Tag Archives: Kansas

A recent fire at a large Kansas beef processor has boosted margins for other processors. The Tyson Foods facility in Holcomb, Kansas, represents about five percent of the U.S. daily slaughter, or roughly 6,000 head of cattle.

The fire has closed the facility indefinitely as Tyson makes repairs. Reuters says the fire spiked margins for packers, such as Tyson, Cargill and JBS USA to $344 per head of cattle slaughtered, up from $153 the week before the fire. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association responded last week sending letters to federal watchdogs and agencies urging them to assist the market and closely monitor sales.

In order to compensate for the loss of capacity at Holcomb, NCBA says major packing plants in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa, would need to slaughter 8.2 percent more cattle per week, or run 3.3 more hours per week. Department of Agriculture undersecretary Greg Ibach says that “as the cattle industry adjusts, USDA stands ready to assist our customers however we can.”

A federal employees union charged Tuesday that recent comments by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirm the Trump administration’s “grand strategy” to cut the federal workforce by relocating agency offices out of Washington.

Mulvaney said last week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to relocate several hundred of jobs from Washington to the Kansas City area is “a wonderful way to streamline government.” Speaking to a group of fellow Republicans in his home state of South Carolina, he said it’s “nearly impossible” to fire federal workers but added that many will not move to “the real part of the country.”

Within days of taking office, President Donald Trump declared a hiring freeze, and within months, Mulvaney, as director of the Office of Management and Budget, outlined a plan for reducing the civilian workforce. But he said in his South Carolina remarks that he’s tried to fire workers and “you can’t do it.”

The USDA said in June it would move most of the employees of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture partly to bring the two agencies closer to farmers and agribusinesses. The Interior Department has offered a similar rationale for breaking up the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters and putting employees in 11 western states.

Mulvaney said “the quiet parts out loud,” said Aaron Weiss, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, a Denver-based nonprofit critical of the Trump administration’s Interior Department. Weiss sees an “intentional brain drain” to “get rid of expertise across the government.”

“This is part of their grand strategy,” said Dave Verardo, president of the American Federation of Government Employees local that represents the USDA workers. “Reduce government so that people can come into power and do whatever they want without any checks and balances.”

Spokesman John Czwartacki defended Mulvaney’s comments Tuesday as “commentary through a political lens at a political event.” He noted that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has said relocating the two agencies’ employees will save money on rent and employee costs, freeing up more money for research.

“If some career bureaucrats would rather quit or retire than move closer to the people they serve, despite knowing that the relocation will allow USDA to spend less money on rent and more on research, then that is indeed a wonderful way to streamline government,” Czwartacki said.

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt described the Bureau of Land Management move as a “realignment” to “better respond to the needs of the American people.”

“Under our proposal, every Western state will gain additional staff resources,” Bernhardt said in a statement Tuesday. “This approach will play an invaluable role in serving the American people more efficiently.”

Officials in Kansas and Missouri and their congressional delegations were delighted with the USDA’s plans, believing the research agencies to be a good fit for the region. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said she understands that USDA employees are hesitant to uproot their families but they will find advantages in the Kansas City area such as “a reasonable cost of living and strong public schools.”

The Economic Research Service examines issues including the rural economy, international trade, food safety and programs that provide food assistance to poor Americans. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides grants for agricultural research. The USDA said nearly 550 of the agencies’ roughly 640 jobs would move by the end of September.

The USDA says it is not cutting research. Deputy Undersecretary Scott Hutchins said the department has an aggressive hiring plan to fill vacancies.

“Universities have contacted us and asked us, ‘We can help support you and so forth,'” he said. “A lot of groups at this point are starting to rally together to see how we can make sure we do this.”

The agency’s own inspector general’s office concluded this week that the USDA may have violated federal law by moving forward on the relocation without advancing funding approval from Congress. The agency disputed that, contending that the department’s internal watchdog was misinterpreting federal law.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat who has criticized the relocation plans, said Tuesday in a statement that Perdue “must halt” them. He also said Mulvaney’s comments signal the Trump administration’s “true intentions.”

“This administration’s continued assault on federal employees is part of a broader pattern to undermine the government agencies that serve the American people every day,” Hoyer said in a statement.

Verardo said at least 55% of the affected USDA workers — some 330 of them — won’t move. And Laura Dodson, an Economic Research Service employee and union steward, said the USDA’s plans force people who spent years studying agricultural economics to decide between pursuing their careers or uprooting their lives to move to a location that may not be final.

“Morale has never been lower,” she said.

Chad Hart, an economics professor and crop-markets specialist at Iowa State University, said he worries about the loss of institutional knowledge. He said the agencies being moved don’t tend to interact with individual farmers so, “it doesn’t matter if they are 10 miles or 1,000 miles from farmers.”

“You’re losing that expertise you can’t just buy back,” he said.

Jim Myers, a professor at Oregon State University who studies vegetable breeding and genetics, said research grants from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture have done “amazing things” to support his research into new varieties of organic vegetables.

“This is a move to cripple an institution that’s vital to the researchers in the U.S. and ultimately U.S. agriculture,” he said. “It just hollows it out and weakens it.”

MANHATTAN, Kan. — A Kansas wheat farmer testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on “Perspectives on Reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act” on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

Brian Linin, a farmer from Goodland and member of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, provided testimony about the importance of the Federal Grain Inspection Service on behalf of wheat farmers.

“The farmer works to provide the highest quality product that feeds the world. FGIS helps ensure that our customers are receiving the exact specifications that they need,” said Linin. “We’ve provided a lot of information on milling quality, the inspection services and our production processes to our buyers giving them more confidence in our high quality product that other countries can’t always ensure.”

The U.S.’s grain inspection system, authorized through the Grain Standards Act, provides certainty to our foreign customers that all U.S. grains and oilseeds have been inspected and certified by an independent agency. This service is a great, unique value to U.S. commodities and is an important enhancement for our products on the competitive world market.

“As a grower of winter wheat, among other crops, I wanted to be with you here to serve as a voice for fellow wheat farmers across the country about the importance of maintaining a smooth export system,” said Linin. “It’s been a very difficult few years for farmers. Having a functioning and respected grain inspection system has enabled the U.S. to be a reliable exporter and facilitate continued demand for our commodities. When we’ve seen disruptions to our grain inspection system in the past it has resulted in billions of dollars of lost value throughout the production chain.”
The Grain Standards Act serves a critical role in exporting grains and oilseeds, including U.S. wheat, of which about 50% is exported each year. U.S. wheat exports increased despite bearish factors such as a strong U.S. dollar, uncertainty about U.S. trade policies, and difficult inland transportation logistics. A properly functioning grain inspection system is critical.

“The grain inspection system is one that is valued by our overseas customers and adds value to our commodities,” Linin reported. “Foreign customers can be assured that an independent agency has certified shipments to meet the grade requirements specified in a contract. This certainty and reliability has helped wheat and other U.S. commodities to grow our export markets and serves as a significant advantage of purchasing U.S. wheat versus wheat from other origins.”

Other testimonies for the committee were provided by Tom Dahl, president of the American Association of Grain Inspection and Weighing Agencies, Bruce Sutherland, member of the board of directors for the National Grain and Feed Association and Nick Friant, chairman of the Grades & Inspections Committee North American Export Grain Association. For the Brian Linin’s full written testimony, please visit kansaswheat.org.

Blew Partnership of Castleton, Kan., has been selected as one of seven regional finalists for the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The award, announced during the 2019 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting July 30, recognizes the operation’s outstanding stewardship and conservation efforts. This year’s regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be announced during the 2020 Annual Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio, Texas, in February.
Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to recognize outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry, ESAP is generously sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, McDonald’s, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.
“America’s cattle producers are the original stewards of the land. They rely on a healthy ecosystem, including land, air and water resources, for their livelihood and they understand better than anyone the benefits of caring for those resources,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “The lands we manage as farmers and ranchers are only entrusted to us for a short time and farmers and ranchers across the nation are committed to passing those resources to the next generation in a manner which ensures their future success. This year’s ESAP nominees Award Program exemplify the greatness of our industry and they share a common the common goal of bettering our industry through outstanding stewardship practices.”
The Blew Partnership has been in the Blew family for five generations. Brothers CJ and Russell run the cow-calf operation, which stretches across 19,000 acres. The Blew family leases about 95 percent of their lands in three counties: Reno, Chase and Barber.
The brothers like the challenge of taking land from a dire state to healthy again. Their Barber County ranch was purchased in 2012, which at that time had between 23 and 40 percent canopy of Eastern Red Cedar.
“At the end of the day we really are in the land rehabilitation business,” said CJ. “We couldn’t have the cows without the land resource. The cows are a tool for us to help improve it.”
The Barber County ranch faced devastation in 2016 when a multi-state wildfire burned through the land. With devastation came blessings; the fire helped restore native grasses, improve soils and accelerate the timetable for reducing Eastern Red Cedar. Streams that had dried up began flowing again. The Blews partnered with the National Resources Conservation Service to add miles of cross fencing to support their intensive rotational grazing plan and install an extensive water distribution system throughout the ranch.
“The water systems have definitely helped us to graze a greater herd size and increase stock density, thereby improving grazing distribution,” said Russell.
“The grass has improved tremendously,” said Dusty Tacha, Rangeland Management Specialist for USDA-NRCS. “A lot of that is due to obtaining an animal forage balance.”
The Blews work with neighbors and are leaders in their prescribed burn associations. They use fire as a natural resource to improve range land and stay on top of the invasive Red Cedar. Controlled burns allow the grasses and stocking density to improve.
“We deal with vast tracts of land in Barber County, burning two and three thousand acres at a time, which necessitates vast equipment and vast personnel,” said Russell. “We can control a 3 to 4,000-acre fire without any issues.”
In Reno County, the Blew Partnership has moved away from grain production and worked with the Cheney Lake Watershed Task Force to fund the conversion of more than 1,500 crop acres back to perennial grasses and cover crops. As commodity prices went down, it prompted an easy transition to a grazing crop harvested by cattle.
The Blews continue to build a family tradition of improving their cattle and land, whether irrigated pasture or native range. The brothers keep a long-term approach when it comes to management because they know the decisions made each morning will affect the longevity of their operation.
“We definitely manage our cow herd and our land resource with the idea that it’s going to the next generation,” said Russell. “Sustainability is a huge part of that. We want to manage for the next 50 years and not the next five months.”

This week is Kansas Farm Bureau’s Centennial Tour. This event will celebrate Kansas agriculture across the state and highlight its diversity and ingenuity. There will be lots of good food, celebration and, most importantly, great fellowship. Kansas Farm Bureau has a lot to celebrate, and it will be a party from one end of this great state to the other.

While we should reflect on our accomplishments and what we have achieved over the last 100 years, this is also the time to look toward the next 100. What will this organization look like in 2119? Who will our members be? What will agriculture look like, and how will we grow our food in the next century? All are questions we should ask but also all are questions I guarantee we do not have the answers to.

In the next couple of months, we will get a report from our Strategic Planning Committee, which was convened to take a stab at what KFB will look like in the future. Committee members represent a cross section of Kansas Farm Bureau and the diversity of agriculture it represents.

In true grassroots, Farm Bureau style, each individual Farm Bureau member had the opportunity to provide input about the future of our organization and what it should look like. Everything was scrutinized, and every path was explored. No rocks were left unturned. What are we doing right and what could be improved? The committee worked tirelessly, and many hours, much energy and thoughtful contemplation went into the final document.

I cannot wait to see this road map we will be given to start our journey into the next 100 years. More importantly, I am so proud to be part of an organization that has the foresight to plan while celebrating the past. That kind of forward thinking is what has made Farm Bureau the voice of agriculture and a place for everyone involved in the production of food and fiber.

I am sure the next 100 years will bring even more innovation to our industry. I am sure we cannot even begin to imagine what changes will happen. I am also equally sure that Kansas Farm Bureau will be able to adapt, change and continue to be a resource for Kansas farmers and ranchers.

So, this week, lets renew old friendships, celebrate our accomplishments and enjoy the journey of the past 100 years. While we are doing that, we will be looking at the road into the future knowing Kansas Farm Bureau will continue to lead the way and continue to be the most inclusive, general farm organization in Kansas with a place for all producers. Here is to 100 years of accomplishments and to the next 100 years of growth and success.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers will hold its annual membership meeting on August 14, 2019, in conjunction with High Plains Journal’s Sorghum U – Wheat U event.

The annual meeting will begin at 7:00 a.m., in the Fire Club Room at the Kansas Star Event Center, 777 Kansas Star Drive in Mulvane.

Grower members will discuss and debate the policies of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and will vote on renewing KAWG Resolutions. They will hear an update on KAWG activities and priorities, as well as the announcement of a membership referral program that can earn members some unique wheat gear while building grassroots support for the issues facing wheat farmers in Topeka and Capitol Hill.

At the conclusion of the KAWG annual meeting, members are invited to join other wheat and grain sorghum producers to stay for the Sorghum U – Wheat U educational event, which features breakout sessions on grain sorghum and wheat. There is no charge to attend the Sorghum U – Wheat U event, and lunch will be provided.

Wheat and sorghum producers can take home real-world, practical solutions that can have a definite influence on their bottom line. With educational sessions targeted to wheat growers, sorghum growers and sessions for both, producers can develop a strategy that will allow them to take control and plan for profit. This event will also have CEU credits offered. Having multiple sessions and speakers filled with knowledge, this event will benefit any farmer that attends.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with the program starting at 9 a.m. During the welcome session, attendees will hear from a panel of farmers as well as the Kansas Wheat and Kansas Grain Sorghum organizations.

During Breakout Blocks 1 and 2, farmers will be able to choose from the following four sessions: Making “Cents” of Blockchain Technology, Make Cropping Systems Work For You, Lessons in Wheat Production and Risk Management for Sorghum Producers. These blocks will repeat, so farmers will have the opportunity to attend two of the four. Kansas State University Wheat and Forages Extension Specialist Romulo Lollato will present the session on wheat production.

Over lunch, Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist with INTL FCStone, will present the keynote address on “Market Intelligence for the Future.” Market intelligence helps producers plan ahead for influences on grain markets that are out of a producer’s control. Suderman has years of experience working with farmers and helping them understand the markets. From late planting problems this spring to trade wars to African Swine Fever, Suderman will give producers an outlook that will help them make sound decisions. Following Suderman’s presentation, John Lawrence will be speaking on “IntelliFarms: Grow with a Purpose.”

Topics for Breakout Blocks 3 and 4 include Planning with Your Lender, Making the Grain Chain Work for You, Risk Management for Wheat Producers and Growing Forage Sorghum for Profit. The event will wrap up at 3:00 p.m., following the IntelliFarms $20,000 Giveaway.

For more information on the speakers and topics and to register for this free event, go to wheatu.com.

The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers will hold its annual membership meeting on August 14, 2019, in conjunction with High Plains Journal’s Sorghum U – Wheat U event.

The annual meeting will begin at 7:00 a.m., in the Fire Club Room at the Kansas Star Event Center, 777 Kansas Star Drive in Mulvane.

 

Grower members will discuss and debate the policies of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and will vote on renewing KAWG Resolutions. They will hear an update on KAWG activities and priorities, as well as the announcement of a membership referral program that can earn members some unique wheat gear while building grassroots support for the issues facing wheat farmers in Topeka and Capitol Hill.

 

At the conclusion of the KAWG annual meeting, members are invited to join other wheat and grain sorghum producers to stay for the Sorghum U – Wheat U educational event, which features breakout sessions on grain sorghum and wheat. There is no charge to attend the Sorghum U – Wheat U event, and lunch will be provided.

 

Wheat and sorghum producers can take home real-world, practical solutions that can have a definite influence on their bottom line. With educational sessions targeted to wheat growers, sorghum growers and sessions for both, producers can develop a strategy that will allow them to take control and plan for profit. This event will also have CEU credits offered. Having multiple sessions and speakers filled with knowledge, this event will benefit any farmer that attends.

 

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with the program starting at 9 a.m. During the welcome session, attendees will hear from a panel of farmers as well as the Kansas Wheat and Kansas Grain Sorghum organizations.

 

During Breakout Blocks 1 and 2, farmers will be able to choose from the following four sessions: Making “Cents” of Blockchain Technology, Make Cropping Systems Work For You, Lessons in Wheat Production and Risk Management for Sorghum Producers. These blocks will repeat, so farmers will have the opportunity to attend two of the four. Kansas State University Wheat and Forages Extension Specialist Romulo Lollato will present the session on wheat production.

 

Over lunch, Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist with INTL FCStone, will present the keynote address on “Market Intelligence for the Future.” Market intelligence helps producers plan ahead for influences on grain markets that are out of a producer’s control. Suderman has years of experience working with farmers and helping them understand the markets. From late planting problems this spring to trade wars to African Swine Fever, Suderman will give producers an outlook that will help them make sound decisions. Following Suderman’s presentation, John Lawrence will be speaking on “IntelliFarms: Grow with a Purpose.”

 

Topics for Breakout Blocks 3 and 4 include Planning with Your Lender, Making the Grain Chain Work for You, Risk Management for Wheat Producers and Growing Forage Sorghum for Profit. The event will wrap up at 3:00 p.m., following the IntelliFarms $20,000 Giveaway.

 

For more information on the speakers and topics and to register for this free event, go to wheatu.com.

This is day 16, the final day of the 2019 Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

Wheat harvest has essentially wrapped up in Kansas with last week’s hot dry weather.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Kansas winter wheat harvest is 96 percent complete, near 100 last year and 98 for the five-year average.

Erik Lange, Senior Vice President and chief operating officer, MKC, says their more than 40 locations across Kansas have taken in about two-thirds of their 5-year average on bushels, due to reduced acres because of the wet conditions last fall. MKC is located in 24 counties across Kansas, from Seward County in the southwest to Sumner County in south central to Pottawatomie County in the north east.

Lange reported that overall, harvest was about 2 to 2 ½ weeks later than normal statewide but a little less delayed in the west. He said yields varied widely across the state.

In south central counties, yields were below average, and in central counties, yields were quite a bit lower than normal, due to rain. Further to the north and east, there were good yields in areas, but not in the low lying areas. He said that in southwest Kansas, this year’s harvest was some of the best wheat in years.

Test weights in the trade territory ranged from average to above average in most locations. There were a few places in central and south central Kansas that got some rains on mature wheat where test weights were slightly below average.

Proteins also varied by location. In the west, Lange reported that proteins were well below average, ranging from 10 ½ to 11 ½ percent, with spotted areas of 12s. In central and south central Kansas, proteins ranged from 10 ½ to 12 percent, which is above a normal average of 10 ½ to 11 percent.

Lange reported that most of harvest is wrapped up, but they are still waiting on mudholes. He said, “Spring was a battle. We appreciate the rain, but timing could have been better.”

He said acres that were planted late were not as good as the early planted. He predicts that acres may go up slightly in MKC’s trade territory this fall, but he is skeptical on how many acres that is, saying “If corn and beans come off in a timely manner, there may be some more wheat planted this fall. Weather played such a factor in acreage this year.”

Eric Sperber, GM/CEO at Cornerstone Ag, in Colby, said this was “one of the quickest harvests we’ve had in a long time,” reporting that they took in 95% of their receipts between July 10-19.

Sperber said this year’s harvest was about 1 ½ to 2 weeks late. They took their first load of wheat on July 3; their previous latest start date was July 1.

He said that yields were excellent in northwest Kansas, with customers calling it their “best crop ever” and a “once in a lifetime crop.” Test weights were also very good, averaging 61.5 to 62 pounds per bushel. He reports that the proteins were the lowest average he has seen in his 15 years with Cornerstone, averaging 10.7 percent.

Sperber said they took in more hard white wheat this year than in the previous three years combined. He said the majority of the hard white wheat was the Kansas Wheat Alliance variety Joe, and that farmers were pleased with Joe. Some farmers reported that they planted Joe last fall because of concerns about wheat streak mosaic virus and its resistance to the disease.

Acres in the area were largely unchanged from the past couple years, but still some of the lowest acres in recent history. Sperber reports that they took in about 125 percent of normal receipts, due to the excellent yields.

“It was an excellent harvest,” he said. “It was about the fifth best total receipts in the 15 years I’ve been here, on some of the lowest acres.”

The 2019 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest19.

Governor Laura Kelly appointed Earl Lewis as Director of the Kansas Water Office.

“Earl has proven to be a skilled and knowledgeable leader when it comes to water conservation and other important issues related to this precious resource,” Kelly said.

Lewis joined the Kansas Water Office in 1999 working first with reservoir operations and analysis before serving as the agency’s chief technical staff and overseeing agency operations. Before joining the Kansas Water Office, he worked for seven years in the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources working on water use, water right compliance, water conservation, and interstate litigation.

“I’m honored the Governor has selected me for this position and am excited to join the Kelly administration,” Lewis said. “I look forward to working with the Governor and stakeholders across Kansas to improve our water resources.”

Lewis is a lifelong Kansan and was raised on a farm in Osage County. His family raised row crops, cattle, and ran a custom hay business. He attended both Emporia State University and the University of Kansas, graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1992.  He also holds a professional engineering license in Kansas.

Lewis’ appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

This is day 15 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

Fields of wheat that are not yet harvested are fewer and farther between as harvest is wrapping up. Most farmers will be done by this weekend or the beginning of next week.

Roger Snodgrass, of McDougal-Sager & Snodgrass Grain Inc., in Rawlins County, reports that they are about 80% done with this year’s wheat harvest. Snodgrass says they missed out on most of the big rains this year and did not get too much hail. While they are seeing lower protein levels, they are also seeing above average yields and good test weights.

“Most of the guys are smiling around here and are happy with the crop that we are seeing,” says Snodgrass.

Theron Haresnape, a farmer near Lebanon in Smith County, says that wheat harvest is finally winding down. He said they didn’t receive any hail in their area, just rain showers.

Haresnape said, “It has been a pretty good year. The biggest rain we had all spring was 2.5 inches.”

With above average yields and protein levels in the area between 11.5 and 12%, Haresnape is pleased with this year’s wheat harvest. Haresnape says if the weather cooperates, they plan to increase acreage in the fall; however, he will still be planting 25-30% less than ‘normal.’

The 2019 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest19.