FRIDAY, OCT. 24: EARLY Registration deadline for the MAST program (save $200!)

The Management, Analysis, and Strategic Thinking (MAST) is an interactive learning program designed for agricultural producers and agribusiness professionals to enhance and strengthen their farm management skills, equipping them to create a vision for their businesses and handle the challenges of the changing agricultural landscape.

This year’s event kicks off November 18 and 19 in Manhattan. Participants participate in self-paced, computer-based learning modules from the kick-off session in November until the concluding session held February 17-18, 2015 in Manhattan.

Launched in 2001 by faculty within the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics, this program offers a combination of on-campus and off-campus learning components each year, covering a wide range of practical, relevant topics. This unique program delivery keeps our program pricing competitive and reasonable. Additionally, many participants even secure sponsors who assist in offsetting costs.

The EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24. In order to save $200, register by Friday, October 24. The final registration deadline is November 5. For more information, contact Rich Llewelyn at 785.532.1504 or

Kansas Grocer Forms Unique Relationship with Local Farmers

Produce items adorned with oval-shaped gold stickers at Hiawatha Thiftway, located in northeast Kansas, are grown by local farmers. Store owner Tim White partners with the local farmers’ market to bring these locally grown foods into his store.

“That’s the relationship I’ve tried to build with the producers,” White said. “They come to the market to sell their goods, and they hope they sell out. If they don’t, I’m here to help them out. I want to sell that product on my shelves, too, and give people who can’t make it to the market the opportunity to buy those locally grown products out of my store.”

The local market runs out of Hiawatha Thriftway’s parking lot on Tuesday evenings and gives people the opportunity to have more access to fresh produce. Vendors display their garden vegetables, fruits, herbs, and homemade jams, jellies and baked bread in front of the store, which might seem odd considering some of the items compete with goods sold in-store.

White said at first he was skeptical about putting competition at his front door, but he remained open-minded. A customer helped him see how the situation could prove beneficial.

“A customer looked at me and said, ‘You know, you put that farmers’ market in your parking lot, I’m going to shop it, and then I’m going to shop your store,’” he said. “So a light bulb went on at that time.”

The customer was right indeed. The market has created a social event that White said has made him feel as though he’s contributing to something greater for his community. It has even brought new faces into the store.

A parking lot that belongs to a neighboring church has been used at times for vehicle overflow on Tuesday evenings, which he said used to be the store’s slowest night of the week.

“The grocery business is a hard business,” White said. “Profits are almost unattainable sometimes, but that particular evening, we saw about a 4 to 5 percent increase in sales. I consider that amazing, because to get a 4 to 5 percent increase in sales is almost impossible to buy through advertising.”

David Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development at Kansas State University, works regularly with grocers through K-State’s Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI)—an initiative that helps identify and develop models to sustain retail food sources in rural areas. He said the rural grocery business is not only tough, but it’s competitive. To be successful and compete with some of the larger food retailers, rural grocers must be innovative and entrepreneurial.

Research ( led by K-State agricultural economists Hikaru Peterson, professor, and Hannah Miller, graduate student, found certain strategies can help make rural grocery stores more competitive.

These strategies include partnering with other institutional food buyers such as nursing homes, schools or other businesses; offering a fresh and locally sourced meat counter; maintaining a strong sense of customer service; and partnering with local growers to sell locally grown produce in the grocery store, as Tim White has done.

More access to fresh produce

Some say necessity is the mother of invention, meaning that difficulties inspire solutions. Several citizens of Brown County, in partnership with organizations such as the Kansas Health Foundation and Hiawatha Foundation for Economic Development, formed the Brown County Healthy Foods Coalition that made the farmers’ market at Hiawatha Thriftway possible.

“The necessity was that Brown County was unhealthy,” said Don Nigus, program director of the coalition, referring to Brown County’s former rank toward the bottom of healthy counties in Kansas. “Some people in the community were looking for a project, and the project seemed to fit the need.”

Three years ago, this group of people, called the “transformers,” wanted to first help the Hiawatha community by improving access to healthy food, particularly fresh produce. They determined through focus groups that one potential solution was regular access to a local farmers’ market.

With grant funding, the coalition formed, and volunteers from many areas—farmers, business owners and representatives from some of the Native American nations in the county—figured out how to improve food access for the county and even more broadly, northeast Kansas.

The work by the coalition, however, has expanded beyond the regular market at Hiawatha Thriftway. Nigus said the coalition helped establish the Community Foundation of Northeast Kansas, a nonprofit organization that brings rural communities together in the area and helps facilitate grant funding for various community development projects.

The coalition is also looking to expand its community gardening effort as a result of the Postage Stamp Produce Production Project, a grant-funded project that examines using tracts of land that are tax delinquent and not being cared for, to plant a variety of specialty crops.

“The key and our hope is that we can keep the growing season going long enough to get healthy food to kids in public schools and also to senior citizens,” Nigus said.

This year, Nigus said the community garden network involved individuals and groups to manage the plots. The network allowed for more produce available to the community and the farmers’ market, but there is potential in the next few years for the county to become a sub-hub that can ship excess fresh produce to food hubs established in more populated cities—Lawrence and Kansas City—close by.

“In terms of economic development, this could mean creating jobs, growing more food and getting those foods into a greater area,” Nigus said. “There is potential for the sub-hub to get more producers involved.”

He added that getting more people involved, especially young people, to grow food in the community gardens could create a sense of belonging to the food production system and provide an important educational opportunity. People can learn what it takes to grow various types of fresh produce and how it can be used to make nutritious meals.

Making a rural business work

White said he knows food access is necessary to sustain a community, which could be a reason why he has spent most of his life in the grocery business.

“I actually grew up in Hiawatha as a youth, but I moved away and did the city thing,” he explained. “When I had my first child, I said, ‘We need to get back to the small community.’ I went back to the grocery store where I worked in high school and asked that owner if he would be willing to hire me back. He was actually working toward retirement and felt he had a need for somebody he could train to manage the store.”

When he moved back, White said he had been away from Hiawatha for 10 years. The town wasn’t the same as he remembered, and he knew he had a lot of learning to do. He got involved in the Hiawatha Chamber of Commerce, as well as school and other local activities. He aimed to reacquaint himself with people in the community and customers of the store.

“If you don’t do that, you might as well not be in business,” he said, “not only for the reason of getting to know people, but also for the reasons of giving back and building on your rural community. As an ag-based community, it’s important that we build on what we have.”

If people living in rural communities desire to sustain that rural community, Procter said it is important that the grocery store survive, as it is an “anchor business.”

“These small rural businesses provide an average of 15 local jobs,” Procter said. “They provide, on average, 20 percent of local sales tax revenues. They are the primary source of healthful food options in a rural community, and they are consistently one of the main gathering spots in a rural town. Research has also shown that, ‘As the grocery store goes, so goes other businesses,’ meaning that if the grocery store struggles, other local businesses struggle as well.”

White has now managed Hiawatha Thriftway for about 14 years and owned it for five. In that time, building trust with customers has been a priority to keep them coming back.

“I think it’s important for any business person in any community to be involved in what’s going on, but as a grocer, in my opinion, it’s even more important,” White said. “People have to trust their local grocer and feel that grocer cares about the community. Otherwise, they’ll go other places to shop.”

Trust. Support. Relationships. Key tips for rural survival might be easier said than done, but it helps when local leaders, as visionaries for the future, make them come to life.

“The move toward locally grown (food) is catching on everywhere,” White said. “Eventually, the bigger markets and bigger players are going to catch on to this, too. I hope that getting on the ground floor, and building relationships now, will help maintain us when that does happen.”

A video interview with Tim White is available on the K-State Research and Extension YouTube page (

More information about strengthening rural grocery stores is available through the RGI at The Rural Grocery Toolkit is a recently added resource to the website that was designed for two primary audiences: those considering establishing a grocery store and existing rural grocery store owners. That toolkit is available at

For more information: David Procter – or 785-532-6868
Story by: Katie Allen – or 785-532-1162

College of Agriculture News Update

This week in Ag News Now:

- International Agriculture Development Opportunities available through AgriCorps
– Deseret Ranches seeking interns
– Students who ordered College of Ag t-shirts through Ag Council can pick them up in Waters 117

Read more at:

Have news, announcements, etc. to share? Submit your news here!

Contact us!
Questions about Ag News Now? Contact us at

Calling Dairy Producers: Oct. 28 Webinar to Focus on New Farm Bill Program

The Dairy Margin Protection Program was designed to protect from unfavorable margins.

Kansas State University will host a webinar on the Dairy Margin Protection Program of the 2014 Farm Bill Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. CDT.

The free, one-hour webinar by K-State Research and Extension associate Robin Reid, will give a comprehensive view of the program and how producers might use it to manage risk in their operations.

Also called the MPP-Dairy program, it is a voluntary risk management program to protect dairy producers from unfavorable margins that can occur between the price of milk and the cost of feed inputs. It replaces the Market Income Loss Coverage (MILC) program of the 2008 Farm Bill.

“This is not a price support program like traditional dairy programs have been,” Reid said, adding that producers are eligible to participate if they have current commercial milk marketings from cows located in the United States, are U.S. citizens, are actively engaged in the operation, and are in conservation compliance.

Registration for the 2015 MPP-Dairy program ends on November 28th, 2014, so now is the time to learn more about the program and make a sign-up decision, she said.

More information about the webinar is available at The session will be recorded and available under the Farm Bill page on


K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Mary Lou Peter
K-State Research and Extension

For more information:
Robin Reid – 785-532-0964 or

Answering the Call: Kansas State University to Host 15 Farm Bill Meetings

2014 Farm Bill logoK-State Teams With Sponsors to Help Ag Producers with Big Decisions

Farmers are faced with some of the most important decisions of their working lives under the 2014 Farm Bill. To help them make informed decisions, K-State Research and Extension is teaming with several sponsors to bring 15 educational meetings to Kansans in January and February.

“USDA has stated that farmers have at least until March 31 to elect one of the commodity programs,” said Art Barnaby, agricultural economist with K-State Research and Extension. “Once a commodity program is elected, that farm serial number is locked in for the next five years, so these are important decisions.”

Starting in January 2015, Barnaby and K-State agricultural economist Mykel Taylor will travel the state to provide information on commodity programs and the economic tradeoffs between the options, as well as major changes to crop insurance. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency also will discuss commodity program procedures.

The half-day meetings will cover decision aid tools that were funded by the USDA, as well as a new Excel-based tool developed by Oklahoma State University and K-State, designed to help agricultural producers make decisions as they examine their options.

Besides K-State, major sponsors include Ag Risk Solutions, ARMtech Insurance Services, Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, and ProAg.

Farm Bill meeting dates and locations include:

Jan. 12 – Wichita
Jan. 13 – Pittsburg
Jan. 14 – Emporia
Jan. 15 – Ottawa
Jan. 20 – Salina
Jan. 21 – McPherson
Jan. 22 – Pratt
Jan. 26 – Goodland
Jan. 27 – Scott City
Jan. 28 – Liberal
Jan. 29 – Dodge City
Feb. 10 – Phillipsburg
Feb. 11 – Hays
Feb. 12 – Marysville
Feb. 13 – Atchison

More detailed information, including how to register at a preferred location and details about supporting sponsorships, is available at Further information also is available by contacting Rich Llewelyn at

Story by:
Mary Lou Peter
K-State Research and Extension

Registration due TODAY for the Animal Health Industry Insights seminar

The Master of Agribusiness program is hosting an Animal Health Industry Insights seminar by Sharon Benz, Food and Drug Administration, at noon Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the K-State Olathe Campus.
Benz is the director of the Division of Animal Feeds within the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. She is responsible for providing direction and oversight to the division, which monitors and sets standards for contaminants, approves food additives and oversees medicated feed and pet food programs. Prior to her appointment to director in 2004, Benz served as the team leader for the nutrition and labeling team. In preparation for her work with the Food and Drug Administration, Benz was employed by the National Academy of Sciences, Board on Agriculture and was responsible for the animal nutrition series bulletins on animal nutrient requirements. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science and doctorate from Virginia Tech. Her training is in ruminant nutrition and mineral metabolism and requirements.

The seminar is open to the public, but attendees must register by Oct. 15 and pay the $50 registration fee, which includes lunch.

For more information about the seminar contact Mary Bowen at 785-532-4435 or Update: Farm Bill updates and meetings galore to get in the know!


Dairy Margin Protection Program Webinar | October 28, 2014, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. A 1-hour webinar by Robin Reid, covering the Dairy MPP program for the 2014 Farm Bill. This presentation will give a comprehensive look at the new Dairy Margin Protection Program and how producers might benefit from it to manage risk on their operations. The workings of the program and tools available to make the sign-up decision will be presented.

2014 Kansas Income Tax Institute |  November 4
A two-day conference for tax professionals at 8 locations in Kansas, starting with Garden City on November 4.

2014 Kansas Crop Insurance Workshop | November 13
A one-day conference for farmers, crop insurance agents, and agricultural lenders. The Kansas session will be held in Salina on November 13.

MAST: Management Analysis & Strategic Thinking | November 18-19, 2014
Management, Analysis, and Strategic Thinking (MAST) is an interactive learning program designed for agricultural producers and agribusiness professionals to enhance and strengthen their farm management skills, equipping them to create a vision for their businesses and handle the challenges of the changing agricultural landscape.2014 Farm Bill logo

2014 Farm Bill Meetings | January 12 – February 13, 2015
There will be fifteen half-day meetings in Kansas to provide information on the decision for the 2014 Farm Bill. The first will be in Wichita, on January 12, 2015.

For a listing of other extension meetings taking place in Kansas, use this link. | Coming up: Republic: October 14 | Wells: October 15 | Minneapolis: October 29 |Gypsum: November 4 |Garden City: December 11


2014 Farm Bill Policy Page | Your guide to understanding the 2014 Farm Bill, with papers, presentations, decision tool and links.

OSU-KSU Decision Tool | An Excel spreadsheet decision tool developed by Oklahoma State University and K-State, to help make the decision between ARC and PLC from the 2014 Farm Bill.

Grain Outlook Radio Program |  Dan O’Brien remarks on the USDA’s grain stocks report out this week, as well as the upcoming USDA row crop production report, during his weekly segment on the grain markets…he also points to a recent hike in grain export business, helping to provide a floor under otherwise bearish markets.

Connecting Livestock Producers with Recent Economic Research (CLPER) |  Glynn Tonsor provides a newsletter to enhance the dissemination of information from peer-reviewed economic research articles to livestock industry decision makers.

Grain Outlook Newsletter |  “Soybean Market Outlook in Late September 2014” and “USDA September 30th Quarterly Stocks and Small Grains Summary”, by Dan O’Brien.

Crop Basis Maps |  GIS maps showing this week’s basis and deviation from 3 year average for corn, wheat, soybeans, and milo in the central Plains.

Updated Crop Basis Tool |  Providing the weekly basis (Wednesday close) for corn, soybeans, milo and winter wheat for approximately 800 locations across Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas Panhandle, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

New Farm Bill ToolRadio Interview |  Mykel Taylor announces that the decision-making tool created by Oklahoma State University and K-State for crop producers on the new farm program “safety net” options is now available for use…how to do so will be featured in a special webinar out of K-State taking place tomorrow, and she’ll have the details.

Ag Law Update– Radio Interview |  Iowa State University agricultural law specialist Roger McEowen covers several recent court decisions relevant to agricultural producers, including the ruling on a case over the validity of a farming partnership between parents and son, as perceived by the lending institution for both parties.

MYA Price Estimates Updated for ARC and PLC Commodity Programs |  Art Barnaby provides the MYA price estimates, updated for 2015 wheat, 2014 corn, 2014 sorghum, and 2014 soybeans.

USDA WASDE Quick Analysis Spreadsheet |  Dan O’Brien provides a spreadsheet with a brief look at the numbers from this week’s USDA WASDE supply and demand report.

Farm Bill Update Webinar Recording
A recording of the webinar on October 2, by Dr. Art Barnaby and Dr. Mykel Taylor the 2014 Farm Bill as well as the OSU-KSU decision tool is available now!
Mykel Taylor is an Extension Economist focused in the areas of crop marketing and food safety and labeling. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana and attended Montana State University majoring in Agribusiness Management. Her PhD in Economics is from North Carolina State University. Mykel has worked in extension positions at both Kansas State University and Washington State University. Some of her current research areas include measuring basis risk for cross-hedged commodities, implications of country of origin labeling on meat demand, and direct marketing strategies for urban crop and livestock farmers.Argentina farm - MAB brazilian cows

MAB Trip to South America
K-State’s Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program is offering travel to Brazil and Argentina to learn about the food and agriculture industry in South America. The trip includes visits to agricultural and food-related industries and guided sightseeing tours with free time to explore Buenos Aires, the waterfalls at Iguazu, and Sao Paulo. The tour (February 20 – March 7, 2015) is open to anyone with an interest in international agribusiness.
For information, visit: or contact Mary Bowen at 785-532-4435,



For more information about these items or anything else related to, contact Rich Llewelyn at 785.532.1504 or

Twitter: @AgManagerInfo  |  Facebook:

Report Projects Positive Outlook for Pork Producers and Consumers

Herd expansion could mean lower pork prices for consumers by the middle of next year.

The U.S. pork industry today is small by historic standards. But, signs of producers holding back more females to increase the breeding herd mean the industry is in the process of expanding, which could put more pounds of pork in grocery stores by the middle of next year.

“We continue to have historically high hog prices, as well as retail pork prices,” said Glynn Tonsor, livestock economist for K-State Research and Extension. “We also have improving production costs as grain prices are coming down. That’s sending a signal, an economic incentive, for pork producers to expand so they can sell more pigs at a positive dollar per head margin than they did last year.”

Information about the state of the U.S. pork industry was included in the quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service on Sept. 26. Tonsor said the report provides the best estimate of the current size of the industry and how large it will be in the future.

According to the report, the inventory of all hogs and pigs on Sept. 1, 2014 was 65.4 million head, which was 2 percent lower than a year ago but up 6 percent from June of this year. The breeding inventory was at 5.92 million head, up 2 percent from last year and up 1 percent from June. The market hog inventory was at 59.4 million head, down 3 percent from last year but 7 percent higher than it was in June.

Further, U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.89 million sows farrow, or have pigs, during the September through November 2014 quarter, which is up 4 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2013 and up slightly from 2012. A projected 2.87 million sows will farrow December through February 2015, up 4 percent from 2014 and up 3 percent from 2013.

A consumer focus

What does this expansion outlook mean for pork consumers? Tonsor said most likely around the middle of next year, retailers will see an increase in pork supplies coming from this expansion. An increase in supplies likely means cheaper pork prices for consumers.

“None of this is guaranteed, but our current estimate is that we’re going to have more sows, and therefore more pigs and more pork pounds that show up starting around April 2015,” he said. “There will be some relief in high prices (consumers) have been seeing for some time now. Most of these adjustments take a long time, not quite as long of a biological lag that we have in the cattle industry, but they still take time.”

Specifically, it would take in excess of eight months from starting the process of holding back females, to breeding them, to farrowing them, to weaning their pigs and feeding them to a finished market weight.

“The reason I highlight that is the tight pork supply situation we have today is here for the rest of 2014,” Tonsor said. “Couple that with strong meat demand in general, strong pork demand in particular, we’re probably going to have historically high pork prices the rest of 2014.”

One of the greatest challenges the U.S. pork industry has faced recently is PEDv, or porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Discovered in the United States for the first time in 2013, PEDv is a disease caused by a porcine coronavirus and can lead to vomiting and occasional diarrhea in sows and gilts and severe diarrhea and vomiting in nursing and recently weaned pigs, according to Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (

PEDv spreads quickly and can lead to severe sickness and death in pigs, although it is not a threat to food safety or humans. A Pork Checkoff report ( estimates the disease caused a loss of 7 million to 8 million pigs from June 2013 to April 2014.

“To the extent we have additional concerns about PEDv, that could mute some of this increase in pork production,” Tonsor said.

PEDv has reduced the amount of pigs weaned per litter, he said, and the net effect is fewer market hogs in the United States, therefore fewer pork pounds produced. In the past, the virus has hit swine herds worse from November through April. Although vaccines have been developed recently, it’s unknown if producers can battle the virus more effectively through the coming winter with use of the new vaccines.

Pork demand still high

Despite the recent and current tight supply situation caused in a large part by PEDv, Tonsor said retail pork demand has been strong. Given the pounds produced and consumed in the United States recently, the retail price realized was higher than most expected.

“The second quarter of 2014 was actually the best quarter for retail pork demand, the way I estimate it, in more than 10 years,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that’s a positive signal for the entire pork industry, because the public was willing to pay more for those reduced pork pounds than we expected.”

“The U.S. public sees more value in those (pork) products,” he continued. “Maybe the products are more convenient. Maybe the consumers were less sensitive to the price or had improving incomes. Probably some of all of the above is actually truth, which led to this positive demand story.”

Access the full Sept. 26 quarterly hogs and pigs report at


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by:

Katie Allen
K-State Research and Extension

For more information:
Glynn Tonsor – or 785-532-1518

The K-State College of Agriculture presents the latest edition of Ag News Now

· NAMA, ACT and Ag Econ Club are hosting CHIPS, DIPS AND INTERNSHIPS – Internship Panel TONIGHT!! 7:30 PM, Waters Hall room 328.
· Kansas Livestock Association looking for intern/part-time assistant
· Study Abroad Opportunities info sessions planned
· Majors, Minors and More Fair coming up on Oct. 15!

Go to for details.

Student event update: NAMA meeting tonight, Monday, September 29

TODAY – September 29 7:30 p.m. Chips, Dips and Internships; a panel of students talking about their internships. We are collaborating with ACT and AgEcon club. There will be two students from each club on the panel and we plan to recognize all students in our 3 clubs that had an internship over the summer. Of course there will be chips and dip at the event because they are delicious and it rhymes so well with internships! 328 Waters Hall.

Club Meetings – Twice a month, on set Mondays at 7:30

NAMAAt our student chapter meetings, guest speakers provide valuable insight on a variety of topics including:

  • Career Development
  • Marketing
  • Motivation
  • Research and Development
  • Personal Advancement
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Sales

To learn about upcoming meetings:

-Like our page on Facebook – Follow us on Twitter @KansasStateNAMA – For any questions or if you would like to be added to the listserv please contact: Marie Annexstad:


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