from January 29


     Members can register here for the KLA Legislative Meeting and Dinner, February 18 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka. The cost for dinner is $30 per person. Because February 18 is Ash Wednesday, members should indicate whether they prefer a beef meal or a Lenten alternative.  
     A complimentary lunch, sponsored by Capital City Bank, will start the day at 11:30 a.m. The member meeting to discuss and take positions on bills under legislative consideration will begin at 1:00 p.m. in Maner Conference Center, which is connected to the hotel. KLA lobbyists will be seeking member input on bills potentially affecting agricultural budget items and exemptions. Bills addressing state water policy also will be among those reviewed and discussed.
     The social for KLA members and legislators will start at 6:00 p.m. Dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m.
     Room reservations must be made at the Capitol Plaza by January 30. Call the hotel at (800) 579-7937. Tell the Capitol Plaza you’re with KLA to receive the $89 room rate. 


from January 28


     Livestock producers eligible for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) or Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) have until January 30 to apply at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. These disaster programs are authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill to cover losses incurred on or after October 1, 2011.
     LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have experienced grazing losses due to drought on privately owned or cash-leased land. Producers must be located in a county affected by a qualifying drought during the normal grazing period.
     LIP compensates eligible producers who can document livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. The program also covers attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law.
     Local FSA county offices can provide information on the types of records producers need to apply for either program. Producers should contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment to review records documenting losses. 


from January 27


     The Kansas Beef Council (KBC) recently was presented a major award for its work with the Greater Kansas City Chef’s Association (GKCCA). KBC Director of Marketing Sharla Huseman (pictured) accepted Purveyor of the Year honors during the chef group’s annual awards dinner January 18 in Kansas City. GKCCA is an affiliate of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
     KBC has been involved in GKCCA for more than 16 years. During that time, checkoff dollars have funded beef education events during which chefs earn continuing education hours. The events have included KBC’s annual Pasture to Plate tour, where chefs, foodservice professionals, chef instructors and students visit a seedstock cattle operation, cow-calf ranch, feedyard and beef processing facility. Most recently, KBC sponsored an education session at the Central Region ACF Conference in St. Louis featuring NCBA Executive Chef Dave Zino’s presentation on new cutting methods that highlight beef’s profit potential on the menu.
     In addition to major events, Huseman has been an active member of GKCCA. She served on the group’s national convention planning committee, volunteered to work at the Best of KC Chefs event and coordinated numerous workshops highlighting beef flavor factors, healthy beef menu options and other pertinent topics.


from January 23


      Standing committees of the Kansas Legislature met last week to learn more about the Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budgets for the 2015 to 2017 fiscal years and to introduce new bills for consideration this session. Many of these bills have yet to be published. Below is a status report on bills of interest to KLA members.
     Mitigation of watershed dams - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing this week on legislation (HB 2061) that would authorize the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s State Conservation Commission to acquire and administer conservation easements necessary for the mitigation of impoundments sponsored by watershed districts. KLA supports HB 2061.
     Multi-year water flex account - Under current law, a water right owner may establish a five-year flex account that allows the pumping of water to exceed the annual authorized use in any one year, as long as the cumulative water use does not exceed the five year allocation. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing this week on SB 36, a bill that would allow a flex account participant to roll over a portion of their unused water into a second flex account when the five-year agreement expires. KLA supports SB 36.
     Stream augmentation - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing this week on a bill to allow the chief engineer of the Division of Water Resources to use augmentation to secure water for an impaired senior water right owner. The legislation (HB 2059) is intended to allow the pumping of groundwater into a stream that provides surface water for downstream water right holders.
     Commercial vehicle regulations - Last year, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill that exempted vehicles with a gross weight rating between 10,000 lbs. and 26,000 lbs. and operated in intrastate commerce, from most state commercial vehicle regulations. This law is scheduled to expire July 1, 2015. KLA provided testimony last week in support of SB 21, a bill to make the exemption permanent. 


from January 23


      Members of the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group, which includes NCBA, have drafted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to record commitment of the organizations involved to pursue proposed changes in the program. Others represented on the working group include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American National CattleWomen, Livestock Marketing Association, Meat Import Council of America, National Livestock Producers Association, National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.
     The proposal would require legislative changes in the 1985 Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order. Within a year of the legislation being signed, a referendum would be conducted on whether to increase the current checkoff by $1.00 per head to a total national rate of $2.00. The second dollar would be available for refund to checkoff payers if requested.
     According to the MOU, USDA would publicize a 30-day period every five years during which checkoff stakeholders could initiate a referendum on the continuation of the program or an increase in the assessment rate. This referendum would be triggered if 10% of those paying the assessment requested a vote on a specific question.
     Assessments would continue to be collected by state beef councils, which would have the ability to retain 50% of the amount.
     The MOU calls for inclusion of national beef industry organizations in the Beef Promotion Operating Committee nomination process. It maintains the current makeup of the Operating Committee with 10 members from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and 10 from the Federation of State Beef Councils, ensuring the continuation of a strong state and national partnership.
     KLA policy supports provisions of the MOU. NCBA members will further discuss the proposal during policy meetings at the Cattle Industry Convention, February 4-7 in San Antonio. 


from January 22


     U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran has been elected to chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Related Agencies. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the budgets of both USDA and FDA.
     In this position, Moran said he will focus on initiatives important to Kansas farmers and ranchers, including investing in ag research and extension, Farm Bill implementation and food safety technology. He believes it also is critical to take a hard look at spending in areas of government that aren’t working and many times are harmful to rural America.
     “Kansas agriculture is in a strong position with Sen. Moran heading the ag appropriations subcommittee and Sen. Roberts chairing the Senate Ag Committee,” said KLA Chief Executive Officer Matt Teagarden. “We are fortunate to have this level of leadership from our U.S. senators.” 


from January 21


     Members of the KLA Cattle Feeders Council (CFC) elected Lee Reeve with Reeve CattleCompany of Garden City as chairman during the KLA Convention in Wichita. Joel Jarnagin with Neosho Valley Feeders at Parsons was elected vice chairman. Completing the seven-member committee are Immediate Past Chairman Grant Morgan, Poky Feeders, Scott City; Jerry Kuckelman, ILS, Great Bend; Michael Archibald, Deseret Cattle Feeders, Satanta; Dave Latta, Pratt Feeders; and Steven Bagley, Sunbelt Feedyard, Hugoton.
     The CFC Executive Committee represents the interests of cattle feeders within KLA. Committee members provide input and direction to the organization to ensure KLA policy includes feeders’ views. The committee also ensures needs of the CFC membership are met.


from January 20


     Chairman John Adams of Plains recently announced final appointments to the KLA Stockgrowers Council Executive Committee for 2015. Adams appointed Brent Bertrand, Wallace; Daniel Mushrush, Strong City; Kerry O'Brien, Hepler; and Kevin Schultz, Haviland; to complete the 11-member executive committee.
     Other members elected at the 2014 KLA Convention were Vice Chair Harry Moser, Wheaton; Guy Bracken, Clearwater; Tyler Breeden, Quinter; Dan Larson, Sharon Springs; and Jessica Weltmer, Smith Center. Phil Perry of Oskaloosa is the immediate past council chair, making him a member of the 2015 KLA Stockgrowers Executive Committee as well.
     The Stockgrowers Council focuses on policy issues and special projects that serve the interests of commercial cow-calf producers, seedstock suppliers, backgrounders, farmer-stockmen, ranchers and landowners across Kansas.


from January 19


     The 2015 Kansas Legislature convened last week with the inauguration of Gov. Sam Brownback and swearing in of the House of Representatives and two state senators who filled mid-term vacancies. From a legislative action perspective, the first week of the session was slow, with various bill introductions and budget briefings.
     A number of water bills were requested by the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA), in addition to a bill that would authorize KDA to acquire and administer conservation easements necessary for the mitigation of watershed structures. This is similar to a KLA-supported bill that failed to achieve passage in the final weeks of the 2014 legislative session.
     Hearings highlighted a nearly $279 million shortfall in the state budget for fiscal year 2015 and a $648 million deficit for fiscal year 2016.
     Gov. Brownback delivered his annual “State of the State” address January 15. The governor announced his budget would continue the “march to zero” on Kansas income taxes. He also advocated for a new school finance formula, a new process for judicial selection and a constitutional amendment to give Kansas instruments of indebtedness first priority. The latter initiative is seen as an attempt to head off future downgrades by credit rating groups.


from January 16


     The 2015 KLA Young Stockmen’s Academy (YSA) class consists of 21 participants from across Kansas. Merck Animal Health is partnering with KLA to host members in their 20s for a series of four seminars throughout the year. The group’s first meeting will be February 17-18 in Topeka.
     YSA members will be exposed to the importance of KLA’s voice in the legislative process, producers’ responsibility as agricultural advocates, the need for progressive livestock operations and how other industry segments, including animal health suppliers and agribusinesses, fit into the food chain. They also will participate in KLA’s policy-making process.
     Members of the 2015 KLA YSA class are as follows: Cory Beachner, Parsons; Dustin Crittenden, Winfield; Grant Gardiner, Ashland; Lindsay Graber, Richmond, MO; Kaleb Horne, Lyons; Calie Kalkowski, Satanta; Matt Knetter, Kansas City; Luke Knight, Lyons; Kristin Loving, Manhattan; Garret Ludwig, Stockton; Jesse Muller, Coffeyville; Michael Petrocci, Hillsboro; Asa Phillips, Hartford; Sam Rempe, Superior, NE; Anthony Ruiz, Minneapolis; John Sachse, Manhattan; Lesley Schmidt, Park City; Tyler Schultz, Haviland; Tanner Stucky, Council Grove; Laurel Wegener, Ellsworth; and Michael Wimer, Minneapolis.


from January 15


     Extreme budget pressure on state lawmakers will make member input essential during the KLA Legislative Meeting and Dinner, February 18 in Topeka. KLA lobbyists will be seeking member analysis of bills potentially affecting agricultural budget items and exemptions. Equally as important will be KLA member interaction with their legislators during the social and dinner that evening at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.
     A complimentary lunch at 11:30 a.m., sponsored by Capital City Bank, will start the day’s activities. Lunch also will take place at the hotel.
     The member meeting to discuss and take positions on bills under legislative consideration will start at 1:00 p.m. in Maner Conference Center, which is connected to the hotel. Wrapping up the schedule will be the social and dinner at 6:00 p.m. for KLA members and legislators. Because February 18 falls on Ash Wednesday, both steak and fish will be offered that evening. Members and legislators should indicate their entrée of choice for the dinner. To register for the meeting and/or dinner, call KLA.
     Room reservations can be made at the Capitol Plaza by calling (800) 579-7937. Be sure to tell the hotel you’re with KLA to get the meeting rate.