Yesterday in celebration of Kansas Agriculture day the Kansas Department of Agriculture hosted a dialogue of Kansas agriculture. Held at the Kansas State capital the panel of diverse agricultural leaders included: Brandi Buzzard author of the blog, Buzzard’s Beat; Dr. Mike Aply of Kansas State University; Doug Hofbauer President and CEO of Frontier Farm Credit; Bob Petersen, Executive Director of the Kansas City Agribusiness Council; and Diana Floyd, RD, LD, Kansas State Department of Education Child Nutrition Consultant.
One of the members of the panel was our very own Jay Armstrong. A member of the Kansas Wheat Commission, Jay grows wheat, corn, and soybeans in Atchison County. Kansas. He also serves as chairman of Farm Foundation, an organization focused on providing factual, unbiased information for policy makers.
Panelists were asked several questions by moderator Greg Akagi, farm director at WIBW radio: What is the biggest issue facing Kansas agriculture today, how do we deal with the current drought situation, and what is to be done about the increasing age of the Kansas farmer? Armstrong said agricultural research is critical to the future of agriculture, especially when droughts are concerned.
“It means research and it means the right kind of research. Research dollars are a very limited resource. We need to decide what it is we want to invest in and put the limited amount of money towards that.”
This is exactly what wheat farmers have decided to do. The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center is the states’ largest farmer investment in wheat research. The new facility includes 15,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory space and 10,000 square foot greenhouse facility. This will allow for year-round wheat variety development and research.
Jay understands that this current drought could last a long time, and there will be more droughts to come in the future. Beyond drought, there are other problems such as gluten sensitivity and a desire for yield increases – all of which are things research will provide answers to.
“We’ve got to add value to whatever we are producing and the thing that adds value is technology…..That’s the future and the future is bright.”
Each panelist discussed how agriculturalists need to “take action” and “tell our story.” The wheat farmers of Kansas have decided to take action and create a solid investment in the future of wheat genetics. It is through the actions of producers that we will see our industry continue to grow and adapt to the needs of consumers. One thing we know for sure is that when difficult questions arise, wheat farmers answer with action.
If you would like to watch the discussion it is available on the Kansas Department of Ag Website.