from May 4


     The 2016 Kansas legislative session adjourned about 3:30 a.m. Monday (5/2) morning after passing a budget. Terms of the compromise will allow Gov. Sam Brownback to reduce the state highway fund by an additional $70 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016 and $115 million in FY 2017; postpone nearly $100 million in Kansas Public Employee Retirement System payments; and make cuts between 3% and 5% per state agency to balance the 2016 fiscal year budget, which ends June 30, 2016. The budget, however, prohibits the governor from reducing funding for K-12 education. 
     During the final days of the session, lawmakers passed a tax package that included a one-year sales tax exemption for property and services purchased in 2016 that are necessary to construct, reconstruct, repair or replace fences damaged or destroyed by fire during the 2016 calendar year. Taxpayers may file for a sales tax refund after July 1, 2016, for purchases during the first half of this year. Sen. Steve Abrams of Arkansas City and Rep. Kyle Hoffman from Coldwater largely were responsible for convincing a conference committee to include this provision in the tax bill.  
     A compromise on a property tax lid, supported by KLA, also was reached between business interests and local units of government. The compromise would require city and county governments to seek approval of voters for budget increases in excess of the rate of inflation. Included in the compromise was an earlier effective date of 2017, but additional expenditures and revenue streams were made exempt from the cap compared to current law.
     Prior to adjournment, the House and Senate also passed a KLA-supported bill that would reform regulatory procedures of the state’s threatened and endangered species act. Other bills approved during the veto session provide a penalty for failing to file annual water use reports, reclassify the chief engineer as a classified state employee and require greater public notice of applications and orders under the Kansas Water Appropriations Act. 


from May 2


     The latest Food for Thought program in the Upson Lecture series brought together a panel representing segments ranging from the rancher to a food marketer who connects with moms. During the April 25 event in Manhattan, Lincolnville cow-calf producer Mark Harms told the audience of mostly college students he is concerned the push-back on production methods, including antibiotic use, could have a negative effect on animal health and welfare.
     “Responsible use of antibiotics is a priority to me as a producer,” Harms said.
     Cargill Cattle Feeders President Todd Allen, another of the panelists, confirmed the number one subject in the beef marketplace today is antibiotics. Allen said Cargill’s recent announcement that it will eliminate 20% of shared-class antibiotic use in its four feedyards is in response to retail and foodservice customers being pressured by activist groups to reduce or cut antibiotic use. He said although science has provided only dubious evidence of a connection between the use in food animals and resistance in humans, Cargill is collaborating with researchers and allied industry partners to identify production practices and other alternatives that could result in further reductions in antibiotic use.
     Panelists Ann Brackenridge, director of Cargill’s case-ready pork research and development, and Chef Alli, a food brand diplomat who connects mostly with moms, addressed questions about differences between natural, organic and conventional meats. They verified all three choices are safe and the nutritional content is virtually the same until any type of processing occurs.
     “It’s all about choices and affordability,” Chef Alli said.  


from April 29


     Nearly 100 Wichita consumers took part in the April 23 Day at the Farm Tour organized by the Greenwood County CattleWomen. Jamie Lindamood, who planned the educational event, conceived the tour idea during the KLA Leadership Conference in January.
     “Educating consumers about how we produce their food has become nearly as important as actually growing it,” said Lindamood, who lives on a farm with her husband, Diltz, near Eureka.
     The group heard from range management specialists Luke Westerman and Dale Kirkham about the native tallgrass prairie. Jack and Becky Lindamood from Quincy hosted a tour stop focused on crop and hay production, where participants climbed on tractors and other equipment. Following a beef lunch, the group was exposed to a prescribed pasture burn at Lindamood Ranch, where smoke management was discussed. The next stop, at Dalebanks Angus of Eureka, included presentations about beef by-products by Amy Perrier and Anna Curry and animal husbandry and breeding technologies by KLA President Matt Perrier. Also at this stop, Greenwood County KLA Chairman Glen Collinge, along with the younger Dalebanks ranch crew, demonstrated how calves are worked.
     A wildflower walk concluded the tour. Prior to departing for Wichita, participants were served homemade cookies, baked by Carolyn Perrier and Dee Lindamood, and milk, provided by Hildebrand Farms Dairy of Junction City.


from April 28


     The impact of wildfires on forage production and grazing could depend on the type of grass involved. Kansas State University Associate Professor of Range Management Walter Fick said little bluestem, a key component of mixed prairies, is a bunchgrass that can burn for long periods of time, causing greater damage.
Short grasses, such as buffalo and blue grama, could be tremendously impacted by wildfire as well, Fick said. One study, with conditions similar to the Anderson Creek fire, showed a 65% reduction in forage production by the end of the first season. The grasses in this study did not completely recover until the third year after the fire.
     Fick suggested rhizomatous grasses, such as big bluestem, Indiangrass and switchgrass, should recover easily due to deeper root systems.
     “In the tallgrass areas, unless we go into a drought period, we will not have to modify stocking rates at all or minimally,” said Fick.
     Grazing in mixed and short grass pastures will depend on precipitation. Fick recommends considering early season grazing deferment to help grasses recover. Adequate moisture could mean landowners might be able to skip this step. Fick said late summer rest also will be crucial to helping plants recover.


from April 27


     Members of the Beef Production 610 class at Fort Hays State University will be reaching out to fellow students on campus and the general public during a special event April 28. Fort Hays Associate Professor of Agriculture Brittany Howell says this gives students an opportunity to learn how to communicate with the public about beef and cattle production. Class members have created informational posters to help visually explain various topics.
     Paige Pratt, co-owner of Johnson Farms at Dwight and a PhD in animal science, will moderate the discussion. Free samples featuring the class’s favorite ground beef recipes will be served during the information sharing session, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Quad.    


from April 26


     A limited series of signed and numbered prints of the original painting “A Walk Through Henry’s Dream”, created by Eva Gardiner (pictured, right) of Ashland, currently are for sale here. All proceeds from the sale of the prints will be donated to the Kansas Livestock Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund.
     Gardiner created the painting as a thank you to Kansas State University veterinarian Dan Thomson (pictured, left) for his keynote presentation at the opening of the Henry & Nan Gardiner Marketing Center earlier this month. After many in the audience of more than 600 expressed an interest in the painting, Thomson, Eva Gardiner and Gardiner Angus Ranch generously decided to offer the limited edition prints to support wildfire relief efforts.
     The gallery-quality prints are $200 each and will be shipped upon receipt of payment.


from April 25


     The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health (DAH) held a hearing April 20 on proposed changes to state regulations pertaining to trichomoniasis in cattle. KLA testified in favor of the regulation, which more clearly outlines instances when cattle are subject to trichomoniasis quarantine and how the animals may exit quarantine once it is in place. The rule does not substantially change existing regulations that apply to bulls, but does expand the regulation to cover cows over the age of 12 months. 
     KLA worked with DAH prior to release of the proposed regulation to ensure it represented a balance that protects the health of Kansas cattle herds, while not unduly infringing on private property rights. One issue KLA supported was ensuring separately owned cattle that may have been commingled are subject to separate quarantines to allow for differences in herd management. Also, KLA supported a neighbor notification rule that only requires the owner of a positive trichomoniasis herd to report known adjacent herd owners to DAH, rather than have the individual do a title search of all adjacent herd owners.


from April 22


     The Kansas State University Meat Evaluation Team won the national championship earlier this month in Lincoln, NE. This was K-State’s first national title in the meat evaluation contest’s 53-year history. The competition includes live and carcass predictions and pricing, breeding animal evaluations and meats judging.
     As a team, K-State won five contest divisions, including market animal, meats, breeding stock, beef and sheep. The team was reserve champion in the swine division.
     K-State team member Barrett Simon of Leon was the high-scoring individual overall, with teammate Blake Foraker from Burrton coming in second. Overall, K-State had eight of the top 10 individual scores in the contest.
     The team is coached by Assistant Professor Travis O’Quinn and instructor Chris Mullinix. They were assisted by graduate student Austin Langemeier. All are affiliated with the K-State Department of Animal Sciences & Industry.


from April 21


     State beef council staff from Kansas and several other states annually participate in regional and national conferences for the American Culinary Federation (ACF). This engagement helps keep beef top of mind with culinary influencers including chefs, chef instructors, culinary students and other foodservice professionals.
     The most recent ACF event where beef was represented was in Hawaii. Beef checkoff dollars were used to host conference attendees on a tour of local cattle ranches. The tour was vital to helping chefs understand the modern beef system from pasture to plate, as they many times are asked questions by customers about production practices and how beef gets to the table. Additionally, a panel discussion at the conference covered topics including the beef life cycle, grades of beef and the differences between grain-fed, grass-finished and organic.
     Earlier this year, beef checkoff staff were on hand for an ACF regional meeting in Atlanta. The checkoff-funded session showcased how beef fits into new foodservice menu trends. NCBA Executive Chef Dave Zino emphasized the stabilization in beef prices offers a prime opportunity for restaurants to feature beef in a multitude of flavor profiles, giving customers the protein they crave. 


from April 20


     A yearling Angus bull sold yesterday (4/19) in a progressive auction at Farmers & Ranchers Livestock Commission Company of Salina generated $8,000 for the Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF) Wildfire Relief Fund. The bull was donated by Shane and Phil Schneider of Culver and Morton Buildings of Salina. 
     Proceeds from the sale of the bull will be used to purchase fencing supplies, pay for the treatment of cattle injured in the fire and other priority needs identified by local KLA leadership in Comanche and Barber counties. Every dollar donated to KLF will go to Kansas ranchers trying to recover from devastating wildfires.
     Individuals, organizations and companies can make a tax-deductible contribution to wildfire victims
here or by sending a check to KLF, 6031 S.W. 37th, Topeka, KS 66614.