Rich Felts, KFB President

(Jim) (Rich Felts) This is Rich Felts, President of Kansas Farm Bureau to just talk a little bit about some of the issues that are of importance to not only our members but the ag producers across the state and across the country. Some of those issues, I think, are on most of our minds are issues that we got in Washington, D.C. They involve where we’re going with our ag policy. We hate to have the importance of ag policy and one of our issues was, the last time we had a Farm Bill a lot of people didn’t show much interest in that because the ag economy was on very strong footing. But as we know, things have changed. This time there’s going to be a lot more attention paid to what the concerns are and how we address those things. I think issues that are important from the standpoint of us as ag producers are what’s most important to us. Is it crop insurance? Is it the ability to have some type of title one or direct payments as we’ve had with the existing ARC and PLC payments and even though we know there’s questions come with those, but also the importance of conservation. Do we want to have a conservation program that addresses CRP ground? Do we want to make sure we have EQIP funding? Which direction do we want to go? I think those are some of the issues but also important is the regulations. We know the baseline for ag programs is going to be somewhat limited. How can we leverage some of the funds that we get? Can we reduce some regulations that reduce our costs of production as it comes to input costs and other things? Trade is important. We know with the change of administration, trade is one of those issues that’s really become in question. As we had election, we had two candidates that both questioned whether they wanted to continue with the TPP. As it’s turned out with one of our candidates being elected, he’s definitely said, “No TPP.” But by the same token, he has pledged that he will work to have more bilateral agreements with other countries. I think those are some of the more important issues that are facing us on the national scene at this time. Here in the state of Kansas, we’re not immune from issues either that are important to us and agriculture and as taxpayers in general. On the ag scene, I think one issue that we’ve got is water issues that our governor has done a good job of addressing water issues. When he came with his 50-year water visions, hasn’t come with many answers. But I think he’s gotten the issue on the table and there’s a lot more discussion going on about how we address some of these water issues across the state. Whether it be in the west with the Ogallala, the central part of the state or even with our reservoir systems here in the eastern side. The other one that is very important to us is taxation. We have some concern in agriculture that we know on the property side, we have use value appraisal that has met the needs of Kansans very well in the system that’s very much accepted across the country. Has been a very fair way of taxing property. Also in agriculture, we have the exemption of a lot of farm inputs. That’s no different than industrial inputs and I think it’s very important that we do strive to maintain those exemptions. Also, we know that there’s a deficit in our state budgets and we’ve got to work to find some funding sources for those. I think we have to be open-minded a little bit as we go forward and realize that we’re all going to have to contribute when it comes to that.

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