Kansas Farmers Union will hold its annual convention at the Ramada Hotel, in downtown Topeka, on January 3-4, 2014. "This is going to be a great convention," KFU President Donn Teske said. "It will be, above all, fun, interesting, and educational."
During the two-day convention, speakers will discuss everything from rural healthcare, the 2013 Farm Bill, local food, global agriculture, climate change, and many other issues facing rural Kansas. The public is invited to attend.
During the Friday noon luncheon, Nick Levendofsky, KFU projects and communications coordinator, will give a presentation about his trip to Germany this past summer as a participant in the 26th Annual Leadership Workshop for Rural Youth. Following lunch, Linda Sheppard, special counsel and director of Health Policy for the Kansas Insurance Department, will speak on the Affordable Care Act and how it affects rural Kansans. Later in the day, KFU members will be treated to a tour of the newly renovated Kansas Capitol building.
During the Friday evening banquet, Tom Giessel, National Farmers Union honorary historian, will share history on the organization. K-State students Rebecca Hall and Billie Chesney will give a presentation on their research into Kansas' cooperative history and the role Farmers Union has played in cooperative development.
Following the banquet, an entertaining evening is planned with Dave Lewis' "Game Show Road Show." A live and silent auction will also be held with all proceeds going to the Kansas Farmers Union Foundation to assist with education programs within the organization.
Saturday presentations to address local, global topics
On Saturday morning, National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson will discuss the Farm Bill, Country-of-Origin Labeling, and other national issues important to farmers and ranchers. Kansas Farm Service Agency director Adrian Polansky will also give an update on FSA happenings across the state.
Eileen Horn, sustainability coordinator for Douglas County and the City of Lawrence will discuss opportunities in local foods. Dr. W. Chris King, Brigadier General (R), U.S. Army Dean of Academics, Command and General Staff College will discuss world instability in the face of climate change. Dr. King has authored two books and 13 book chapters. His most recent manuscript is "Understanding International Environmental Security: A Strategic Military Perspective."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
During the noon banquet, USDA GIPSA director Larry Mitchell will discuss his involvement in the American Agriculture Movement in the late 1970s. Before serving at USDA in the 1990s, Mitchell was director of Federal and State Relation for the movement, Editor of the AAM Reporter, and independent consultant and writer on farm issues.
After lunch, Sen. Marci Francisco, Lawrence, will give an update on the upcoming legislative session, and GIPSA director Mitchell will address the afternoon session on how USDA and GIPSA can assist small livestock producers. John and Karen Pendleton of Pendleton's Country Market near Lawrence will discuss their operation and the next generation of family farming. They currently grow a variety of vegetables, bedding plants, and cut flowers, plus a CSA program with about 100 subscribers.
Saturday evening, an Italian buffet will be served at 5:00 P.M., followed by a 6:00 p.m. screening of the film "The Farm Crisis" in the Grand Ballroom of the Ramada. The public is invited to attend. Buffet cost is $25 and the meal is optional.
After the film, a panel discussion moderated by KFU president Donn Teske will feature NFU president and former North Dakota farm crisis director Roger Johnson, agricultural mediator and early farmer advocate Linda Hessman, Kansas Rural Family Helpline director Charlie Griffin, Kansas Agriculture Mediation Service director Forrest Buhler, and former Kansas Rural Center farm financial counselor and Nemaha County farmer Ed Reznicek.
Stick around for Beginning Farmers Coalition meeting
Sunday, January 5 features the second annual meeting of the Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition (KBFC) beginning with Linda Hessman, KFU board member and Jessie Deelo, farmer resource specialist Farm Aid who will discuss the importance of agricultural advocacy.
Before lunch, John and Karen Pendleton will talk about their farm and their outlook for family agriculture in Kansas. That afternoon, representatives of the Kansas Department of Agriculture's "From the Land of Kansas" program will discuss the program and Luke Mahin, co-director of Republic County Economic Development will discuss social media and online marketing and how they can benefit direct market producers. The rest of the day will be devoted to open discussion among KBFC members and attendees.
Kansas Farmers Union members and the public are invited to attend the annual convention. For more information, and detailed schedule, and to register online, visit the KFU website or call 620-241-6630.