas. The 42-page report is a compilation of five previously published profiles of successful Kansas specialty crop growers, plus the proceedings of a one-day facilitated discussion in February 2018 between those experienced growers and five beginning specialty crop growers.

“Interest continues to grow among Kansas farmers and want-to-be farmers for ways to diversify their farms or to find new enterprises for the growing market demand for local, fresh fruits and vegetables,” stated Mary Fund, KRC Executive Director. “This report is a modest attempt to share information among growers, and to document what
growers see as the challenges and needs if specialty crop production is to move forward in Kansas.”

Kansas only grows about 4% of the fruits and vegetables it consumes, which points to potential economic opportunity. Historically, Kansas grew many more acres of specialty crops until commodity crop agriculture took over most of those acres.

The Lessons Learned report is available online at the Kansas Rural Center’s website at website https://kansasruralcenter.org/growing-under-cover/. A limited number of hard copies are also available by contacting mfund@kansasruralcenter.org. Farmers profiled include Dave Svaty of Svaty’s Produce near Kanopolis, Frank Gieringer of Gieringer’s Orchard and Berry Farm near Edgerton, Chris and Christi Janssen’s C and C High Tunnels in Scandia, Dan and Kathy Kuhn’s The Depot Market in Courtland, and Nina and Jeter Isley’s Y Knot Farm and Ranch near Bird City in far northwest Kansas.

Most feature high tunnel or hoop house production in addition to field production. Crops feature a full range of vegetables from salad greens, tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins to a variety of fruits: you-pick strawberries and other berries, and apples and peaches. More than one also direct market grass fed beef, lamb and chicken. One also raises certified organic grains and another conventional grain crops.

The report joins KRC’s trilogy of specialty crop guides: Growing Under Cover: Polytunnel Options (December 2014, Updated Oct. 2018); Growing Under Cover: A Kansas Grower’s Guide, 2016; and Growing Over Cover: A Kansas Specialty Crop Grower’s Guide to Cover Crops. All are available for download in color and/or black and white at KRC’s website https://kansasruralcenter.org/growing-under-cover/.

Hard copies are also available upon request for the Growing Under Cover: A Kansas Growers Guide.

The report was published as part of a project supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the SCBG Program at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Kansas.

Growing Over Cover: A Kansas Specialty Crop Grower’s Guide to Cover Crops is the latest publication in the Kansas Rural Center’s series of grower guides for fruit and vegetable growers in Kansas. The guide is now available for download on the KRC website, and a limited number of hard copies are available by contacting KRC.

Growing Over Cover was prepared with funding from the Kansas Department of Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through Grant No. 16-SC-BGP-KS-044.

The guide is the third in a series of specialty crop guides prepared by the Kansas Rural Center in collaboration with Kansas State University Extension. The first was Growing Under Cover: A Guide to Polytunnel Options that outlines the choices available for low and high tunnels, and how to select the right plastic tunnel or hoophouse option for you. Available at http://kansasruralcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Growing-Under-Cover-0-FULL.pdf.

The second guide is Growing Under Cover: A Kansas Grower’s Guide that provides basic management strategies for hoophouse or high tunnel production, as well as enterprise budgets for seven major specialty crops popular in hoophouses including tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, peppers, leafy greens and root vegetables. It is available at KRC’s website at https://kansasruralcenter.org/growing-under-cover-a-kansas-growers-guide/.

The Kansas Rural Center is a non-profit research, education and advocacy organization promoting a sustainable agriculture and food system.

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts announced today his retirement from the U.S. Senate at the end of his current term. The Kansas Corn Growers Association released the following statement by KCGA CEO Greg Krissek:
“I can’t think of a lawmaker who is more in touch with U.S. and Kansas agriculture, and it’s hard for us to consider a future without Pat Roberts as a Kansas senator,” KCGA CEO Greg Krissek said. “Farmers in Kansas and across the nation have benefited from Senator Roberts’ insightful and dedicated leadership in the Senate–especially his work on the Senate Ag Committee.”

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today issued the following statement regarding Senator Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) plan to retire from the United States Senate at the end of his term in 2020:


“Senator Pat Roberts has had an impressive tenure as a leader in both the House and the Senate, and has served Kansans honorably as chairman of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee. Pat’s leadership, wit and ability to bring individuals on both sides of the aisle together, skills he honed in service to our nation as a U.S. Marine, will be missed in Congress. It’s been an honor to work with the senior senator from Kansas on behalf of our state. Thank you, Pat, for your friendship and many years of service.”


Governor Jeff Colyer released the following statement regarding the retirement of U.S. Senator Pat Roberts:


“Senator Pat Roberts has spent more than 30 years serving the people of Kansas, and during that time he has been a shining example of statesmanship. The work that he has done for our state, especially in the agricultural sector, is second to none. Throughout his time in office, Kansans have been able to rely on Pat Roberts’ expertise, energy, and gravitas. It is essential that our next U.S. Senator bring these same qualities to the job.”



Veteran Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is preparing to announce whether he will seek re-election in 2020.

Roberts scheduled a “special announcement” for Friday morning at the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s headquarters in Manhattan. Roberts is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is making the announcement weeks after Congress approved a massive farm bill.

Spokeswoman Stacey Daniels said the senator will announce his plans, declining to say whether he will seek re-election.

Roberts is 82 and is serving his fourth term in the Senate. He began his career on Capitol Hill as an aide in 1967.

His longevity became a political liability during tough primary and general election races in 2014.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Each year, more than 5,000 Kansas farmers and agricultural workers sustain injuries or acquire a health condition that affects their ability to work.

Thanks to a new round of federal grant funding, the Kansas AgrAbility Project will continue to be a resource for Kansas farmers and ranchers dealing with disabilities and chronic illness.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded Kansas AgrAbility a new, four-year $720,000 grant to extend operations until at least 2022. USDA-NIFA’s competitive grant funds projects in 20 states.

Since receiving its first grant in 2002, Kansas AgrAbility has focused on directly assisting Kansas farmers, farm employees and farm family members who have become injured or have an activity-limiting health condition/limitation to remain actively engaged in production agriculture for as long as they choose.

The project is a partnership between K-State University Research and Extension, Southeast Kansas Independent Living in Parsons, and the University of Kansas Lifespan Institute.

Kansas AgrAbility Agriculture Assistive Technology Specialists combine their knowledge of agriculture with disability expertise to provide specialized services needed to safely accommodate disabilities in everyday farm and ranch operations. These services cover the entire state of Kansas and include collaboration with extension educators, disability experts, rural professionals and volunteers in offering an array of services.

Kansas AgrAbility actively promotes education and networking among rural and disability-service organizations to increase capacity for serving farmers with disabilities and to promote understanding around challenges faced by those farmers in an effort to break down service barriers and promote successful outcomes.

AgrAbility also provides educational resources to avoid primary and secondary injuries on the farm by recommending safe practices and tools to minimize back and joint injuries.

The grant is administered in Kansas State University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering by Project Director John Slocombe and Project Coordinator Tawnie Larson.

Last week the Kansas Water Authority (KWA) met in Wichita for their December meeting. The KWA received updates on water priorities in the state but two main topics were the focus: 2019 Surplus Water Report and the Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature.

The KWA received updates on vital water projects and issues in the state including current interstate compacts, the Kansas Water Reservoir Protection Initiative, Harmful Algal Blooms as well as the Water Technology Farms. The KWA approved the 2019 Surplus Water Report, and agreed to allow the Kansas Water Office to enter into Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Kansas River Reservoirs Flood and Sediment Study. The KWA approved the 2019 Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature and they also heard a presentation regarding non-public household water wells. The host was American AgCredit and the lunch was sponsored by KITS and 96 Agri Sales.

The KWA is responsible for advising the Governor, Legislature and Director of the Kansas Water Office on water policy issues. They also ensure that water policies and programs address the needs of all Kansans as well as serve as advisors of the Kansas Water Vision and Kansas Water Plan. The KWA was established in 1981 and consists of 13 voting members who are appointed by the Governor or Legislative leadership. State agency directors serve as ex-officio members.

The next meeting will be in Topeka, Kansas in January. The KWA meetings are throughout the year and for additional information and other upcoming meetings, visit www.kwo.ks.gov.

DESOTO, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas businessman is opening a new academy to train farmers to grow industrial hemp now that its production is legal.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Joe Bisogno’s belief in the crop’s potential inspired him to open America’s Hemp Academy in DeSoto, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City. It plans to offer four-day courses led by agronomists and botanists starting in January.

“Industrial hemp is not pot, but it is a pot of gold for Kansas farmers,” Bisogno said during the academy’s recent ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Industrial hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, but hemp is cultivated to produce small amounts of THC, the main component in the cannabis plant that produces a high.

Legislators approved legislation nearly unanimously this year to allow for the production of industrial hemp for research purposes. Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer signed it in April and said the goal is encourage the resurgence of hemp as a production crop and promote economic development in rural Kansas.

President Donald Trump recently signed a massive federal farm bill that legalized hemp farming. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who serves as Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, helped negotiate the measure’s final version.

Colyer said farmers have expressed an interest, but that “there is a lot of work to do it right. It’s not going to be for everyone.”

Industrial hemp stalks can be converted to clothing, rope, carpeting, caulking, insulation, cardboard and newsprint. Seeds can be processed into coatings, solvents, varnishes, inks and fuel. Lotions, soaps and shampoos can be produced from stems, and CBD oil can be extracted from its flowers, an option for pain relief without the marijuana high.

Bisogno started the Mr. Goodcents sandwich-shop chain in 1988 and said his interest in hemp started five years ago when he asked the Kansas attorney general’s office whether hemp cookies could be produced at a DeSoto plant. The answer was no, but Bisogno didn’t drop the idea, studied the hemp business and formed a company, KMC, for Kansas Miracle Crop.

The state’s climate and soil are right for hemp because “Kansas can grow two crops a year. One in the spring and one in late summer or early fall,” Bisogno said.

A public hearing will be conducted at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, to consider the adoption of proposed regulations for the Industrial Hemp Research Program. The hearing will be held in room 124 on the first floor of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, 1320 Research Park Dr. in Manhattan.

Due to the passage of SB 263 by the 2018 Kansas Legislature, KDA is proposing the promulgation of new rules and regulations relating to the creation of the Industrial Hemp Research Program as authorized by the Alternative Crop Research Act, K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 2-3901 et seq. K.A.R. 4-34-1 through K.A.R. 4-34-21.

The regulations can be found at the KDA website, agriculture.ks.gov/ProposedRegs. Written comments can be submitted prior to the hearing at that webpage as well.

All interested persons may attend the hearing and will be given the opportunity to express comments orally on the adoptions of the proposed regulations during the hearing. In order to give all parties an opportunity to present their views, it may be necessary to request that each participant limit any oral presentation to five minutes. Persons who require special accommodations must make their needs known at least five days prior to the hearing. For more information, including special accommodations or a copy of the regulations, please contact Ronda Hutton, 785-564-6715.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Low prices and a surplus of wheat have moved farmers away from the Kansas staple for the past two years.

Now the wet weather that has kept growers out of their fields planting time this fall could further push the state’s winter wheat acres toward the lowest point in a century.

The Hutchinson News reported acres planted to wheat in 2017 and 2018 neared 100-year lows. Last year’s 7.7 million wheat acres hit the lowest point in 60 years.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall in Kansas. The wet weather that delayed wheat planting also slowed down fall harvest of other crops.

Some farmers who planned to plant wheat following grain sorghum or soybeans didn’t have time to plant once harvest was over. Many were harvesting late into November.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership, Inc. is accepting applications for Class XV. KARL, Inc. is an intensive two-year program designed for those engaged with agriculture and rural Kansas.

“The overall goal for KARL is to further develop emerging leaders for Kansas. Those who want to be on the leading edge of decisions that impact agriculture and rural communities will benefit greatly from going through this program,” said Jill Zimmerman, KARL president. “Graduates of the program become part of a network and have gone on to serve in legislative bodies, farm and commodity organizations, agribusiness, and their local communities, which is vital for the future of Kansas. Participants engage in a series of seminars throughout the state, in Washington, D.C., and through an international study tour.”

Interest is expected to run high for the limited number of seats available in Class XV as KARL embarks on its 30-year anniversary in 2019.

The program got its start when in mid-1989, a group of individuals representing various segments of Kansas agriculture met to discuss the need and potential for an extensive educational program designed to build a leadership base for the state’s agriculture and related industries. The first class of 30 participants began leadership development training in 1991. Since then, more than 400 participants have completed the program.

“That’s kept Kansas out front in providing leaders who not only influence our communities and our state, but the agriculture industry both here in the U.S. and abroad,” Zimmerman said.

Applications are due April 15, 2019. The online application and program participation details can be found at http://karlprogram.com/class-xv-application-materials/.

Finalists will be interviewed by a selection committee in May. The official class roster will be announced in June. Successful candidates demonstrate leadership potential and willingness to serve in decision-making roles upon completing the program.

The KARL program is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to developing leaders for agriculture, business and rural communities, and is a member of the International Association of Programs for Agricultural Leaders (IAPAL), represented in 40 states and multiple countries. For more information about KARL, call Jill Zimmerman at 785-532- 6300, email karl@ksu.edu or visit the KARL website at http://karlprogram.com.

Kansas regulators have slashed a fine against a northwest Kansas swine operation for ignoring orders to halt the construction of unauthorized facilities capable of holdings tens of thousands of hogs.

The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment slashed to $34,000 the fine levied for building confined feeding facilities in Norton and Phillips counties without permits and for ignoring the state’s cease-and-desist orders to halt the work. A pair of consent agreements covering Rolling Hills Pork and Old Stone Pork dismissed a majority of the original $147,000 fine imposed in January, the department said.

KDHE can demand payment of up to $25,000 from Rolling Hills Pork and as much as $21,000 from Old Stone Pork if the businesses again violate state law before October 2020.