Kansas Kontact Volume 45 - Issue Number 2 Kansas Farmers Union 115 E. Marlin, Suite 108 McPherson KS 67460 620-241-6630 kansasfarmersunion.org
Mary Howell membership firstname.lastname@example.org 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 summer’s best local foods... sweet corn! The photo is courtesy of Alice Henneman, University of Nebraska Extension educator and registered dietitian nutritionist. Alice is a talented photographer and has made her work available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license so you can use the photos any way you want. View/download at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ alicehenneman/sets/72157626999833318/ We’ll be digging in to local food and farm food safety during the August 7th Produce Farm Twilight Tour. See Page 5 for details!
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Hi, just a few comments, I don’t want to take up precious space in this Kontact with my ramblings…. Sean did a really good job reviewing our legislative session this year in Topeka. He does a really good job for us. One tidbit of gossip I want to share is that I heard through the grapevine that how the stalemate on budget and taxation issues, that stretched our session out so long, was finally solved by the true leaders in Topeka, the women’s caucus. I heard they kicked the men out and hashed out a workable plan, then told the men to vote for it. Good for them! Sounds a lot like my house. . . Really watch our website as our convention comes together. I’ve turned into an oldfogey and our state conventions have reflected that. I’ve observed that our attendance at state convention has been declining, yet every Beginning farmer event we host has ever larger crowds. This year I’ve appointed a committee of our young leaders to plan and put on our state convention. Their instructions are to plan a convention that they would like to attend and keep me clear out of the planning, nothing’s taboo… They have eagerly taken the task on. So far, we know where and when. Emporia, the first weekend in December. Details are still being filled out but my spies kind of have me excited. I’m confident that it will be fun and educational and I’m really looking forward to it. Heck, for all I know right now it might be held in a bar……. The committee I appointed is Rosanna Bauman, Sarah Green, Nick Levendofsky, and Matt Ubel. Thanks kids…. I’m REALLY excited that Josh Svaty has announced his run for Governor! Josh is a good friend with a really sharp mind and stands for the right things in rural Kansas. He’s young enough and bright enough to do really great things if elected. Kansas Farmers Union doesn’t endorse political candidates, this is one of the few times I regret that. I’ll personally be doing everything I can to support him. Farmers Union Fly-in is September 10th through 13th in DC. This is the time to be putting our team together. It’s a wonderful first-hand opportunity to experience our nations politics in person. If you have an interest in attending holler at me. As I type this our own Senator Moran has the nation focused on him. He has become the key vote in the Senate on the proposed Health Care bill reform. This is huge and shows an independence from Senate leadership that is refreshing. It would be wonderful if he places the needs of Kansas, and especially rural Kansas, before that of partisan politics. He’s becoming a true leader in the Senate with this. Here’s hoping he does the right thing for his constituents. This past week I have been in Jamestown, North Dakota for our summer NFU board meeting. Along with our board meetings we also held our third State-to-State Forum where as many state staff as possible attend to network and learn from each other. This year we were blessed in all three staff attended, Kami, Mary, and Mercedes. It was great for Kami especially because this was her first opportunity, after working for KFU for over a year, to meet and put a face to those she has been working with nationally. It really went well and North Dakota Farmers Union wined and dined us in fine form. I was able to participate in a tour of that agricultural region and it was really interesting to witness the climate changes going on up there. North Dakota has historically had a rainfall in the teens, over the last decade they are averaging rainfall in the mid-thirties. This has dramatically changed the agricultural landscape. Corn and soybeans are common as well as many other crops one wouldn’t think of there. The prairie potholes that are common on the landscape have historically dried up in the summer and could be farmed. Now they hold water year-round and are rapidly increasing in depth. Highways, even the interstate, has had to be raised. Railroad tracks have had to be raised. And their huge 4-wheel drive tractors come from the factory with tow-cables installed… I guess I ended up rambling as much as usual… Sorry.
Join KFU & Friends for Farm Bill Listening Sessions The working of our next farm bill is rapidly coming at us. The last farm bill, although well intended when passed, had its funding cut so much it was pretty much useless as a safety net as we have found out so glaringly as the farm economy has collapsed. We need a new farm bill. We need a new farm bill with teeth that has a strong safety net for times like this. If the tax dollars will not be supplied to have a strong safety net while supplying the abundance of quality, affordable, food that we do, then it might be time to look at supply management again. National Farmers Union states are holding public Farm Bill discussions across the nation. This isn’t intended to preach to America’s producers but rather to listen. To listen to our producers to find out what you most want and need. The first week in August Kansas Farmers Union is going to be hosting four Farm Bill discussions. Staff from our national office, the ones who will be on ground zero as the next farm bill is developed, will be here in person to listen to what you have to say to them. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to come and visit directly with the Farm Bill gladiators face-to-face while enjoying a free meal and socializing with neighbors. This is a rare opportunity for you to visit directly with DC government relations experts as they prepare their strategy to move into the next farm bill debate. All of your time is valuable, but please make the effort to participate in one of our sessions. DC needs to hear directly from the producers, and that means you… RSVP at www.kansasfarmersunion.com/events/ or by contacting Mary Howell: email@example.com or 785-562-8726
August 1st in Douglas County 6:00-9:00 pm: dinner at 6:30 pm, discussion at 7:00 pm Juniper Hill Farms, 1547 N 2000 Road Lawrence, KS 66044 Co-hosted by the Thelman family and DG Co. Farm Bureau.
August 2nd in Jackson County 3:30 pm Prairie Band Casino, 12305 150th Rd, Mayetta, KS 66509 Co-hosted by the Kansas NFO. Attendees are encouraged to stay for a free meal at the org’s convention banquet. Their annual banquets are comfortable and enjoyable.
August 3rd in Cloud County Concordia. Coordinated by Cloud County Farmers Union insurance agent Jeff Kindel. Stay up to date as it’s developed by visiting the KFU website. As with the other sessions, there will be a free meal provided.
August 4th in Pawnee County 6:30 pm Meal included. Knights of Columbus’ Columbus Club, 1216 M Rd, Larned, KS 67550 Coordinated by Pawnee Co. FU president Tom Giessel.
WHAT DOES THE FARM BILL COVER? The 2014 Farm Bill included the following 12 titles: Title 1: Commodities The Commodities Title covers price and income supports for the farmers who raise widely-produced and traded crops, like corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice – as well as dairy and sugar. Title 2: Conservation The Conservation Title covers programs that help farmers implement natural resource conservation efforts on working lands like pasture and cropland, land retirement programs, and easement programs. The title also includes resource conservation requirements for participation in commodity and crop insurance programs and helps institutions and community organizations provide farmers with conservation technical assistance. Title 3: Trade The Trade Title covers food exports and international food aid programs. Title 4: Nutrition The Nutrition Title covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] – also known as food stamps – as well as a variety of smaller nutrition programs to help lowincome Americans afford food for their families. Title 5: Credit The Credit Title covers federal loan programs designed to help farmers access the financial credit (via direct loans as well as loan guarantees and other tools) they need to grow and sustain their farming operations. Title 6: Rural Development The Rural Development Title covers programs that help foster rural economic growth through rural business and community development (including farm businesses), housing, and infrastructure improvement.
Title 7: Research, Extension, and Related Matters The Research Title covers farming and food research, education, and extension programs designed to support innovation, from state university-affiliated research to vital training for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Title 8: Forestry The Forestry Title covers forest-specific conservation, creating incentives and programs that help farmers and rural communities to be stewards of forest resources. Title 9: Energy The Energy Title covers programs that encourage growing and processing crops for biofuel; help farmers, ranchers and business owners install renewable energy systems; and support research related to energy. Title 10: Specialty Crops & Horticulture The term “specialty crops” refers to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and nursery crops, including organic produce. This title covers farmers market and local food programs, funding for research and infrastructure specific to those “specialty crops”, and organic research and certification programs. Title 11: Crop Insurance The Crop Insurance Title provides premium subsidies to farmers and subsidies to the private crop insurance companies who provide federal crop insurance to farmers, as well as providing USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) with the authority to research, develop, and modify a variety of crop- and revenue-based insurance policies. Title 12: Miscellaneous The Miscellaneous Title brings together advocacy and outreach programs for beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers; agricultural labor safety and workforce development; and livestock health. JULY 2017 | Kansas Kontact
We recently lost a long-time active Farmers Union member, John Strunk. He was the president of the Sedgwick County Farmers Union and pretty much told everyone what he thought they needed to hear, and I never really knew for sure what that was. He kept his cards close to the vest. He was one of the Kansas delegates to national convention some years back and his vote likely was the deciding vote on who our next national president was going to be, and until the votes were cast I had no idea which way he was going to vote. We are losing a lot of good Farmers Union members due to age and it’s impossible to feature them all, but John’s son Adam wrote such a touching eulogy to his father in the publication he edits that I would like to share it with you-all. Donn
FINAL GIFT WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED By Adam Strunk When the time came, I thought about my father’s hand on a church pew. I’d wrap my whole fist around his pinky and index finger and squeeze out a rhythm. He’d copy my squeezes back. That’s how a four-year-old passes the time with his dad before Mass, through the 53 Hail Marys and six “Our Fathers” that make up a Holy Rosary. My dad carried a simple faith that brought him to church each Sunday with a bit of common sense and a joke mixed in with the prayers. For many years, we sat in the same spot in church right behind a woman who prayed the Lord’s Prayer like her words would tear down a brick wall. “THY Kingdom come. THY will be done.” Dad and I would start praying like she did in a game of church chicken to see who would smirk first and draw the rebuke from Mom. She’d usually sit between us the next week. Last Tuesday night I prayed the Lord’s Prayer with my father for the final time. He’d been in the hospital again following a massive heart attack. That morning I visited him before work. We talked about politics, like usual, and how the paper was going. He told me I didn’t have to be in the hospital, because we had a paper to get out. I said I’d be back that evening. For once in my father’s life, he didn’t argue. Up in Newton, most know me from the paper as Adam. Others call me Chris for the features and profession I share with a relative and former Newton newspaper man. But at home, I’ve always been and always will be Johnny’s son. I’m proud of that. I have not the skill to relay who he was in a column or do him any sort of justice. Those who knew him knew what kind of man he
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was. To me, he was simply my dad.
I got into the room and found my siblings.
During this last week, I’ve had a number of people expressing sympathy, bearing hams, chicken, and breakfast casserole, tell me they saw a lot of “Johnny” in my columns.
I grabbed his hand. I told him I made it. The minutes that followed were difficult but the most profound of my life.
No one, except my mother, knows how true that statement really is. I wrote so many of my columns for him. And while all of your sentiments mean a lot to me, I’d most look forward to his Thursday e-mail saying something I wrote was either “far fetched” or hit the nail on the head.
He, who spent his life sacrificing to provide for us, pushed through 40 minutes of pulmonary edema to give us one last gift. He waited for us all to be there before dying. Together, we began the Lord’s Prayer and prayed those same words I said with him so many times as a kid.
I learned to argue, to love news, to love politics and to question everyone and everything from my dad—with newspapers spread across the kitchen table.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,
I loved to come home Sunday and give him and Mom the off-the-record story. Then we’d play cards.
When I was young, I remember laying across his back and broad shoulders as we watched M*A*S*H* after he came in from working ground. I remember my father’s arms, roped with muscle. Where I had to grab a wrench he had his fingers. He wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone. He was stubborn will made flesh.
My father was the greatest pitch player I ever knew. He was great not because he was lucky but because he could somehow make his bid even on awful hands. Two Sundays ago, I managed to play him to a tie in pitch. He promised me another game, but he was too tired to play the next week. My father overcame a lot of things in his life: bad crops, bad markets, mean bulls, storms and alcoholism. But lung cancer at 82 is a hard hand to do much with. He ran out of points to catch.
I got to hold his hand as I felt his last hard squeeze. Then he let go.
The man before me had withered into bones. His arms shrunk smaller than my own. He labored for a single breath as his heart began to quit. But his will remained until the end. The man died as he lived: loving, strong and generous. And for that I will love him, and miss him, the most.
I had just finished up at the paper Tuesday when the call from my sister sent me barreling down Broadway in my car, only to be stopped by the train. I pounded the steering wheel and screamed and cursed it as if the words would push it faster. I hit every red light after I got off the highway in Wichita. And I told myself he’d wait. If anyone could wait, it was him.
We stayed a while after, and I wrapped my fingers around his pinky, thinking it wasn’t real, hoping just maybe he’d squeeze back. But I knew that was wrong. He was ready.
I pushed a person aside when my elevator hit the fourth floor of the hospital.
Adam Strunk is the managing editor of Newton Now: http://harveycountynow.com/
In the end, I am glad he could leave. That was his gift. I lost a hell of a reader this week. But my family will always carry with them one hell of a dad.
Bus tour to showcase Wichita-area farms AND food safety management By TOM PARKER
Like most farmers, Tom Brown, co-owner of Meadowlark Farm outside of Wichita, takes a dim view of what he considers unnecessary government regulations meddling in his operation. One such piece of legislation is the Produce Safety Rule—the first mandatory federal standard for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh produce. Published in Nov. 27, 2015, the rule is one of seven that comprise the Food Safety Modernization Act, the most sweeping reform of the nation’s food safety laws in over 70 years. While his farm is largely exempt from the rule because of several factors based on the types of commodities grown, processing activities, average annual produce and food sales, and sales to qualified end users, Brown doesn’t believe that producers like him should be complacent. “Most Kansas horticulture growers are small enough that most won’t be affected, yet,” he said. “For the moment we’re under the radar, but we need to keep this in mind. I anticipate that it will come to us, and we should be prepared.” Londa Vanderwal Nwadike, State Extension Food Safety Specialist for Kansas State University and the University of Missouri, agreed. “We’re assuming that buyer requirements are going to be more restrictive, and buyers might start requiring sellers to be compliant with the rule,” she said. “There could be fewer exemptions in the future, too. We’re trying to encourage farmers to move toward food safety practices and getting into the habit of documentation, because it’s a good business practice and we want to be sure that people do not get sick from eating Kansas produce.”
Extension, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Farmers Union and the Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition. 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. “Each of them are marketing their produce primarily through very different outlets,” she said. “Donna McClish of Common Ground Producers has her mobile farmers market, Leah DannarGarcia of Firefly Farm primarily markets to restaurants, and Tom Brown of Meadowlark Farm is heavily into you-pick plus a little farmers market. Different crop mix, different needs as far as dealing with produce quality and produce safety, and different ways of addressing the needs of the act.” Though admittedly most producers in the state aren’t required to be in full compliance with the rule, producers need to understand how the rule will impact them, Nwadike said. “We understand a lot of people will be exempt, but if anyone ever has an outbreak they’re not exempt anymore,” she said. “The bus tour will provide an overview of the regulations, and half-day training sessions will be available across the state in November.” Full-day training sessions across the state are scheduled for early next year, she added. Producers who attend full-day sessions would be in full compliance with the training requirement of the rule. Produce growers can also contact their local Extension office if they have questions on produce safety. The Local Food Safety Collaborative, a collaborative between the National Farmers Union Foundation and the Food and Drug But navigating the act can be daunting Administration, is also available for training without assistance. To assist producers in and assistance, and is currently conducting understanding how the rule will affect them a survey to better understand the specific as well as providing a basic outline on good needs of small local producers and processors. agricultural practices (GAPS) for post-harvest The survey can be taken online at www. handling, harvesting, washing, storage and localfoodsafety.org. packaging produce for safety and quality, “Food safety is a concern for all producers,” K-State Extension has partnered with the said Mary Howell, education specialist for http://sedgwick.ksu.edu Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Kansas Farmers Union. “Proper training in the Farmers Union and the Kansas Beginning aspects of food safety is critical to the livelihood Farmers Coalition to bring a series of training and success of specialty crop producers. The sessions throughout the state. The first of these sessions will old saying by Benjamin Franklin, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth incorporate information on the FSMA produce safety rule along a pound of cure’ is applicable. It’s easier to do things in a manner with a bus tour showcasing three Wichita-area farms that are that prevents problems rather than to have to find solutions and developing their own food safety management practices. deal with them later.” The Produce Farm Twilight Tour will be held on Monday, August For his part, Brown is doing his best to avoid having to be in full 7, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Registrations are $15 and can be made compliance while simultaneously adapting procedures to align online at http://sedgwick.ksu.edu or by calling 316-660-0100. Meadowlark Farm to the new regulations. It’s a balancing act, but Reservations must be made by Friday, July 28, to reserve a seat on he’s used to such things after years spent working on agriculture the bus and a box lunch. Directions to the departure location will projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Dealing with government be included in the registration. regulations, he suggested, is a lot like dealing with Mother Nature. “We’re going to get wind damage in the peaches, too, so we just Participants will be bused to each location and provided boxed have to swallow it and keep on going,” he said. dinners. Tours include Meadowlark Farm, Firefly Farm and the Pearson Farm/Common Ground Producers and Growers. The For more information call Rebecca McMahon at 316-660-0142 or Produce Farm Twilight Tour is sponsored by K-State Research and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. JULY 2017 | Kansas Kontact 5
Produce Farm Twilight Tour Monday, August 7 4 PM to 8 PM IN WICHITA $15 Register by July 28!
By SEAN GATEWOOD This was a very long session, it tied the record (114 days) the Legislature set in 2015. Clearly, the legislature came in with a very different makeup this year than what it had in the recent past. It was a completely different atmosphere and dynamic due to the large shift to more “moderate” Republicans and Democrats. This led to a series of public standoffs between the Legislature and the Governor. Education, taxes, and Medicaid expansion were the largest issues for the session, and the two branches of government clearly differed on these subjects.
Taxes The Brownback tax “experiment” was brought to an end this year with the passage of a new tax plan over his veto. This tax plan gets rid of the “Glidepath”, a provision in the 2012 tax plan that required the state to ratchet down taxes anytime the state’s revenues exceeded the consumer price index for inflation. This element meant that the state could never make progress on its debts or make investments. It also ended the LLC, LLP, Chapter S, Sole Proprietorship exemption that allowed over 300,000 Kansans not to pay income taxes. Not only did this provision contribute to the budget shortfalls of the state, and was clearly unfair but it also prevented many farmers and small business owners from deducting farm losses on other income and carry losses forward. You will now be able to do that. This new tax plan is retroactive back to January 1st. If you will have a liability then you should contact your tax professional or the Kansas Department of Revenue about your quarterly taxes. Rate Comparison Chart:
Married filing jointly $0-$30,000 $30,000-$60,000 $60,000 and up
2012 3.5% 6.25% 6.45%
2013-2016 2.6% 4.6% 4.6%
2017 3.1% 5.25% 5.7%
As you can see the taxes are still lower than they were before the 2012 tax bill and this may prove to be an issue in years to come as we wait on a school finance formula and there are significant underfunding related issues in a variety of state agencies. In the future I believe there will have to be further tax increases to adequately fund the government. Tobacco tax increases made a strong run this year as did liquor taxes, they may be part of the solution in the future.
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Education formula SB19 ended block grants and reinstated a formula similar to the previous formula. The Governor said in a statement that the Legislature “missed an opportunity on this issue”. But due to the Kansas Supreme Court decision, was forced to address the chronic constitutional underfunding of Kansas K-12 schools. This is a complicated formula so due to the number of provisions in the formula I have elected to highlight a few of the key elements to it. 1. Base state aid per pupil is $4,006 in FY 2018 and $4,128 in FY 2019. This is still far below the FY 2009 level of $4,400. This is the biggest cause for concern among people watching the Supreme Court on this issue. The question of adequacy will certainly be challenged. 2. All day Kindergarten is now being funded. 3. Supplemental Local Option Budget State Aid was returned. This is important because of the stark differences between wealthier districts and poorer districts to give some equity to the system. This was done because of the inequity decision made by the Supreme Court. 4. Low and High enrollment weighting was brought back. Rural schools needed this due to declining enrollment and costs associated with running a rural school are higher and are not as well covered relative to enrollment. 5. Bond and interest aid: districts with less than 260 students must obtain State Board approval for aid for new facilities; state aid is prohibited for extracurricular facilities as defined by the State Board unless for safety or disability access; the State Board may not authorize new bonds statewide in excess of the amount of bonds retired in the previous year; exemptions are districts which have not had a bond issue in the previous 25 years or have not reached the 14 percent cap requiring State Board approval. 6. Expansion of the tax credit scholarship act to individuals and other entities where it had previously been limited to corporations. This program allows individuals, and businesses to lower their state tax liability via a tax credit by donating money to private schools.
Medicaid/KanCare Expansion KanCare Expansion made it far further this year. In years past, the issue had not been heard in committee with the exception of 2014, and then it was only heard in the House committee. This year, the bill was passed by 81/125 in the House and 25/40 in the Senate. Unfortunately, the Governor disagreed with the
Legislature and to overcome the veto a bill needs 84 and 27. I am reasonably certain that a veto could have been overridden in the house but the Senate is a different story. Senators Wagle, Tyson, Peterson, Baumgardner, Alley, and Estes should all be targets for us to flip if this legislation is to be successful. Unfortunately, there are consequences to the Legislature’s inaction on this issue. I am reasonably certain that we will see hospital closures in the coming year. There will also likely be more outreach clinic closures.
Health/Senior Care The 2017 budget restores the $2.1 million cut to the Senior Care Act in 2016. This program, funded primarily with State General Funds, provides supports and services to older adults who need a little help to stay in their homes but aren’t yet Medicaid eligible. The costs associated with helping older adults with household chores, assistance with medications and yard work pays great dividends for them and is far less expensive than institutional care. In 2015 the Governor cut medical provider reimbursement rates by 4% in order to balance the state’s budget. The cut was part of a package of cuts that were needed in order to shore up the state’s budget due to the shortfalls caused by the 2012 tax plan. This cut was particularly devastating because of the loss of the federal matching funds. The cut of $56 million to provider rates actually resulted in cuts totaling $120 million because of the loss of federal funds. The federal government matches the state contributions so the cut that was estimated to cut $56 million actually cut nearly $120 million to providers. The cuts had a significant impact on medical providers around the state, especially rural providers. That cut was restored this year, although it was not done in the best of ways. There was a tax increase called the “privilege fee”. This is a tax on health insurance companies. The Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) that run KanCare were taxed but so were the private insurance companies like Blue Cross were as well. This will be paid by all of us through our insurance rates.
2018 Session Noxious Weeds This issue came up again this year but was quickly put to rest. I think there is serious interest in overspray/drift regulation. Farm Loan Programs Low interest loans could be a piece of the solution to the current farm crisis. The state has had this sort of program in the past and it should look at doing it again. We should consider how to leverage our beginning farmer program and our veterans outreach programs with this. Water Plan Funding
$1.4 Million in funding was put back into the water plan this year but that is not nearly enough to address the clearly unsustainable water situation we have in Kansas. Renewable Energy This legislature seems much more willing to discuss sustainability and I believe that they would be much more willing to look at renewable energy programs than the legislatures have in the immediate past. We should be thinking about programs to promote renewable energy, especially programs that would not cost the state money. I think a sales tax exemption for equipment would be interesting. There could also be low interest loan programs that could assist in this as well and would be low cost to the state. This could also be a piece of water sustainability puzzle too. Telemedicine This issue was briefly heard this year and there is a groundswell of interest in it. There is likely to be an interim committee on the topic and action next year. Everyone agrees that telemedicine is a good thing. The controversy is over mandates and payment. The key questions that need to be resolved are: • Which services should be offered in this form? • Should reimbursement be at the same rate as in-person services? • Should insurance companies be required to cover these services, if so which services and at what rate? KanCare Expansion? KanCare expansion as mentioned above came as close as you can get without success. Clearly, this is a priority and there is interest. The only reason I put a question mark behind this is due to the AHCA at the Federal level. As it stands, one of the nastier provisions (at least for Kansas) is that it prevents Kansas from expanding its Medicaid program. Food Sales Tax This issue seems to come up every year. It is widely popular the issue has been and will continue to be how to pay for it. Final Note on Health Care: The “Repeal and Replace” bill to eliminate the Affordable Care Act is making its way through Congress. Right now it is in the Senate. Senator Pat Roberts has expressed his support for the bill, but Senator Moran has stated that he cannot support the bill as currently written. I think this is an important opportunity for our members to reach out to his office and let him know about our concerns about the bills impact on rural communities. If this bill passes rural hospitals in Kansas will close. The rough math suggests that 100,000 more Kansans will be uninsured. Medicaid will be gutted and that will have drastic impacts on people with disabilities and older Kansans. We encourage members to contact Senator Moran to express your opinion on rural healthcare: 202.224.6521
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bring these stories and information to the halls of Congress, the administration, and across multimedia platforms to raise awareness for the crisis currently confronting farming and rural communities. U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Accord is Shameful After months of deliberation, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement, an accord among 192 nations to combat the potentially devastating impacts of climate change. Under the Paris Agreement, the U.S. pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. Many of the actions that would have helped the U.S. achieve that goal would have stimulated economic growth in rural communities. This prompted NFU to be supportive of the agreement since its ratification in December 2015.
July 2017 The national farm economy is deteriorating, forcing many family farmers and ranchers to make tough financial decisions that will impact their families, communities, and the entire country. In response to these tough conditions, NFU and Farmers Union state divisions have initiated a national campaign to raise awareness for the current farm crisis. Unfortunately, President Trump’s proposed budget, which includes drastic cuts to agricultural and rural programs, would likely exacerbate the situation by weakening the farm safety net. President Trump also disregarded the interest of rural America when choosing to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accord, stripping rural communities of valuable economic opportunities and leaving farming operations vulnerable to the effects of climate change. NFU has been urging the administration not to make the same mistakes when renegotiating NAFTA, and to instead use it as an opportunity to prioritize a fair trade agenda that benefits family farmers and ranchers and the communities in which they reside. Farmers Union Confronts the Farm Crisis Times are tough for American farmers and ranchers. This year, net farm income is forecast to be just half of what it was four years ago, the lowest it has been in well over a decade. This steep decline is not projected to improve any time soon. In order to provide farmers with the resources and support needed to endure these tough economic conditions, NFU and Farmers Union state divisions have initiated a national campaign to raise awareness for the current farm crisis. As part of this effort, NFU launched a new online resource center earlier this week, the Farm Crisis Center (FarmCrisis.NFU.org), to help farmers find the information and services they need to get through financial and personal emergencies. NFU is committed to bringing the issue to the attention of policymakers and the media. Farmers Union state divisions are organizing listening sessions to bring together farmers to discuss the impacts of the depressed farm economy. NFU will 8 Kansas Kontact | JULY 2017
Family farmers and ranchers are already enduring consequences of climate change, and projections indicate these effects will worsen without an immediate and significant reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The President’s move strips rural America of valuable economic opportunities to confront the current farm crisis and stem the exodus of young people from rural communities, and it leaves the U.S. without an effective strategy for climate resilience, potentially exposing family farmers and ranchers to the worst effects of climate change. In April, when the President was still undecided on the issue, NFU President Roger Johnson sent a letter to President Trump urging him to maintain the United States’ commitment under the Paris Agreement. Following the formal announcement of the U.S.’s withdrawal, Johnson released a statement calling the decision “shameful,” citing its failure “to recognize the very real and immediate threats of climate change to family farmers, ranchers, and our nation’s food security.” Moving forward, NFU will seek opportunities to collaborate with nonprofits and private industry to address climate change productively. Decisive action is urgently needed to avoid catastrophic climate impacts on the food system. Trump Initiates NAFTA Renegotiations During his campaign for presidency, Donald Trump often criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a more than two-decade old trade deal between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. His platform included a promise to either renegotiate NAFTA, which he frequently referred to as the “worst trade deal ever,” to better serve the American economy or, if unable to do so, withdraw from the agreement entirely. Since his inauguration, President Trump has wavered between the two options. In April, he was reportedly preparing to scrap the deal, but just hours later announced plans to renegotiate instead. A month later, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress of the administration’s intentions to reopen NAFTA. In particular, Lighthizer emphasized the need to modernize NAFTA so it supports higher-paying jobs in the United States and grows the U.S. economy. Due to trade promotion authority (TPA), or “fast track,” that Congress passed in 2015, the administration must wait until August 16 to begin renegotiations. Over the past several decades, the United States has entered into free trade agreements with 20 countries, maintaining a consistent trade agreement framework that has advanced the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of family farmers,
ranchers, and rural workers. This free trade framework began with the U.S. entering into NAFTA in 1994. The renegotiation provides the administration with a unique opportunity to reset the U.S. trade agenda to prioritize balanced and fair trade, and restore U.S. sovereignty. This includes ensuring Country-of Origin Labeling (COOL), a law favored by 90 percent of U.S. consumers, is allowed to be reinstated. NFU is urging President Trump to negotiate in a manner that preserves and expands American agriculture’s positive trade relationships Proposed Budget Slashes Farm Safety Net and Support for Rural Communities In late May, President Trump issued a detailed fiscal year 2018 federal budget proposal. The $4.1 trillion proposal, subtitled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” increases military, border security, and infrastructure spending by $717 billion while cutting non-defense discretionary spending by $4.3 trillion.
to worsen access to healthcare by cutting Medicaid by $800 billion, a move that would disproportionately impact rural residents who enroll in the program at a higher rate than their urban counterparts. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provides essential environmental services and pesticide approval, would lose 31 percent of its current budget. President Trump’s proposed budget is an assault on the programs and personnel that provide vital services, research, and a safety net to America’s family farmers, rural residents and consumers. It is deeply disappointing that the President would propose such cuts, especially in the midst of a farm crisis that has family farmers and ranchers enduring a drastic, four-year slide in farm prices and a 50 percent drop in net farm income.
The proposal would drastically cut agricultural- and rural-related agencies and programs. Farm Bill programs would be cut by nearly $230 billion, including a $29 billion cut to crop insurance, a $6 billion cut to conservation programs, and a $191 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in addition to $3 billion in cuts to other farm programs. The budget also recommends cutting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) discretionary spending, which funds rural development, food safety, conservation, and research, by $4.7 billion, or 21 percent.
This budget is particularly alarming in light of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s plans to reorganize the USDA, which would eliminate the Rural Development (RD) mission area and undersecretary. NFU joined a coalition of 578 farm and rural organizations, businesses and local governments in sending a letter to Congress pushing back on the administration’s proposed budget and reorganization of the USDA, emphasizing the importance of rural development programs in improving housing, utilities and community facilities, and economic opportunity for rural Americans. However, Secretary Perdue has since named Anne Hazlett as Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, indicating his commitment to follow through on the reorganization.
In addition to cuts to farm and rural programs, the proposal stands
The Washington Corner can also be found at www.nfu.org/corner.
Amidst a Severe Economic Downturn for Farmers, Congress Must Create a Functional,Adequately Funded Farm Safety Net As American family farmers and ranchers navigate the most severe economic downturn since the 1980s farm crisis, the National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors is urging the U.S. Congress to allocate more money to the farm safety net to make it work for family agriculture. Family farmers and ranchers provide an essential service in growing high quality food, fiber, feed and fuel for the country; and agriculture serves as the backbone of America’s rural economy, the board noted in a resolution passed today. However, it continues to be put on the chopping block.
savings, rather than what is needed to make farm programs effective. Agriculture has already contributed $130 billion to budget savings through the 2014 Farm Bill.
Board. “These are the very circumstances that farm programs were created to address. The farm safety net is failing to address these very dire farm economics.”
“The circumstances in farm country threaten the next generation of agriculture,” the NFU Board noted. “Young and beginning farmers who have lower levels of equity are quickly faltering under these economic conditions.”
The Board pointed to the dairy industry, where dairy farmers are suffering greatly and lack a sufficient safety net. Milk prices dropped by one third from 2014 to 2016, and they remain significantly below the cost of production. Cash receipts have dropped 31 percent in the same time period.
“The productivity of America’s family farmers and ranchers provides our country with national security, renewable wealth, and vibrant rural communities,” noted the NFU Board. “The farm bill is to provide the nation with a safe, affordable food system for its citizens. We should increase the dollars in the agricultural budget to make effective farm legislation.”
The board pointed to several indicators of rural economic health that suggest urgent action is needed. Median net farm income is forecast to decline for the fourth consecutive year and expected to be negative, representing a 50 percent decline in four years. Grain commodity prices have dropped by half and are below the cost of production. The 2017 debt-to asset ratio is the worst the agriculture industry has seen in three decades. And farm lending has dropped by 40 percent from just one year ago.
The Board noted that the dialogue around the consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill has once again shifted to budget
“Unfortunately, American family farmers and ranchers are in the midst of a farm crisis and there is no end in sight,” said the NFU
The current dairy farm safety net, the Dairy Margin Protection Program, has failed to provide dairy farmers with meaningful support. “Reform efforts are underway,” the NFU Board said. “However, enactment of a meaningful dairy safety net must include farmer-led supply management to balance production with consumer demand.” “National Farmers Union urges Congress to act quickly to allocate additional resources to the safety net for all of America’s family farms and ranches,” the resolution concluded. JULY 2017 | Kansas Kontact
SAVE THE DATE
2017 Kansas Farmers Union
State Convention DECEMBER 1 - 2 | Emporia
Join KFU for an interactive two-day state convention where we will be discussing connections between our own work and the work of others - and how to bridge divides that we encounter in our lives -- divides between production practices, markets, generations, and opposing viewpoints. Watch the next issue of The Kontact for more information about the agenda, hotels, and invited guests.
NFO-KFU Grain Marketing Agreement Available In the agreement, NFO is responsible for all market development, marketing and selling of the grain, and dealing with buyers and potential buyers, including scheduling deliveries and providing information with respect to the creditworthiness of buyers. NFO will provide management oversight of services with regard to delivery of the grain under the sales agreements, including sales notification to farmers, modifications to the Grain Marketing Agreement, and sales confirmation to buyers. NFO will provide accounting and inventory management services, including invoicing. NFO will make a written detailed statement each month, showing the business done the previous month, and provide those statements to KFU where they will be filed. NFO’s fee for services rendered will be seven (7) cents per bushel of grain sold for KFU members. Two (2) cents per bushel will be collected from the producer when the grain is placed with NFO for sale. KFU will receive one cent for every bushel sold. The remaining six (6) cents will cover NFO’s marketing costs. Proceeds from the sale of grain will be paid directly to the producer by the buyer.
Stay Up To Date with KFU Events, News & Action Alerts
kansasfarmersunion.org 10 Kansas Kontact | JULY 2017
Midwest Regional Agency provides insurance protection to individuals, family farms and business of all sizes. Through our agents we strive to build better communities by protecting where you work, where you live, what you own and the ones you love. It is our individual and organizational goal to provide quality products and the highest level of customer service to not just meet our customer’s expectations, but to exceed them!
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When you are on your farm or in your food facility, do you ever wish you had a resource to help answer all your food safety questions? We want to hear about it! Take this survey to inform our development of food safety compliance materials. Your responses to this survey will help LFSC enhance fundamental food safety knowledge and support local farmers and processors like you to comply with applicable Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations.
www.localfoodsafety.org/survey As part of the Local Food Safety Collaborative, Kansas Farmers Union will be focusing on farm food safety, post-harvest handling, and other FSMA topics. Please email email@example.com to receive updates on workshops, farm tours, and other opportunities available in the coming months.
Telemedicine available for Farmers Union Members The medical world is constantly changing. Technology now plays a big role in the medical domain and as doctors regularly look for better ways to treat people, technology has brought great advances to that field. Thanks to technological advancements such as telemedicine, you can obtain access to medical services or information that might normally be unavailable.
option. Research continues to show that telemedicine saves time, money, and lives.
As a Farmers Union member you can purchase a great telemedicine program at
a deeply discounted rate. You can enroll online at www.careington.com/co/nisi/ or call (877) 376-8958 and just let them know you are a National Farmers Union Member.
Telemedicine has been around for over 40 years and is a rapidly growing field. Getting appointments with primary care doctors and specialists can be very difficult, the waiting list can be long and even getting a referral doesnâ€™t guarantee a quick appointment. Telemedicine can help bring you and the doctor together more efficiently. With the rapidly rising cost of healthcare and the fact that itâ€™s nonexistent in some places, the need for telemedicine continues to grow. Telemedicine may not be the option for everyone, but the pros seem to outweigh the cons. The ability to treat patients from their home, give valuable medical support and information, and provide service to rural areas makes it hard to pass up. Though no service is perfect, telemedicine is a positive and growing medical treatment JULY 2017 | Kansas Kontact
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE
Bring Your Voice to the Capitol!
National Farmers Unionâ€™s WASHINGTON D.C. Fly-In September 10-13
Learn More nfu.org/event/2017flyin/
MCPHERSON, KS PERMIT NO. 346
Kansas Farmers Union PO Box 1064 McPherson KS 67460 Return Service Requested
Fly-In is an important and effective way to influence policy. Members of Congress need to hear directly from our family farmers, ranchers, and rural residents. Members will stop by the office of every member of Congress and hear from USDA, the White House, and Ag Committees. Grassroots efforts at their finest!
Let KFU know of your Interest by 8.1 kansasFarmersUnion.ORG
Produce Farm Twilight Tour Monday, August 7 | 4 PM to 8 PM | IN WICHITA | $15 SEE PAGE 3 FOR TOUR DETAILS
Register by July 28! http://sedgwick.ksu.edu
Attention SPECIALTY CROP Producers KFU will be focusing on farm food safety, postharvest handling and other FSMA topics this year. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updates on workshops, farm tours, and other opportunities available in the coming months.
FARM BILL LISTENING SESSIONS We need YOUR VOICE! AUGUST 1 in Douglas County AUGUST 2 in Jackson County AUGUST 3 IN Cloud County AUGUST 4 IN Pawnee County
Learn more on Page 3 and visit kansasfarmersunion.org SAVE THE DATE
2017 Kansas Farmers Union State Convention DECEMBER 1 - 2 | Emporia
The NFU Beginning Farmer Forum is a community of farmers, ranchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public that share common knowledge and interest in helping beginning farmers and ranchers overcome the challenges to starting and sustaining a farming operation in the U.S.
Stay Up To Date with KFU The Kontact will Now be Mailed three times per year. Look for the The next Issue In October. Our Monthly E-Newsletter keeps you informed of upcoming events and the latest KFU news. Sign-up at kansasfarmersunion.org
The Kansas Kontact is the official publication of the Kansas Farmers Union and is published quarterly and mailed to members.
Published on Jul 16, 2017
The Kansas Kontact is the official publication of the Kansas Farmers Union and is published quarterly and mailed to members.