Kansas farmers gather at Statehouse for agricultural summit
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As the number of farmers to decrease in Kansas and across the country, state legislators and department officials took part in an agricultural summit Monday at the Capitol.
“We’re having farmers from across the state, ranchers, specialty crop-growers, farmers come to the Capitol to actually meet with lawmakers and also members of the Executive branch to talk to them about issues that they’re facing with respect to agriculture,” said Rep. KC Ohaebosim of Wichita.
The event was started to provide an inclusive forum for those who are interested in getting involved in the agricultural industry.
“Black farmers are becoming an integral part of the farm system so as we look at the 2023 farm bill, we need to be able to have all of the black farmers at the table and we need to be able to include urban AG as well as big AG... soybeans, wheat... all of that that’s normally Kansas focused,” said Donna Pearson-McClish, CEO of Common Ground Producers and Growers.
Speakers at the summit offered resources that are available to farmers.
“We have a farm loan program which helps beginning farmers and youth farmers get into agriculture. It helps producers who have a higher level of risk stay in business. We do that with direct loans and we also partner with banks on guaranteed loans,” said Dennis McKinney, executive director of the Kansas Farm Service Agency.
For farmers, gaining access to the capital that is required to maintain and operate a farm can be a major obstacle.
“We saw farmers here asking questions in terms of how they can actually access capital to actually either expand their farming business or actually get their produce from their farms to the markets,” Rep. Ohaebosim said.
Those who participated in the summit say it was just the first step in making farming more equitable.
“We want to help people get into farming and be successful in agriculture in Kansas. That’s our primary goal. We want to do that, we don’t care where you’re from, what walk of life you’re from,” said McKinney.
Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas. According to the Department of Agriculture’s website, it directly contributed $53 billion and more than 135,000 jobs for Kansas in 2022.
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