Ryan Flickner with KFB

(Jim) (Ryan Flickner) Today we had our Commodities Conference here in Manhattan. We have roughly 100-125 members in town just learning about some policy implementation issues that we as an organization both here at Kansas Farm Bureau and also at the national level with American Farm Bureau need to be aware of. Clearly with the change in administration in Washington, DC a lot has changed. There’s a new Sheriff in town, lots of new cabinet level secretaries are being confirmed or at least going through the confirmation process as it currently stands. Fortunately, unfortunately it’s just the way that the cards were dealt this year or this cycle. Sonny Perdue the nominee for the Secretary of Agriculture was the last nominee to be announced. It’s likely that that confirmation hearing will take place in late February, early March. Couple of other issues that Farm Bureau has following at the national scene includes tax reform. The Republicans in the House put a blueprint out last fall. The President has taken that, run with it on a couple of different issues but we in Kansas are very fortunate. Congresswoman Jenkins serves on the Ways and Means Committee and then Senator Robert serves on the Finance Committee. Those are the two committees with jurisdiction over all tax and trade issues. Working very closely with those members and their staff on those issues. Another big issue of importance to Farm Bureau includes regulatory reform, including endangered species reform. Senator Moran serves on the Environment and Public Committee. We believe there will be some hearings on the regulatory and endangered species front in the very near future and look forward to working with Senator Moran on that. Last but not least on February 23rd just a couple of weeks here in Manhattan Senator Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee will host the very first Farm Bill Field Hearing to gear up for the 2018 Farm Bill Rewrite. Talking with the Chairman and his staff there may be a desire to actually write legislative language yet here in 2017 just to make sure that that Farm Bill is taken care of on time. As farmers and ranchers across the state know the economic situation that we face today in agriculture is very different than when the 2014 Farm Bill was written. Those are probably a few items that we are following very closely on the national scene. Continue to monitor the trade developments or lack thereof when it comes to TPP and NAFTA. On the stateside, we just found out this week that the Senate has passed out of committee at least a tax measure that may be the workhorse if you will for the rest of the session to figure out how we get revenues back in line with expenditures at the state level. Also the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed out a Rescission Bill. That is how the state will balance the roughly $350 million shortfall for the current fiscal year which expires the end of June. Then we will be gearing up for the two-year budget cycle for fiscal year ’18 and ’19. Some other issues to watch at the Capitol and the State House in Topeka remain a number of water bills including an impairment hearing– Impairment Bill I should say. There’s a modification to the Water Conservation Area or WCA. Also some other what I would call rats and cats type issues certainly important for members that live this and breathe it every day. Agro-tourism remains a constant issue that gets debated. There are some transportation issues that will be debated. As well as probably a debate on the Scrap Metal Bill that Farm Bureau fought very hard for a couple of years ago. It’s working very well with the Attorney General and others that have really tried to root out some of the scrap metal theft that have happened on center pivots and other farm machinery throughout the state. Yes, at the Kansas Farm Bureau we have a number of ways that we are communicating with our members including text alert. Our Voter Voice which is the way that we email our members electronically every week; as well as with legislative updates as well as action alerts on timely issues whether those pertain and happen in Topeka or Washington DC. We also have our twice-weekly e-news. In addition to that we have a number of upcoming events at the district level, county level and even state level to engage with legislators in Topeka. We will be taking a group of Farm Bureau members to Washington DC late February. Another trip that we’re just beginning to plan for now in May. Then we have a USDA Lockup report that talks more about markets that we’ll be happening in August. There’s certainly a number of avenues for members to participate both at the state and national level as well as follow us on a weekly basis and more frequently should issues pop up our members need to engage via Voter Voice.

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