from March 30
SMOKE MODELING AND FIRE WEATHER AVAILABLE AT WWW.KSFIRE.ORG
As the prescribed burning season gets into full swing, landowners
and managers are encouraged to help spread out the timing of burns by
using web-based tools on www.ksfire.org.
Interactive smoke models on this website are designed to help Flint
Hills ranchers voluntarily mitigate air quality problems in downwind
communities with larger populations. This and other steps included in
the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan are intended to help the ranching
community avoid more strict regulation in the future.
There are two smoke forecast models available. The Cumulative Fire
Impact map shows the predicted potential smoke contributions from each
county to air quality in urban areas. It is based on the assumption that
multiple fires will be occurring simultaneously across the Flint Hills.
The second model shows the direction and extent of the predicted
plume from a single burn. Users select a county where the burn is
located, provide the number of acres to be burned and estimate the fuel
load. An animated display shows movement of the smoke plume over the
next 48 hours.
A discussion of weather conditions also is available. This allows
ranchers to evaluate whether better days for burning lie ahead.
from March 27
KDA ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRITICAL OF EPA PROPOSAL IN CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY
Applying a blanket definition of tributary in
Kansas, as proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will
result in a nearly 460% increase in the number of stream miles subject
to provisions of the Clean Water Act. That was a point of emphasis
expressed by Kansas Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Susan Metzger
during a hearing last week in the U.S. Senate Ag Committee.
Metzger told committee members, led by Chairman Pat Roberts of
Kansas, EPA’s one-size-fits-all definition is not appropriate given the
scarcity of flow in Kansas and the inherent variability of those streams
to impact downstream waters. She noted the proposed waters of the U.S.
rule will require additional expenditures at the state level and will
provide only marginal environmental benefit.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture submitted testimony
significantly opposing the proposed rule during last year’s formal
comment period. The agency characterized the rule as federal government
overreach into the state’s jurisdiction over intrastate waters.
from March 26
WATER PROPOSALS AMONG THOSE LEGISLATORS ARE CONSIDERING
While taxes are dominating discussion at the state Capitol, there
are other issues affecting agriculture that are under consideration.
Legislators are working toward the April 3 first adjournment.
Augmentation to remedy impairments - The House
passed SB 52 yesterday (3/25). This bill would allow the chief engineer
of the Division of Water Resources to use water augmentation to remedy
cases of impairment of senior water rights. SB 52 was amended to
incorporate language from SB 36 that would allow water users enrolled in
a five-year flex account to roll over a portion of their unused
allocation into a subsequent flex account. This bill likely will be
reviewed by a House and Senate Conference Committee next week. KLA
supports SB 52.
Mitigation of watershed dams - Earlier this week,
the Senate passed HB 2061. Supported by KLA, the bill would authorize
the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s State Conservation Commission to
acquire and administer conservation easements necessary for the
mitigation of new dams sponsored by watershed districts. HB 2061
previously passed the House and now goes to a House and Senate
Veterinary training - The Senate recently passed
HB 2364, which would extend the Kansas State University College of
Veterinary Medicine scholarship program for students who pledge to
practice veterinary medicine in rural areas of Kansas. HB 2364
previously passed the House and now is in a House and Senate conference
committee. KLA supports this bill.
from March 25
MCNEILL TELLS PANEL EXCLUDING LEAN MEAT ‘IGNORES DECADES OF NUTRITION SCIENCE”
NCBA Executive Director of Human Nutrition Research Shalene McNeill
told a government panel yesterday that excluding lean meat as part of a
healthy dietary pattern is a historic move that ignores decades of
nutrition science and all previous editions of the U.S. Dietary
Guidelines. While the advisory committee revising the guidelines defends
its scientific report as mentioning lean beef in a footnote, McNeill
said the recommendations could have a detrimental impact on human
“Advising people to cut back on their red meat intake has had
harmful consequences,” she said during a public meeting on the proposed
guidelines. “As red meat intake has declined, we are consuming more
empty calories and obesity rates have steadily increased.”
McNeill’s comments came during a public meeting on the Dietary
Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report, released in February.
USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are accepting
public comments until May 8. Secretaries Sylvia Burwell and Tom Vilsack
are reviewing scientific evidence assembled by the advisory committee
before final guidelines are issued later this year.
Significant scientific evidence supports including lean red meat,
like nutrient-rich beef, as part of a healthy diet. NCBA is encouraging
Burwell and Vilsack to reinstate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines
recommendation on lean meat.
Livestock industry stakeholders who would like to submit comments
supporting the inclusion of lean meat in the new dietary guidelines can
do so by clicking here. Sample comments are available at this site.
from March 24
LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD TO BE AWARDED IN KANSAS
The Sand County Foundation, in partnership with Ranchland Trust of
Kansas (RTK) and the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts
(KACD), is accepting applications for the Leopold Conservation Award in
Kansas. This year, for the first time, a $10,000 award will be presented
to a Kansas farmer, rancher or private landowner who voluntarily
exemplifies responsible natural resource stewardship and management.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Kansas
award is made possible by support from Clean Line Energy Partners,
Ducks Unlimited, International Transmission Company, NextEra Energy
Resources, Westar Energy, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks,
DuPont Pioneer, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley
Applications must be postmarked by May 29. For an application or more information, go to www.leopoldconservationaward.org. The award will be presented November 23 during the KACD Convention in Wichita.
RTK is an affiliate of KLA. The RTK mission is “to preserve Kansas’
ranching heritage and open spaces for future generations through the
conservation of working landscapes.”
from March 23
STATE LEGISLATORS CONTINUE TO LOOK FOR FUNDING SOURCES
Several bills were the subject of hearings last week in tax
committees. This was in anticipation of the Kansas Legislature being
forced to increase taxes to balance the 2016 state budget. As with all
pending tax bills, lawmakers are not expected to vote on any tax
measures until the veto session starts April 29.
Thus far, tax committees have not scheduled hearings on SB 178 or SB
264. SB 178 is the bill estimated to increase property taxes on
agricultural land by more than 500%. SB 264 proposes to impose a sales
tax on farm machinery and equipment, repair and replacement parts, and
labor costs for repairing farm machinery and equipment. KLA opposes
Other bills of interest to the livestock industry were discussed last week by legislators.
Sales tax on utilities - The Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation held a hearing last week
on a bill (SB 261) to impose a sales tax on gas, electricity and other
fuel sources for residential and agricultural use. SB 261 would raise an
additional $139 million in state general funds. KLA submitted testimony
in opposition to the bill.
Excise tax on renewable energy - The House Tax
Committee held a hearing last week on a bill that would impose a 4.33%
excise tax on ethanol, wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy
production. To date, the bill (HB 2401) has not been scheduled for a
from March 20
VIRTUAL KANSAS DAIRY TOUR LAUNCHED ON NATIONAL AGRICULTURE DAY
The Kansas ag community released a new virtual
dairy farm tour on National Agriculture Day. Posted on the Kansas State
Research and Extension YouTube channel, the video features Steve
Strickler’s dairy farm near Iola.
Grade school classes from Norton, Williamsburg and Leon watched a
tour of the farm March 18 when ag groups nationwide worked to promote a
better understanding and appreciation for food producers. In conjunction
with the video, Strickler and his herdsman, Harry Clubine, visited
online with students about life at the dairy.
Use of the virtual farm tour is encouraged by the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Questions about the video should be directed to email@example.com.
from March 19
FREE BQA CERTIFICATION AVAILABLE ONLINE
Ranchers, feeders and dairymen can earn free Beef Quality Assurance
(BQA) certification through April 15. The offer is available as the
result of a partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica (BI) and
the checkoff-funded BQA program. Certification can be accomplished here.
Online modules are customized to meet the needs of producers in
different industry segments, including cow-calf, stocker, feedyard and
dairy. Beyond reinforcing best practices for cattle production, cattle
producers becoming BQA-certified helps reassure consumers they are
buying a safe, wholesome product.
This is the third year BI has sponsored this promotion. The
partnership has led to more than 16,000 producers earning BQA
from March 18
KANSAS AG COMMUNITY RECOGNIZES WORK OF FARMERS AND RANCHERS
A group of ag businesses and organizations led by
the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) is bringing attention to the
contributions of farmers and ranchers on National Agriculture Day.
Activities started this morning with representatives of the group
visiting the office of each state legislator at the Capitol to deliver
treats and answer questions.
Later today, the focus will be on National Geographic
photographer Jim Richardson, who will speak in Manhattan about hunger
around the world and the importance of feeding a growing population.
Following Richardson’s lecture, a panel of Kansas agriculture experts
will take the stage to address the state’s role in growing food for a
The groups have dedicated most of the month of March to the
Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive. Food donations collected during the
statewide promotion will help feed the hungry and highlight agriculture
Kansas Agriculture Month sponsors include KDA, the Kansas Beef
Council, Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors, Farm Credit
Associations of Kansas, Heritage Tractor, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers
Association, Kansas Corn Commission, Kansas Cotton Commission, Kansas
Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Pork Association, Kansas Wheat
Commission, Livestock Marketing Association, Kansas Dairy Association,
Dairy Farmers of America, Seaboard, Kansas Soybean, Ardent Mills, Kansas
Bankers Association and Kansas Sorghum.
from March 17
SENATORS CALL FOR EXTENSION OF COMMENT PERIOD ON DIETARY GUIDELINES REPORT
A bipartisan group of four U.S. senators, led by Pat Roberts of Kansas, have requested a 30-day extension of the public comment period on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Scientific Report. Joining Roberts in the request are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Patty Murray (D-WA). In a letter to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell, the senators suggested the advisory committee’s notably different recommendations from previous guidelines will require additional time for analysis. An extension, according to the senators, would be extremely beneficial to help continue the transparent process and ensure the final report is of the utmost scientific integrity.
Sen. Roberts is chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, with Sen. Stabenow serving as ranking member. Sen. Alexander serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over HHS. Sen. Murray is ranking member of the committee.
NCBA has been critical of the scientific report due to inconsistencies that will lead to conflicting dietary advice. On one hand, the advisory committee has endorsed the Mediterranean style diet, which has higher red meat levels than currently consumed by the average American. On the other hand, committee members removed lean meats from the list of foods associated with a healthy diet; instead including only a footnote indicating lean meats can be part of a healthy diet.