Raylen Phelon, Kansas Soybean Association

(Raylen Phelon) Hi, I’m Raylen Phelon. I’m a farmer from Melvern, Kansas. I’ve lived around the Melvern area my whole life, almost 55 years. We raise soybeans, corn, a little bit of wheat, a little bit of millet. We have a small cowherd, and I’ve been on the Kansas Soybean Association Board, since about 2005. I came on as an appointed member, to the Membership Committee after serving on the DuPont Young Leaders. My wife and I, we used to participate in DuPont Young Leaders in 2004, and there have been many other couples before us and after us that have been involved in that. It’s a great program, and we’ve got some new young leaders here today that we just recognized and a great program and it’s a great asset to have these young people get involved with the Kansas Soybean Association, not only for us but they may serve on their local township boards, school boards, some County Commissioners, maybe even some state representatives down the road. The Kansas Soybean Association, primarily, our focus is on policy. We want to work with our representatives, our state legislators, and our national congressmen and Senators and just let them know that we are very interested in the decisions that they make and we are going to provide them information to help them make good and strong decisions that are advantageous to Kansas agriculture. We go to Washington, DC two or three times a year; there’s typically two, three, four, maybe five people or some of the board members that will go and visit with their representatives and every time that I’ve been we’ve been able to meet, I’d say 95% of the time, with our representatives. Once in a while, they may be in a committee or on the house floor and aren’t able to meet, but they’re very receptive to us, they want to hear what our concerns are at home and what policy, how it needs to be guided. It’s a great organization. We’ve got several hundred farmers from around Kansas that are members of the Kansas Soybean Association and we’re the voice for them and we’re going to take their concerns and thoughts to our representatives. When things come up for a vote, it goes in our favor and not at a disadvantage to us. One of the things that’s always on our mind, probably our top priority, is making sure that we maintain the right to farm in Kansas because there are a lot of anti-farm groups out there that they don’t believe that you should be using genetically modified seeds to plant. They don’t think that you should be eating livestock, which God put them on this Earth for us to eat and so we want to take care of them. My cows, I’ve got a small cowherd at home, and I want to take care of them. We don’t fill them full of hormones, or inject them with a whole bunch of antibiotics. We want to make sure they’re healthy, and the way to do that is to take care of them and make sure they have proper feed, proper water and if there is, sometimes there may be a small problem, get them isolated, get them to the veterinarian. Have the veterinarian check them out, see what’s going on with them, and get them the medications that they need. No different than what you would do with your own family members. You can’t sit on the sidelines and not do anything. I got involved with the Kansas Soybean Association, and I was also on our local school board years ago. When our kids were real small, I didn’t like the way some things were going on our school board and so we had two options. One, take our kids to another school, home-school them, or get involved and try to make changes and so, I ran for school board. First I got on the site council and, then I ran for school board a year or two later and was successful, and did make some changes and I think it kept our school viable. It kept our kids educated and it allowed our kids to be able to go on. Not only my kids, but also many other kids to get that basic education they need to go on and get a college degree. So they can go out into the world now and get jobs, maintain the farms, take care of the animals and also do community service on their own, and then also come back and work on the Soybean Association. Possibly maybe Corn Growers; maybe Farm Bureau, which my oldest daughter — she’s a board member on the Osage County Farm Bureau. It’s good and it’s reassuring to see them want to get back involved and help the communities and help their fellow farmers.

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