Kansas Kontact Volume 45 - Issue Number 3 Kansas Farmers Union 115 E. Marlin, Suite 108 McPherson KS 67460 620-241-6630 kansasfarmersunion.org
Mary Howell membership
Kami VanCampen office manager email@example.com Mercedes Taylor-Puckett grants
Donn Teske President firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Hessman Vice President Herb Bartel Treasurer Kami VanCampen Secretary Donn Teske President
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Linda Hessman Vice President
David Heiens Abilene Lavern Potuzak Agenda Matt Ubel Onaga SOUTH DISTRICT
Herb Bartel Hillsboro Rosanna Bauman Garnett Jason Schmidt Newton
On The Cover
This issue’s cover photo features one of everyone’s summer favorites –local peaches! Tom Parker captured this photo of Produce Farm Twilight Tour participant Tee Huang at Meadowlark Farm, a you-pick orchard operated by the Brown family. KFU kicked-off its partnership with NFU’s Local Food Safety Collaborative with this August farm tour. We’re partnering with KSRE and other orgs to educate fruit and vegetable producers on the upcoming implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. See Page 9 for details on the numerous workshops available in both KS and MO!
2 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
The family farmer loses again…the trashing of the Farmer Fair Practice Rule When Secretary of Agriculture Perdue announced that the USDA will move forward with trashing the newly implemented “Farmer Fair Practice Rule” I feel he sent a clear message to America that the USDA is solely on the side of the 4 major chicken giants in America, Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrims, and Sanderson Farms. The Farmer Fair Practice Rule was a very small victory that would have provided the most basic of protections for America’s family farmers. The rule was completed by our own KFU friend, Larry Mitchell, in his former role as Administer of GIPSA under the instructions of Secretary Vilsack. As NFU president Roger Johnson stated: “It is deeply disappointing that USDA did not side with family farmers in the long-contested debate over rules for the Packers and Stockyards Act. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules offered a basic, yet important first step to addressing the unfair practice that family farmers and ranchers face in the extremely consolidated meat packing industries. “The withdrawal of the competitive injury rule is unjustified, given the long-held, plain language interpretation by the Department that growers do not need to prove harm to the entire industry when seeking relief from poultry companies for unfair contract practices. It is particularly egregious given the abuses that poultry growers face in the vertically integrated marketplace. “With this decision, USDA has given the green light to the few multinational meatpackers that dominate the market to discriminate against family farmers. As the administration has signaled its intent to side with the meat and poultry giants, NFU will pursue congressional action that addresses competition issues and protects family farmers and ranchers.” It was reported to me that as the rules were being debated Kansas’s own Senator Pat Roberts was one of the most outspoken critics of the proposed rule constantly harping on the potential litigation costs for the industry.
As an observer stated to me, “If the system is wrong and it takes the courts to set it right, then the costs argument is simply an attempt to keep what is wrong forever wrong.” In 2015, John Oliver, the comedian journalist who hosts Last Week Tonight on HBO aired an episode on the serious problems with contract poultry growing (Our own Congressman Yoder was on his wall of shame). That national program actually brought enough public attention to the issue that we finally started getting some traction to move forward on addressing the problems with contract growing and growers’ rights. As the proposed Tyson chicken complex is debated here in Kansas I feel that every Kansas farmer that is considering signing a contract with Tyson to grow chickens for them should have to mandatorily watch the John Oliver episode; https://youtu.be/ X9wHzt6gBgI On Monday of this week I had the opportunity along with several others to meet with our own Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. One of the questions raised to him was what responsibility and role the state of Kansas, through the Attorney General’s office, had in protecting Kansas farmers rights who might choose to grow chickens for Tyson under contract. My interpretation of his evasive response was that it was very clear to me his office, and thus the state of Kansas, has no interest in protecting the rights of contract growers here in Kansas. Now that the USDA has declared their support for the corporations and in my interpretation the state of Kansas is also supporting the corporations, the potential Kansas contract growers that might supply the Tyson plant are totally on their own. If you are a potential contract grower for Tyson you might keep this in mind… Good luck. On Page 13 is a letter sent to me by the Administrator of GIPSA before Larry Mitchell, J. Dudley Butler. He really lays it on the line…
Farmers Union Family Voices
Next It May Be You: Tyson Poultry Complex in Kansas on Hold but Not Gone By Mary Fund Mary Fund is Executive Director of the Kansas Rural Center, a non-profit research, education and advocacy group supporting a sustainable agriculture and food system. She edits KRC’s quarterly newsletter, Rural Papers, as well as KRC’s Weekly Policy Watch E-Updates during the Kansas legislative session. She is a member of Kansas Farmers Union, Kansas Organic Producers, and chair of the Organic Farming Research Foundation board. She and her husband Ed Reznicek own and operate a certified organic crop and livestock farm in Nemaha County.
On the day after Labor Day (Sept. 5) Tyson Foods Inc. announced its plans to build a $320 million poultry complex near Tonganoxie, KS in Leavenworth County, northeast Kansas. The plant, which would be located adjacent to the highly populated urban area surrounding Kansas City, proposed to process 1.25 million chickens per week, and hire as many as 1600 employees. It would furthermore bring contract poultry production to an area where there was none before. To serve the plant, an estimated 300 to 400 poultry barns would be built within a 40 to 50-mile radius. A feed mill would be built as part of the complex to provide those farmers with feed. Grain farmers in the area would enjoy a small premium to supply the feed mill. Everybody wins, right? Wrong. Within two weeks, the deal was on hold as outraged grassroots citizen opposition gained steam as they learned more about the proposed plant, the way Tyson and other poultry companies do business, and the way it would change their community and the surrounding counties. Unanswered questions about wastewater and other infrastructure demands, impact on water quality, and the collateral damage or demands that would be placed on the community raised red flags. Officials working with Tyson had signed non-disclosure agreements, which meant hardly anyone local knew about the plans in the making. This behind closed doors negotiations with their quality of life spurred even the most conservative residents to protest. While Leavenworth County and area citizens may feel they won the battle, no one should get too comfortable. The plant at Tonganoxie is on hold, but Tyson expressed in its open Letter to Tonganoxie in midSeptember that it is still interested in Leavenworth County and other Kansas communities, as well as other states. On September 29, the Kansas Department of Agriculture announced that at least 32 Kansas communities have expressed interest in hosting the plant. The plant appears to be still in play. But KRC, and others who have been studying the impacts of these plants around the country, cautions communities and counties to learn as much as they can about Tyson and other poultry plants and contract poultry production before they make their decisions. Researchers like Dr. Don Stull, professor Emeritus from the University of Kansas who has studied the poultry industry’s impact on farmers, processing workers, and communities for thirty years, writes about how the broiler belt of the south and southeast has been saturated with chickens. Concerns over the industry’s treatment of growers and workers, and the environmental issues related to manure and dead birds, water contamination and air pollution have steadily
mounted. So poultry companies began moving to new territory— like Nebraska, Iowa – and now Kansas. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for, as you just might get it and more.” The fate of Leavenworth County is not clear. The County Commissioner vote rescinding the industrial bonds to Tyson could also change. The vote to rescind was 2 to 1, with Commissioner Clyde Graeber announcing his decision to retire citing health reasons, leaving a swing vote open. Leavenworth County Republican Party officials will vote on his replacement on October 5. Leavenworth and surrounding county citizens, who felt blind sided by the announcement, deserve credit for their swift and strong reaction. They quickly organized to come out against the plant in numbers not seen in opposition to such plants in other areas of the country. As intended in a democracy, people called their county officials to task for the secrecy of their discussions with Tyson. At a special county commission meeting and other public forums, people voiced concerns about the waste and wastewater from the plant, increased traffic on their roads, what the influx of workers and families would do to the local schools, where would they live, and the pollution potential from the new poultry farms. More than 2000 people filled a city park on Friday evening September 15 at a public forum called by the area’s state legislators. By the end of the evening, after listening to residents voice their concerns and questions, the legislators had changed their neutral stance to opposition. The following Monday, Leavenworth County Commissioners rescinded their earlier resolution authorizing nearly $500 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project in a 2 to 1 vote. Tyson’s open letter to Tonganoxie and the county put the project on hold followed by the next day. News stories out of Nebraska and industry media refer to this as a “mis-step” or “fumble” by Kansas. Their loss is our gain, seemed to be the reaction. But how is asking the right questions about how this impacts your community a mis-step? Questions about the environmental impact, and the influx of people to schools and housing and roads deserve answers, and involvement of the people most impacted. But the questions go far beyond infrastructure and the environment. While it sounds like a case of “Not In My Backyard” sentiment, it is really part of a bigger question about what kind of agriculture and food system we want and need. “Next It Might be You” is a more accurate statement. Continued on Page 14 NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
WILL A TYSON CHICKEN PLANT BE GOOD FOR KANSAS? By DON STULL Don Stull is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kansas and coauthor of Slaughterhouse Blues: The Meat and Poultry Industry of North America. He is member of the Kansas Farmers Union, Vice President of the Organization for Competitive Markets, and on the board of directors of the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. Fueled by steady increases in domestic consumption and exports, poultry companies are increasing production and expanding into new territories. One of those may be Kansas. On September 5, 2017, Tyson Foods announced plans to build a $320 million plant in Tonganoxie, which when completed in 2019 would process 1.25 million chickens a week. Why did Tyson pick Tonganoxie for the first new chicken plant it will build from the ground up since 1996, when it opened its Union City plant in northwest Tennessee? Here is what I think. Tonganoxie is a smalltown, there is plenty of grain and water in the area, environmental and zoning restrictions are limited, and it has easy access to interstate highways—all of which meat and poultry companies look for when they select a new site. But Tonganoxie’s economy is not declining—and, even more unusual, it is close to a metropolitan area and several sizeable cities. Large meat and poultry companies always say they want to hire locals to work in their plants, but they know that given the size of their workforces and high turnover rates, they will soon exhaust local labor pools. You do not need to speak English, have a high school diploma, or previous experience to work on a packinghouse floor. This helps explain why today’s meat and poultry industry relies heavily on immigrants and refugees. Plant managers are usually white males; office staff are often white females. Out on the floor, it is a different story: Mexicans and Guatemalans “pull their count” beside Somalis, Burmese, Marshall Islanders, and other immigrant and native-born workers. But the labor landscape may be changing for meat and poultry processing. The Trump administration wants to severely reduce the numbers of immigrants and refugees admitted to the United States (according to a September 28, 2017, CBS News report, it is capping refugee admissions at 45,000 for
4 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
2018, down from 110,000 in 2017). Companies like Tyson are adapting with greater automation on plant floors, but that can reduce labor needs only so far. At the same time demand for meat and, especially, poultry is rising, which necessitates increased production—and more workers. Tyson says it will employ 1,600 workers to slaughter 1.25 million chickens per week at the Tonganoxie plant. In its handout on frequently asked questions about this project, Tyson stated “there are about 37,000 people looking for jobs in the $10 to $15 per hour range within a 30 minute drive” of Tonganoxie. “We anticipate that many of our Team Members will commute.” Communities are often seduced by meat and poultry companies’ description of their jobs as “good-paying.” Some are. But 90 percent of workers in meat and poultry plants are hourly line workers, whose wages are below or barely above the poverty line. Tyson says “hourly wages will range from $13 to $15 per hour with some skilled labor jobs paying more than $20 per hour.” But it also speaks of people looking for jobs in the $10-$15 hour range. At $10/hour, working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, an hourly employee would gross before taxes and withholding $400 a week, $20,800 a year. This is $3,800 below the federal poverty level for a family of 4 ($24,600). At $13/ hour, the annual gross income would be $27,040--less than $3,000 above the federal poverty level. At $15/hour, annual income would be $31,200, only 127% of the federal poverty level; and at $20/hour, annual gross income is $41,600. That sounds pretty good, but it is only 169% of the poverty line. And remember these are gross wages. Assuming a household size of 4, the children of Tyson workers making $15/an hour or less would be eligible for free school meals ($31,960), and even children of those making $20 would be eligible for reduced-price meals in public schools ($45,510). Most hourly jobs in a meat or poultry plant
don’t pay well. They are also dangerous. The Government Accounting Office found that in 2013, meat and poultry workers suffered the highest incidence of total illness cases of all industries in the United States. The illness rate for meat and poultry workers was 4.4 times that for manufacturing workers overall. And under reporting illness and injury is commonplace in packinghouses. The Tonganoxie plant is projected to slaughter 1.25 million birds a week—65 million a year. For every pound of gain, a chicken produces half a pound of dry waste. This waste, combined with the rice hulls or wood chips used to line the floors of chicken houses, is called litter. Grown to a weight of 6 pounds, 65 million birds would generate 195 million pounds of litter a year. All this waste gets spread on cropland as fertilizer-at four tons per acre, the recommended rate, this litter will fertilize 24,275 acres, or 38 square miles of Kansas every year (640 acres = 1 square mile). Chicken litter is an excellent fertilizer, but if applied at levels above the nutrient absorption rates of soils and crops, runoff and subsequent ground and surface water pollution will occur. Air pollution will also be an issue. In 2007, an Iowa State University study found that two western Kentucky chicken houses emitted over 10 tons of ammonia in one year—levels sufficient to cause respiratory harm. Tyson contracts with some 4,000 of what it calls “independent farmers” to grow chickens in the United States. Poultry companies like to say that they and their growers are financial partners in the poultry industry. Each side does put up about half the capital necessary to support the industry, but the relationship is far from equal. The company owns not only the birds, but the genetic patent on them. It owns the feed, medicine, trucks used to bring feed to the grower and haul his birds to its slaughter facility, and the brand under which they are marketed. Continued on Page 14
Kansas Farmers Union Participates in Senator Moran’s Conservation Tour U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, held his 2017 Conservation Tour to learn more about conservation efforts across the state on Thursday, September 21st. This year’s annual tour, based in the Manhattan area and the Flint Hills, focused on water and soil conservation, grassland prairie preservation, and river sustainability. Sen. Moran has held regular tours across Kansas to observe conservation practices. This year’s tour was the twelfth that Sen. Moran has held, highlighting conservation efforts supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as well as private landowner stewardship practices. Also on the tour with Senator Moran was USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief Leonard Jordan. Senator Moran told his audience, “I appreciate the opportunity Kansas Conservation Tour gives me to hear firsthand from Kansas farmers and ranchers about the challenges they face, hard work they do, and innovative ideas they implement. The future of Kansas agriculture is bright.” Kansas Farmers Union members Donn Teske, Mary Howell, and Jim French participated in the annual tour. Stops on the tour included discussion about conservation practices important to the Kansas agriculture industry, including the
Sustainable Rivers Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), conservation easements, and prescribed burning. The tour started at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan with opening remarks & a tour that looked at the conservation efforts for landscape maintenance and preservation. The group traveled to Tuttle Creek Reservoir to discuss the efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and The Nature Conservancy in Kansas to better understand reservoir management through the Sustainable Rivers Program. The third stop was Dibbon Farms, featuring their sub-surface drip irrigation system to conserve water and increase yields, utilizing cost share funding from the EQIP Program. A classic BBQ lunch was enjoyed by everyone in the hayloft of the barn at the Moyer Ranch, Alma. A discussion followed explaining on the Agriculture Easements utilized for long term preservation of the prairie. Senator Moran and Chief Jordan moderated a discussion and took questions. Following lunch, the tour continued in a pasture on the Moyer Ranch. The last stop of the day at the Downey Ranch focused on LateSeason Burning to preserve the prairie ecosystem and for invasive weed control of sericea lespedeza.
Give the Gift of a KFU Membership THis Holiday Season Kansas Farmers Union has a wonderful collection of longtime members in our family. Here is a question that I ponder frequently. We are the family farm organization that is passionate about keeping families on their farm. We advocate for the policies that our members believe strongly about and want to see continue. Here is what I don’t understand. Why don’t I see members of your family (your kids) on the membership list? Surely, they share the same desires for your farms and rural communities that you do. Very few of them have joined our organization. We are looking for new
members who share our values, are passionate and enthusiastic, to unite with us in our journey to preserve family farming as we know it. We offer many opportunities to become active and participate in our education and tours! Membership is open to everyone. We are here to serve you and fight for the things you believe in and need as farmers and ranchers. Consider giving the gift of a membership to your family and friends! We are including a membership form on Page 15 in this issue for your gift giving convenience. If you or they have questions, please call or e-mail me: 785-5628726 or email@example.com. I am always happy to visit with you! NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
2017 KFU State Convention Set for Dec 1-2 in Emporia By Mary Howell Make plans to attend the Kansas Farmers Union Convention, December 1-2, 2017 at the Best Western, Emporia, KS. Special guests for the two-day event are Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Erika Nelson, Kurt & Andi Dale, and Jason Schmidt. This year’s theme of “Bridges” appears many times as we discuss ways to make connections: finding the perfect fit, bridging the gap between generations, connecting rural to urban, and farmers to consumers. Other topics include: food safety, the new Farm Bill, and reflections of the 1980s farm crisis and similarities of the ag economy currently effecting us today. Friday starts out with 2018 KFU policy drafting. As a grassroots organization, our policy is written and approved by the members of the organization. Friday speaker highlights: Sarah Green sets the stage for the upcoming two days, explaining the thought and planning that went into discussing how we navigate our agricultural challenges. Jason Schmidt, KFU board member from Newton, relates his story of “Finding Your Fit”, the reality of transitioning into the family dairy farming operation. Kurt and Andi Dale tell the story of the intergenerational transfer of Kurt’s family farm and changes they’ve made with value-added by direct marketing directly to the consumer. NFU’s Matt Perdue shares what is happening in D.C. with the Farm Bill, trade, and healthcare. Following dinner, Erika Nelson presents “Make Art, Not War”. Throughout our turbulent history, Kansans have vociferously and voraciously pursued the greater good, working both within the established systems as well as outside
these systems to effect change. With these movements come a rich array of protest art – art made to draw attention to a topic of great concern in hope of eliciting change or expanding the conversation. Erika shares many examples of such art; clever, humorous and even biting. We move to the American Legion Post for Saturday morning’s events. Barbara Patterson, NFU, explains the “Food Safety Modernization Act: A Bridge We Must Cross”. A panel discussion “Bridges to a New Farm Bill” is moderated by Bill Spiegel, editor of High Plains Journal. Panelists are Lisa French, Cheney Lake Watershed Inc.; Jim French, Center for Rural Affairs; Sandy Proctor, KSRE; and Sharon Karr, Kansas Farm Service Agency committee member.
In the convention keynote, “Thoughts and Reflections on the Farm Crisis of the 1980s, and How We Came Through It,” Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker has a conversation with Nick Levendofsky about her time in the Senate, her role during the Farm Crisis of the late 70’s and early 80’s, women in politics, and how things have changed since she left office 20 years ago. Senator Kassebaum Baker represented the State of Kansas in the United States
For complete convention information, including agenda, speaker bios, and online registration, please visit:
Senate from 1978 to 1997. The formal portion of the convention concludes with the noon banquet back at the Best Western Hotel. Saturday afternoon showcases several area farms with a bus tour for beginning farmers and other interested members. The tour highlights three local farms by Madison: Our Seven Acres has a small-scale family vegetable and fruit operation incorporating hoop houses, small livestock, an a CSA. Hear from Mandy about how she connects with consumers, supports her community, and inspires young farmers. Preston Beeman, is a transitioning farmer south of Madison, who rents his farm from his mother and siblings. After joining Gail Fuller on a tour of Gabe Brown’s farm in North Dakota, he discovered cover crops can be profitable when grazed. Preston has changed his farming practices and now plants cover crops on his farm and custom grazes yearlings. Jacob Knobloch is a young farmer who took over his grandpa’s farm in 2005. He did conventional cropping for the first three years, followed by two years of strip till. Jacob took advantage of some cost share opportunities to try no-till and is slowly making a move to drastically reduce commercial inputs. 2017 Kansas Farmers Union Convention offers something for everyone. Plan to join us in Emporia for policy making, business, learning, good home-like cooking and great conversation with friends and a three farm bus tour. We hope to see you at convention. Questions? Contact Mary Howell: 785562-8726 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured speakers at this year’s convention include: Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Jason Schmidt , Erika Nelson, Andi Dale, and Bill Spiegel.
6 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
By Tom Parker
CHASING THE FLAVOR
Produce Farm Twilight Tour highlights specialty crop farms and basics of post-harvest handling
“Peaches,” Tom Brown said. “For five years I asked hundreds and hundreds of people in the Wichita area about what kinds of produce they would pay a premium for, and, I’m serious, I think 99 percent of them said fresh peaches.” That’s because a fresh-picked, straight-off-the-tree peach is a succulent explosion of tangy sweetness that simply cannot be experienced when plucked from grocery store shelves. Like other kinds of vegetables and fruits which have been bred to favor longevity and durability over taste—tomatoes comes to mind— form does not guarantee flavor, and flavor is the ultimate goal for producers like Brown. Meadowlark Farm, which Brown co-owns with his wife, Gina, sprawls across 80 acres near Wichita, with about 20 acres devoted to peaches and 15 acres to apples. The you-pick operation was one of three Wichita-area farms showcased during the Produce Farm Twilight Tour, held on Monday, August 7. Sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition, Kansas Farmers Union and the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the tour also included discussions on the Food Safety Modernization Act and how it will apply toward small-scale producers. The farms were chosen for the varied nature of their business operations and marketing, said Rebecca McMahon, a horticulture agent with Sedgwick County Extension Service. While the Browns operate an expansive agritourism business where customers come to the farm to pick their own peaches and apples, Donna McClish, owner of Common Ground Producers and Growers, takes the opposite approach by delivering fresh organic fruits and vegetables to her clients, most of them senior citizens. Leah DannarGarcia, owner of Firefly Farm, favors a hybrid approach by selling, and delivering, the bulk of her produce to local restaurants while opening the farm for monthly farmers markets with other produce vendors. The latter, she said, is more about building community than about making money. “I’m trying to connect growers who have a similar world view with customers who want locally-grown organic foods,” Dannar-Garcia said. “There’s an incredible demand for ethically and morally grown fruits and vegetables in the local food system, both retail and wholesale. To me, it’s all about the flavor. I’m chasing the flavor, and my goal is to offer a specialty crop in small quantities to people who appreciate flavor.” In the three years Firefly Farm has been in operation, its customer
base has grown from three restaurants to 17. Demand has steadily increased. The heirloom tomato crop—the farm’s specialty— enlarged fivefold last year, and this year the number of tomato varieties doubled. In addition, the farm has greatly diversified its spring, summer and fall crops. Future plans include adding a processing building that will include two commercial coolers and a cool-storage space, as well as a commercial kitchen and rentable venue space, Dannar-Garcia said. As they expand, everything is geared toward compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule, or FSMA. The legislation, whose final rules were published in 2015, is the first mandatory federal standard for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce. Though its regulations are not directly applicable to the smaller scale of many Kansas producers, both Dannar-Garcia and Brown feel that it’s just a matter of time. “We think it will be a few years before it applies to us, but we need to be prepared,” she said. “The policy of our farm has always been ‘the minimum plus one.’ We always want to go beyond the minimum, in all things. We want to be a quality operation and our theory includes doing more than the minimum in all we do.” Brown agreed. “Eventually,” he said, “it will come to us.” The Browns purchased the land in 2010 with the idea of creating a you-pick retail orchard. “Our preference is to have people come out here, hence we have a nice place that’s pleasant and inviting,” Brown said. “We see this as an opportunity to serve customers.” Prior to that, Brown solicited other Kansas growers for advice. While much of it involved the propagation of peaches and apples, others detailed logistical improvements that would not only make the operation more consumer-friendly, but safer as well. “For example, the layout of the driveway should be in the shape of a herringbone so people don’t have to do 14-point backups and run over children,” Brown said. “That’s important, because we want lots of children running around.” Family-friendly amenities include playground equipment, covered picnic tables, well-marked paths leading to the most favorable picking locations and a general store. Customers can walk to picking locations or be ferried in a trailer pulled by a tractor. Though produce safety procedures are adhered to, part of Meadowlark Farm’s emphasis is on consumer education. “We’re a conventional farm and we spray pesticides,” Brown said. “Everything we sell is unprocessed except for our hard cider, which is a different deal with a different regulatory compliance. We tell people that if they want to eat it, they have to wash it. If they don’t wash it, it’s on NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
them. We do wash potatoes, though, because nobody’s going to buy a potato that’s covered with dirt.” During a meal break, Helena Chiebao, Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Dr. Eleni Pliakoni at the KSU Urban Food Production and Postharvest Handling laboratory, spoke about the basics of postharvest handling for small-acreage fruit and vegetable growers. Rebecca McMahon, horticultural agent with KSU Research and Extension in Sedgwick County, and Barbara Patterson, Government Relations Director for the National Farmers Union, spoke about FSMA and upcoming training sessions to help meet compliance. Leah Dannar-Garcia of Firefly Farm. The farm sells, and delivers, the bulk of its produce to local restaurants.
“The reality is that everyone growing produce should be thinking about produce safety, even if they’re not selling it,” McMahon said. “For those of you who do sell produce to other consumers, there are commonsense things that you can and should be doing regardless of food safety regulations.” Contamination can derive from multiple sources, from sick people, from soil through animal waste or water contamination, even from tools and building equipment that can harbor food-borne pathogens. “You don’t want to get paranoid about it, but you should be cognizant of it,” she said.
Tom Brown of Meadowlark Farm, a you-pick operation near Wichita, devotes about 20 acres to peaches.
“Food safety is really important, but it’s also important that you keep growing produce,” Patterson said. “We want to make sure we can meet both of those objectives. Some farmers are going to go out of business because of FSMA, according to the FDA, and we want to avoid that as much as possible. We know a lot of farmers are going to be exempt, but it’s really important that you know what’s expected of you and how to push back against a buyer who asks about FSMA compliance.” The final stop for the evening was Common Ground Producers and Growers. Co-owner Donna McClish greeted the participants with a notice: “This is an organic farm, so there are weeds,” she said. The operation is unique in that it delivers fresh organic produce to senior centers, senior high-rises and mixed multiple high rises with seniors and the disabled. The idea flourished after a coordinator for a senior facility told her that while a supplemental food assistance program provided vouchers to be used at farmers markets, seniors had neither transportation nor local farmers markets, leaving them in a virtual Catch 22. And with fewer and fewer grocery stores in an expanding urban area, many seniors were trapped in a food desert without access to healthy food. By the end of 2014, the year the farm began delivering, they served 11 senior centers and residences. Since then, they’ve grown to 29, and the list of centers asking to be included keeps growing as well.
Donna McClish of Common Ground Producers, which delivers fresh organic produce to 29 senior centers.
“The demand is greater, the quantity is greater,” McClish said. “Fortunately, we have a community of growers who work with us.” Pricing is discounted because they can’t sell at regular farmers market prices. “Ours is not a bottom-line system, ours is a if-you-need-food, we-can-provide-food-for-you system,” she said. “Our motto is, all are fed and no one is hungry. We don’t turn anyone away. We take all forms of payment, but if they don’t have any money, they get fed anyway. We’ll even barter.” The farm has about five acres under cultivation, with pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash, zucchini, collard greens, spinach and purple hull peas—a Southern specialty similar to black-eyed peas. “What is happening just thrills my heart,” McClish said. “Everyone is benefitting on both ends. The growers are making extra income during the growing season, and the seniors are getting fresh produce at a reduced cost.”
Barbara Patterson presents on behalf of National Farmers Union and the Local Food Safety Collaborative.
8 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
Meanwhile, requests to add more senior facilities keep coming in. Common Ground is looking into adding staff and more delivery vans to keep up with demand. “We’re going to be moving things along out here,” she said. “We move the food from the farm to the table.”
NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
Fly-In Elevates farm voices As the 2014 Farm Bill nears expiration in 2018, many farmers and ranchers are concerned with the contents of the next Farm Bill and how long Congress will take to craft it. The importance of access to affordable healthcare, concerns of potential cuts to funds for a strong farm safety net and renewable energy drove over 320 Farmers Union members to Washington D.C. last month to visit all 535 Congressional offices. September’s National Farmers Union Fall Fly-In was attended by nine Kansans ranging from cattle rancher, production farmer, poultry plant owner and diversified farmer, KFU staff, Midwest Regional Agency insurance agents, and a farmers market manager. The wide range of professions displayed the dynamic and diverse nature of the agricultural landscape in Kansas. Donn Teske, KFU president and NFU vice-president, headed the delegation with his decades worth of farming experience and countless miles walked on Capitol Hill. Tom Giessel, Pawnee County Farmers Union president, grows wheat, corn, milo, and alfalfa near Larned. After a long hiatus from attending Fly-In, Giessel felt the upcoming farm bill and current state of market prices necessitated his return to Capitol Hill to share the impacts of legislation on those in the fields. Rosanna Bauman, KFU board member from Anderson County, and her family own the nation’s smallest, USDA-inspected poultry processing plant as well as running a non-GMO grain mill and doing custom harvesting. Bauman, who attended the 2012 Fly-In, came back this year to represent women in agriculture, the importance of diversified farms, and to convey the concerns of beginning farmers in this down farm economy.
By Olivia Taylor-Puckett
enriched her understanding of the importance of the work Farmers Union does at both the state and national level. Olivia Taylor-Puckett, Jefferson County, manages the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, the state’s oldest and largest producer only farmers’ market. Taylor-Puckett also serves on the Douglas County Food Policy Council. She sought to convey the connection between the food and farm aspects of the Farm Bill, in addition to representing specialty crop farmers. The 2017 Fly-In began on Monday with a briefing at the United States Department of Agriculture and featured Hubert Hamer, National Agricultural Statistics Service; Leonard Jordan, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Anne Hazlett, Rural Development; Alana Knudson, Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC. After each of the presenters spoke, Fly-In attendees had the opportunity to step up to a mike and ask questions. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue addressed the Fly-In delegation and spoke of deregulation, “getting government out of the farmer’s way,” and our responsibility as stewards to leave the world a better place than we found it. His schedule did not permit time for questions and answers.
KFU’s delegation included KFU President Donn Teske, Wheaton; Olivia Taylor-Puckett, Lawrence; Pawnee Co President Tom Giessel, Larned; KFU board member Rosanna Bauman, Garnett; MRA agent Stacey Addison and her husband, Michael Howland, Syracuse; KFU Office Manager Kami VanCampen, McPherson; and MRA agent and farmer Jeff Kindel, Concordia. Not pictured: MRA agent Richard Boxum, Downs.
Farmers Union’s long history of grassroots activism was evident during both briefings as members asked difficult questions of the speakers, often suggesting solutions in follow-ups. Important topics covered ranged from supply management, insurance, healthcare, rural broadband expansion, funding SNAP, organic production, student loan forgiveness, and the harsh reality of what farming is like today.
The Midwest Regional Agency was well-represented, sending four Kansas participants and several from Nebraska including Jeff Downing, MRA’s general manager. Kansas agents at FlyIn included Stacey Addison and her husband, Michael Howland, Syracuse; Jeff Kindel, Concordia; and Richard Boxum, Downs. MRA’s delegation also attended meetings at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, discussing the crop insurance program and how it might be improved. Kami VanCampen, KFU office manager, attended her first Fly-In this year. VanCampen’s experience during Fly-In
10 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
Monday afternoon delegates went to the Hill for briefings with the staff of prominent Congressional Agriculture Committee members including staff from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow. Once again there was an opportunity for questions after the staffers explained their congressperson’s approach to the Farm Bill.
KFU members Kami VanCampen, Tom Giessel, Donn Teske, Rosanna Bauman, and Olivia Taylor-Puckett met with Senator Pat Roberts’ staff during Hill visits in September 2017.
The real work began Tuesday with delegates walking the halls of Capitol Hill to meet with their congressional representatives. Kansas began with Rep. Ron Estes’ office and emphasized the importance of, at minimum, maintaining current crop insurance funding levels; Estes dropped in to
thank the group for coming to D.C. and meeting with his staff. Next up was Rep. Roger Marshall. Marshall expressed pride that Kansas is taking advantage of the Renewable Fuel Standard and understanding that affordable healthcare is the number one concern of small business owners. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ office followed where the group met with staff, who indicated that their office had taken quite a few calls concerning the non-renewal of acreage in the CRP program. Jenkins was also able to thank us for making the trip to D.C. and meeting with her staff.
were seeking to reduce regulation as opposed to increasing the budget of the Farm Bill. Unfortunately it seemed that the goal of the upcoming Farm Bill is to maintain current funding levels, as now “is not the time for radical changes” despite the upcoming farm crisis that many farming families are experiencing now. As Fly-In concluded, and delegates from the many states in attendance filtered through the NFU office to write their thank you cards and say goodbye, there was a sense of accomplishment in the air. This year was a particularly important year for a large FlyIn turnout, as legislators tackle healthcare, a strong farm safety net, the upcoming Farm Bill and need input from the people who will be affected by future legislation.
On the schedule for that evening was the NATFARMPAC Reception and Golden Triangle Award presentations. The reception gave delegates an opportunity to share how their congressional meetings went, catch up with It’s easy to look at the current state of affairs, be it old friends and to meet new ones. Thirtyin politics or the farm economy, and feel your voice three congressional members were awarded Honorary NFU Historian Tom Giessel poses isn’t being heard, but we can no longer afford to the Golden Triangle this year, NFU’s highest a question during the briefing at USDA. maintain that outlook. The tradition of Fly-In is but legislative honor and recognition of those who one example of grassroots activism and a means to ensure your voice have demonstrated support for legislation benefiting family farmers is heard. Over 320 members from a variety of farming backgrounds and ranchers. “The Golden Triangle Award recognizes farm and food made sure your voice was heard that week by visiting every single champions in Congress that display outstanding leadership on the congressional office on the Hill. But the work is not done, and has issues that are important to both our industry and our organization. only just begun. Grassroots activism, a core tenant of farmers union We’re appreciative of their insight and devotion to securing the belief, doesn’t just mean flying to D.C.. It encompasses showing nation’s food supply for the good of both American family farmers up to town halls, writing letters and making phone calls to your and consumers,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. representatives, and researching candidates in your local elections; Wednesday morning wrapped up the 2017 Fall Fly-In with Kansas meeting staff from the offices of Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts. During the meeting with Sen. Moran’s staff, Bauman highlighted how her family uses farm mediation programs to be proactive in navigating the current farm economy. Kansas’ last meeting on the Hill was perhaps the most important, as Sen. Roberts is the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman. Sen. Roberts’ staff indicated they felt Farm Bill proceedings were ahead of schedule, and that they
it’s hosting a potluck with your local Farmers Union county chapter, and it’s talking with your neighbors.
Honorary NFU Historian Tom Giessel may have said it best this Fly-In by referring to a quote from a Kansas Farmers Union president in the early 1920s, “There are two things all farmers must do- spend an hour reading and studying everyday, and get together with your neighbors to solve problems, even if it means turning off the threshing machine.”
Kansans Testify on Behalf of Ag Mediation Programs On September 14th, I accompanied Forrest Buhler, of the Kansas Ag Mediation Service, to Hill briefings in Washington DC. The briefings were held on both the House and Senate sides informing and educating Congressional aides about the Ag Mediation program, which is currently active in 41 states. We were two of five representing CAMP (Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs) that addressed the briefings and shared with the attendees how the program works, the need for the program, and the need for adequate and permanent funding for the program, especially in the current environment of drastically increased client loads that have more than tripled. The mediation program has survived through the years since its creation in the 1980s farm crisis, mostly through soft
By Donn Teske
dollars from Congress. The funding has been too sporadic and often when awarded held up in appropriations to the point that staff are often terminated or put on leave. This past year, through efforts greatly aided by the National Farmers Union’s DC staff, the funding was increased from 3.4 million to 3.9 million. The current MINIMUM needs to keep the 41 states serviced is over 5 million. As we work a new Farm Bill it seems logical to have the Ag Mediation program included in the bill as permanent funding. In the whole scale of the federal spending the little crumb that is being asked to serve those in agriculture who are struggling should be doable. As we over the years continue cannibalistic farm programs and marketing practices we as a society owe this small service to those struggling in this system.
Forrest Buhler, KSRE’s Kansas Ag Mediation Service and Donn Teske, NFU V-P and KFU President.
NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
NFU execs listen to local farmers’ Farm Bill concerns
By Mike Gilmore
LARNED -- After a scary start, the wheels have begun to slowly turn on the 2018 Farm Bill. Farmers and their governing agencies are in agreement that the last Farm Bill – though well-intentioned – failed as a producer’s safety net due to drastic funding cuts in a plummeting agricultural economy. President Donald Trump’s first budget request to Congress proposed to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years. The budget, as submitted, was not kind to the nation’s farmers, who despite recognizing many unworkable tenets in the Farm Bill, also depend upon its programs to remain sustainable. The President’s budget trimmed USDA funding on mandatory farm bill programs by $228 billion over the next decade, while slashing the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – which comprises 80 percent of Farm Bill entitlements – by 191 billion, more than 25 percent. The cuts hit crop insurance by $29 billion, conservation programs by $6 billion and $3 billion to other programs necessary to agriculture’s infrastructure. The National Farmers Union -- serving as a key player in Farm Bill development -recoiled at the President’s May budget unveiling, calling it a “slap in the face” to Trump’s rural voting public. Initiating a national campaign to raise awareness, the NFU organized a series of listening sessions among its member states to find out what farmers themselves needed or wanted to see in upcoming legislation. “We want to see what you think about the Farm Bill, other than ‘it doesn’t work,’’ said Donn Teske, NFU vice-president, to a gathering of local farmers Friday evening at the Larned Knights of Columbus. “We’re not wanting to talk to states about what they should be getting; this is the chance for you to tell our staff what you need in the farm bill to survive.” Pawnee County’s Friday meeting capped a week of four NFU listening sessions in the state begun in Lawrence Aug. 1. The other two sessions were in Mayetta and Concordia. “We’ve been getting a lot of good information,” said Teske, a Wheaton farmer who also serves as Kansas Farmers Union president. “So far, the meetings have been very successful.” The Friday event was a collaborative effort between Pawnee County farmer and local Farmer’s Union president Tom Giessel and Tara Haslouer, Larned Farm Bureau agent, with several local sponsors. About 30 local farmers attended to share their views with Teske and Zack Clark, representing the NFU in Washington, D.C. Clark teed up the meeting with a short recap of current legislative moves on the bill, due up for floor debate in 2018. He told concerned farmers not to worry to much about the President’s first budget; that the Farm Bill had many moving parts and talks in committee were just beginning. Photos by Mike Gilmore
“I always tend to freak out about it and have a meltdown, because there are always problems with every President’s budget,” Clark said. “But there is no real reason for
Photo by Mike Gilmore
Top: Local farmer Tom Giessel points to a June 5, 1930 Tiller and Toiler encouraging local farmers to attend local Farm Bill listening sessions. Middle: NFU representative Zack Clark tells local farmers what seems to be in the works during early stages of 2018 Farm Bill discussion happening across the country prior to Congressional committee debate in Washington, D.C.. Bottom: About 30 local farmers gathered at the Larned Knights of Columbus Aug. 4 to provide input on the 2018 Farm Bill.
12 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
you all to get worked up. The President’s budget is always just a wish list and it’s usually dead on arrival in Congress. What matters is, what Congress – the House and the Senate – are doing with their budgets. The House ag committee was given a $10 billion instruction and that means $10 million in cuts. I don’t know where they’re coming from, but most folks think that it’s nutrition (SNAP). The House has already started their field meetings. “The Senate is knee-deep in appointments that will probably last through September, although Sen. Pat Roberts said recently he wanted to get a bill out of committee to the floor in 2017. “You probably won’t see a finished Farm Bill before the first quarter of 2018,” Clark said. “It’s important, though, that we have everything ready and right before then.”
reference prices for wheat, corn, sorghum, soy. Price-loss coverage is where we are spending a lot of time.” Conservation is Title 2. “We want to look at what is an appropriate balance of CRP land,” he said. Clark noted that the acreage cap of 28 million acres in the last bill would likely be increased to the middle 30s, but not the 40 million that has been proposed. Title 11 is crop insurance. “We are looking at the intersection of crop insurance and conservation compliance,” Clark said. There were a lot of demands as relates to those two. On the conservation side, that means doing things as far as risk management and how we can reward them through crop insurance. There has been some talk about a tiered plan. But that’s at a conceptual level right now. If we reward one person, are we punishing another.” Turning the floor over to the table, the group discussed their own situations, which locally included credit programs and overproduction.
While each state has its own policy and own concerns, the NFU is first looking at overall expectations, Clark said. “Everybody expects this Farm Bill to be evolutionary, not revolutionary,” he noted. “We’re being told that this is a flat-funded Farm Bill, that there is not going to be any new money in it. “We see a problem with that. We say, ‘build programs that work.’ Don’t look at the budget and say that this is the best thing we can do. There are certain things in the Farm Bill that have really failed farmers. The last time we negotiated a Farm Bill, prices were fantastic and we thought it would never go back to the way it was. Well, now we are going to negotiate a bill when times are bad.” Of the bill’s 12 titles, Clark said he is especially hearing complaints about Title 1 programs, which cover commodities – pricing and income supports for widely-produced crops. “We want higher
“We keep hearing about over-production and how do we turn the tide of overproduction of family farms,” Giessel noted. “Everybody is saying that farm markets are the key to overproduction. Others say conservation. The Farm Bill has always been about conservation. But I don’t think we’re conserving when we are using excess water, excess fertilizer, excess everything and produce a crop in surplus. “It’s really difficult to talk about, but I think we need some kind of supply management,” said Giessel. “We’ve proven that we can raise piles of grain that we can’t move in a year’s time.” Reprinted with permission from Larned’s Tiller & Toiler, pub. 8.8.2017. Hi, Neighbor Newspapers can be found at www.midksnews.com.
DESERTION AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL
Former GIPSA official speaks out on Packers & Stockyards Act Years after passage of the Sherman Act (1890) and the Clayton Act (1914), the Packers & Stockyards Act (PSA) (1921) was passed to regulate packers and poultry companies and to provide greater protection for farmers and ranchers against unfair, unjustly discriminatory, and deceptive practices as well as undue or unreasonable prejudice and disadvantage. Even the threshold for proof is less, not competitive injury but likelihood of competitive injury. The PSA has always been a “remedial” and “quasi-anti-trust” act. For people to interpret it differently, they have to be “politically motivated”, “philosophically motivated”, “intellectually dishonest” and/or “educated beyond their intelligence”. The bedrock of the PSA is Section 202 entitled “Unlawful practices enumerated”. Two portions of this section help explain some of its remedial purposes. It shall be unlawful for any packer or swine contractor with respect to livestock, meats,
meat food products, or livestock products in unmanufactured form, or for any live poultry dealer with respect to live poultry, to: (a) Engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practice or device; or (b) Make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality in any respect, or subject any particular person or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect;
USDA Secretary Perdue exhibits a complete lack of knowledge of the PSA and related law as well as the conditions in the livestock and poultry industry and rural America. His interpretation of the PSA renders it virtually unenforceable. Example: A packer could defraud a rancher on a shipment of cattle and the rancher could not bring suit in Federal Court to recover his or her money unless he or she could prove some type of harm to the marketplace.
provide guidelines for the industry and protections for farmers and ranchers. These guidelines would protect farmers and ranchers against bad faith, retaliation, denial of due process and fraud. Guidelines reduce litigation they don’t increase it. Additionally, they would allow for administrative actions before USDA administrative judges thereby reducing possible Federal Court litigation. Perdue slanders farmers and ranchers as litigious people that the multi-national corporations must be protected against. Farmers and Ranchers don’t file frivolous lawsuits. They are the least litigious people in this country. Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of America and they paved the way for Trump to be President. They thought he was their President but he and his minions have now sold these very farmers and ranchers down the river. J. Dudley Butler Former Administrator of the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration
The Farmer Fair Practices Proposed Rules NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
Next it may be you: Tyson Poultry Complex in Kansas on Hold but Not Gone The industrial chicken model is the height of the prevalent concentration, vertical integration, and contract branding system that turns farmers into serfs on their own farms and leads to high turnover of workers in an industry not known for taking care of its workers. There is no protection for contract poultry producers who sign on eagerly and often leave the industry broken. Promises of jobs and individual farmer opportunities are seductive to communities, but the track record for workers and farmers –and the headaches given to communities—all too often do not meet the dream. Communities and farmers who think hosting a poultry plant on this
continued from Page 3
scale is a great move for the future, should be sure to learn all they can from other communities and farmers who have already lived the “dream”. KRC has used the following questions since its inception. Of any suggested technology, industry recommendation, or policy question we must ask: Who pays? Who benefits? And what are the untold or uncounted costs? There was no misstep or fumble in Leavenworth County and northeast Kansas – just smart citizens asking the right questions. Building an alternative food and farming system is part of the answer.
Approximately 2000 citizens participated in a town hall with their state representatives to air concerns with the proposed Tonganoxie Tyson poultry plant in Sept. 2017.
WILL A TYSON CHICKEN PLANT BE GOOD FOR KANSAS? The grower owns the farm, the chicken houses, and the considerable debt incurred to finance, maintain, and upgrade them. The grower must provide the labor necessary to raise the birds, pay for water and utilities, and dispose of their manure and any birds that die in his care. Growers are compensated according to what economists call a “tournament pay system.” Tyson sets the base price per pound live weight, then makes adjustments in pay according to performance, judged by feed conversion and death loss. In this tournament, each grower is ranked in an ordinal scale against all others whose birds are slaughtered at the same plant in the same week, and his pay is adjusted accordingly. Growers are compensated only for those birds that reach the processing plant. But growers are not present when the birds are weighed and cannot challenge head counts, weights, death loss, or their ranking within the tournament that determines the amount of payment per pound. Growers have little recourse in disputes with companies, and stories of abuse and intimidation abound. The company can send you sick birds or “short” flocks; it can “short” you on feed or “short weigh” your birds when they are delivered for slaughter; it can keep your birds waiting at the processing plant scales so that they lose weight and you lose money; it can require you to make costly upgrades to your houses; it can mandate resolution of disputes through arbitration and require you to sign away your rights to sue. And if you challenge the company, it can cancel your
14 Kansas Kontact | NOVEMBER 2017
continued from Page 4
contract. In 2001, a study by the National Contract Poultry Growers Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 71 percent of all growers’ whose income came solely from chicken production lived below the federal poverty line. A 2014 USDA report found that in 2011, nearly a fifth of large grower operations (5 or more houses) and nearly a third of smaller ones (1-2 houses) had negative net farm income—more than 20 percent of the smallest poultry farms and almost 10 percent of larger farms failed to cover cash expenses. Northeast Kansas hasn’t been exposed industrial chicken production, and this was probably another reason why Tyson wanted to build its new plant there. At the September 5 press conference announcing the project, Governor Brownback touted “the far-reaching impact of this development [that] will be felt by farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and communities throughout eastern Kansas.” Neither the governor nor Tyson officials were prepared for the groundswell of opposition that quickly emerged to the proposed plant. Rather than naively swallowing Tyson’s rosy projections, several thousand people from northeast Kansas gathered in Tonganoxie’s Chieftain Park on two occasions to vigorously oppose the plant. They were, in fact, quite well informed of the “far-reaching impact” the Tyson plant would have for farmers, ranchers, communities—and the environment-throughout eastern Kansas—and they wanted none of it.
In response to vigorous community opposition, on September 18, the Leavenworth County Commission backed out of a “resolution of intent” to issue $500 million in industrial revenue bonds to Tyson to build its plant on the outskirts of Tonganoxie. The bonds would have made the facility eligible for an 80 percent property tax abatement for 10 years. Without the promise of half a billion dollars in revenue bonds, Tyson put plans to build in Tonganoxie on hold and began considering other locations. As of September 20, 16 Kansas have shown an interest in the plant. Tyson has reportedly narrowed the list to three locales—Concordia in Cloud County, Coffeeville in Montgomery County, and Sedgwick County. I am an enthusiastic meat eater, and the meat I so enjoy must come from somewhere. But the system of chicken production and processing as practiced by Tyson and other major poultry integrators creates serious problems for the environment, as well as for growers, processing workers, and the communities where plants are located. Whether you are considering growing birds for Tyson, or whether you live in an area being considered for the new plant, you should ask Tyson some hard questions—and get some concrete answers. And you should ask state and local officials--and yourselves--whether this is the kind of economic development that will create a better economic, social, and physical environment for the people of Kansas.
NOVEMBER 2017 | Kansas Kontact
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE
National Farmers Union’s 2018 Women’s Conference ‘Women in Leadership’ San Diego, CA | January 14-18, 2018 Learn More
MCPHERSON, KS PERMIT NO. 346
Kansas Farmers Union PO Box 1064 McPherson KS 67460 Return Service Requested
nfu.org/education/womensconference/ Gain a network of female producers you can reach out to throughout the year, as well as important tools helping to set your operation up for a future of success. Conference speakers include: Liz Johnson, Lisa Kivirist, Kriss Marion, Madeline Schultz, Poppy Davis, and Sarah Lloyd
It’s County Meeting TIME! In addition to planning your Thanksgiving Dinner, it’s that time of year where we need to be having county meetings in advance of Convention.
WE challenge you to schedule your meeting before Thanksgiving, if possible!
The long-running $1,000 accidental death membership benefit is no longer offered. Nor is it active for current members.
These are the available dates, if you want us to attend: Nov. 3, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, & 23. Nov. 28 & 29 available as a last resort. to schedule, Contact Mary: 785.562.8726 or email@example.com Scheduled County Meetings:
Tri-county (MS, Nm, & PT): Nov 6, 6pm @Back Roads Republic County: Nov 27, 6pm at Bel-Villa GET THE DETAILS ON PAGE 6!
2017 Kansas Farmers Union State Convention DECEMBER 1 - 2 | Emporia
A unique online, interactive virtual conference focused on beginning farmer and rancher issues, including mentorship, business planning, USDA programs, women and veterans in farming, conservation, and much more! 2017 Dates: December 4-7, 4pm-7pm CST
2018 policy drafting meeting
Nov. 8, 10am at the KFU Office, McPherson Policy committee members are: Ed Reznicek, Tom Giessel, Herb Bartel, Matt Ubel, Donn Teske. Have policy issues you wish addressed? Contact Donn to explain your topic for discussion: 785-770-0336 firstname.lastname@example.org