Tag Archives: Kansas Farm Bureau

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture has donated $10,000 to assist Nebraska farmers and ranchers recover from record flooding affecting the state. The money will go to Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Disaster Relief Fund. The fund will distribute 100 percent of its proceeds to Nebraska farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

“Our hearts go out to the individuals and families affected by the catastrophic flooding in Nebraska,” Rich Felts, president of Kansas Farm Bureau says. “Our foundation board voted unanimously to assist our neighbors in their recovery process. We feel privileged to play a small role in restoring the livelihoods of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.”

(Video) ‘BOMB CYCLONE’; Damage and Looses from in Nebraska More than $1 Billion

A two-day “bomb cyclone” dumped snow and rain across frozen ground across the Plains in early March. Some Nebraska communities received nearly 18 inches of snow, while others recorded nearly four inches of rain. That moisture caused runoff that swelled rivers and streams to record levels.

Kansas Farm Bureau turns 100 this year, and 100 has never looked so good. A lot has happened in the century KFB has been around. We have seen agriculture transition from horse-drawn equipment to modern tractors and combines that virtually drive themselves. We have gone from being an agrarian society to one where less than 2 percent of the population is involved in production agriculture. All of this is mind boggling, and I am sure beyond the imagination of the farmers and ranchers who laid the foundation of our organization.

I often try to put myself in the boots of a founding member. What was their mindset? What did they hope to accomplish?  What was their vision for the fledgling farm organization? Kansas Farm Bureau was started to address concerns about commodity prices, new technology and transportation. Issues that are still at the heart of many of our discussions today.

I am sure the founding members of Kansas Farm Bureau would never have imagined their start-up would grow to become the biggest and most influential general agriculture organization in Kansas. One that has a strong voice in making the lives of its members better through legislation in Topeka and Washington, D.C. I doubt if their vision saw KFB becoming the leader in agriculture education and advocacy, and the amazing things its members do to promote the food and fiber we all produce.

I would imagine they saw the need to bring farmers and ranchers together to have a combined voice — one that could speak for all producers. They saw the need for the agriculture community to band together because as a group we are stronger than we are individually. Kansas Farm Bureau was created to improve the lives of the men and women who poured their blood, sweat and tears into the land they were entrusted with.

Over the years Kansas Farm Bureau has met the challenges, changing with the times and going the extra mile to meet the needs of its members. KFB has been there for the farmers and ranchers through droughts, floods, fires and other disasters. It has championed the cause of agriculture in the legislature making sure the voices of its members were heard.

The issues may have changed. I doubt if the founders could have envisioned defending new technology to the public or fighting for better health care coverage in rural Kansas, but the heart of Kansas Farm Bureau has remained true over the past century.

One hundred years is truly a milestone, but it is not the final one. Over this centennial year we will look at the future of Kansas Farm Bureau, and I hope we will approach it with the same vision, hope and passion that the founding members had when they came together. It is important we celebrate our past, but it is more important that we have a vision for the future.

It is my hope that when Kansas Farm Bureau celebrates its 200th birthday in 2119 the members will look back on us with the same admiration and appreciation that we have for the charter members. Yes, we have accomplished so much in 100 years, but rest assured there is much more work to be done in the next 100. It’s time to cut the cake and celebrate because 100 looks pretty good. Here is to 200 looking even better.

Like track runners, farmers and ranchers in Kansas face several hurdles. Whether it’s unpredictable and unfavorable weather, a volatile market that causes commodity prices to fluctuate or correcting misconceptions about agriculture, farmers hurdle many things.

Yet, hurdle after hurdle, farmers and ranchers run the race because they love what they do. They chose it. They want their operation to continue so the next generation can carry on the tradition. For this to happen, our food and fiber producers need to stay healthy.

A recent national survey shows 65 percent of farm and ranch families believe access to affordable health care options is the number one threat to the success of their operation. In the past five years, net farm income has declined by nearly 50 percent, while health insurance costs have spiraled upward. In Kansas, Farm Bureau members report health coverage costs as the most significant expense in their family budget, at times representing 30 to 40 percent of annual expenses. That is a hurdle nearly impossible for farmers to overcome.

Sherman County farmer Tim Franklin has felt the struggle of finding workable and affordable health care. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) altered the definition of sole-proprietorship, it resulted in their health coverage carrier canceling their group coverage.

“The logic was that we didn’t qualify for the group plan because we didn’t have employees,” the Goodland farmer says. “My parents are involved in our farm but operate separately and we don’t have nonfamily employees that would qualify us to form a new group.”

The family went to the marketplace for coverage and was hopeful to qualify for subsidies, but never received help. Their health care costs continue to increase while their coverages weaken. Between 2010 and 2018, premiums for individuals increased by 176 percent for ACA plans. The cost to cover a family jumped by 216 percent.

In order to advocate on behalf of farmers like the Franklin family, Kansas Farm Bureau introduced Senate Bill 32, which will authorize it to offer members health care benefit coverage.

This legislation is designed for Kansans who don’t have access to a group insurance plan and make too much to qualify for subsidies under the ACA. Typically, these Kansans are spending a fortune for their own individual coverage or are uninsured. It’s another option provided to cover more lives in Kansas.
Kansas Farm Bureau will offer individually rated plans at a significant savings to similar coverage under the ACA. This new option will allow Kansans to choose health coverage that’s best for them. Some may not receive health benefit coverage, while others may have waiting periods for previous diagnoses. In those cases, plans offered through the ACA are still available to them.

Once members are accepted, and they continue to pay their KFB membership and premiums they will not be denied coverage. The health care benefit coverage plans have no annual or lifetime limits. The benefits may include office visits, hospitalization, preventative care services, emergency room services, maternity care, prescription drug benefits, mental health and substance abuse, and dental and vision coverage. Members can decide what level of coverage they’re comfortable with.

Opponents to the measure, the same large companies that have dictated health policy in Kansas for years don’t like this. They want to maintain the status quo so they can continue to control the marketplace and lock in their profits.  Kansas Farm Bureau believes there is a better way, build on a free market with a goal of serving members.

For Atchison County farmer Mindy Young, affordable health care has meant a smaller farm because her husband has a job in town mainly for its health coverage.

“The big thing holding us back right now is time,” she says. “With his full-time job, he has a hard time finding time to commit to growing the farm.”

Farm and ranch families and small business owners face uncertain economic times, making their ability to purchase health coverage for their families difficult, resulting in more uncovered lives in Kansas and struggling health systems in rural communities. Kansas Farm Bureau’s proposal creates competition and free-market options for health coverage, supports rural hospitals and providers, and keeps families on the farm.

My friend and writing mentor John Schlageck decided to retire. I doubt if retire is quite the right word. If I know John, he will be the farthest thing from retired–he just won’t be coming into Kansas Farm Bureau each morning.

In any case, the idea to fill the hole with guest columnists was hatched and I was asked to help.
I admit it, I struggled to come up with an idea. After all, I write a weekly column and to ask my little-pea-picking brain to come up with two ideas in one week is a lot. Then it dawned on me, the first column should be about John.

It’s an idea he would hate. You see, John would never go for the idea because he reveled in the focus of this column staying on the farmers and ranchers he worked for and not himself.

I also contemplated writing this in the same style John would have and then realized I could not. There truly is only one John Schlageck and try as hard as I might, I could never replicate his style and voice.

His writing has a warmth and depth that I have never found anywhere else. He paints a picture with words like very few can. A picture with depth, color and detail. One that takes you to the very place and time he is describing.

Over the past decades of service to Kansas Farm Bureau, John has explored every corner of our state. He has gone to places like Sin City…I mean Sun City (it’s an inside joke that probably everyone who has ever went to Busters can understand). More importantly he has covered nearly every inch of this state meeting the very men and women he worked for. Getting to know them so he could share their stories in vivid color.

For those of you who have not met my friend, although I know there are not many, the man is even better than his writing. John has one of those personalities that fills the room without taking all the air out of it. Much like his writing, he is always focused on other people rather than himself. That is an exceedingly rare quality and one that should be held in highest regard.

Shortly after I started my column, John gave me one of the best compliments I have ever received. He told me he liked my writing because I wrote from the heart and about things I knew. Those words meant so much to me because I knew that was how he writes. John never really worked a day at Kansas Farm Bureau. He loved what he did too much to have considered it work and all of us in the Farm Bureau family benefited from that dedication.

I also don’t want this to sound like a memorial because it is far from that. It is simply the last sentence in a very good chapter. I know I echo the thoughts of many when I say we wait with anticipation to find out what exactly the next chapter will bring. I don’t know what it will be, but I know it will be good.

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Farm Bureau has given a statewide achievement award to a 28-year-old, first-generation farmer who had a profitable year by diversifying his offerings.

The bureau recognized Scott Thellman, owner of Juniper Hill Farms, LLC, as its Young Farmer and Rancher of the Year, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .

Thellman is unique because he doesn’t fit the mold of the average young farmer working within a multigenerational family farm, said Edie Doane, an official with the Kansas Farm Bureau. It’s challenging for first-generation farmers to enter the industry, Doane said.

“He has clearly done it well and has made a lot of sacrifices with his time,” Doane said. “But he has big goals and dreams and is working at them incrementally.”

Thellman owns 50 acres (20 hectares) near Lawrence where he grows vegetables, half of which are organic. He sells specialty crops, including lettuce, watermelon, pumpkins and winter squash.

He plans to add a greenhouse this year to grow tomatoes.

Thellman said he sells to local grocery stores, restaurants and the Lawrence school district, and ships some of the farm’s vegetables out of state. He has five employees during growing season but that number drops to three over the winter, when they help with ordering seeds and supplies, bookkeeping and marketing.

“I have been learning quickly what works and doesn’t work on the farm,” Thellman said.

Thellman faced a $40,000 loss in May after a hailstorm wiped out his spinach, Swiss chard and bok choy, he said. A drought last summer followed by an early freeze also hurt his winter squash, he said.

But Thellman worked out a deal to broker produce for a few farmers in the area and in Missouri.

“There are challenges you can’t control, and he does a good job finding the best options,” Doane said of Thellman. “That is the common thread with successful young farmers who make the best decisions in the long run.”