Monthly Archives: September 2014

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:

K-State agricultural economist to discuss crop production, conservation on the farm

Jason Bergtold, associate professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University, will give a public lecture at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in 231 Ackert Hall.

Bergtold will discuss balancing economics, environmental stewardship and crop production risk on Kansas farms. His talk is being presented for students participating in the capstone course of the natural resources and environmental science secondary major and is open to the general public as part of the Natural Resources and Environmental Science Seminar Series. Undergraduate students interested in natural resources, environmental science and sustainability issues are especially encouraged to attend.

The natural resources and environmental science secondary major and its seminar series is generously supported by the Office of the Provost, College of Agriculture, College of Arts & Sciences, and the biological and agricultural engineering department.

By: Shawn Hutchinson

As Winter Wheat Insurance Deadline Approaches, Art Barnaby suggests that producers consider SCO

The deadline to insure the 2015 winter wheat crop is Sept. 30, and as producers consider their coverage, they might also want to enroll in the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The SCO, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a new crop insurance option that provides additional coverage for a portion of a farmer’s underlying crop insurance policy deductible on a countywide plan. Farmers in nearly all Kansas counties would be eligible to enroll (see map for availability at

Art Barnaby, risk management specialist for K-State Research and Extension, recommends that eligible producers add the SCO to their coverage, because they have the option to cancel it prior to the wheat insurance acreage reporting date at no cost.

“In the meantime over the next month, you’ll probably get more clarity on which Farm Service Agency (FSA) program you’re going to select, PLC (Price Loss Coverage) or ARC (Agricultural Risk Coverage),” he said. “It gives you more time to make the decision. From a farmer’s perspective, I would list (SCO) regardless of the coverage level I’m buying at, with the idea that I may decide to go ahead and cancel it later.”

The SCO begins to pay when county revenue falls below 86 percent of its expected level. The full amount of the SCO coverage is paid out when the county average revenue falls to the coverage level percent of the underlying policy.

Barnaby said as an example, consider that a producer buys 80 percent coverage in his or her underlying policy.

“Six percent of the expected revenue is covered (by the SCO), and on top of that, it’s not triggered by your individual loss,” he said. “It’s triggered only at the county level. If the county has a big enough loss, you could get a payment that is six points higher than what you’re getting from your individual coverage. On the other hand, you could have a total loss, and you would collect nothing from SCO, because the county didn’t trigger.”

If a producer chooses 70 percent coverage, he or she will have more coverage over the county yield trigger, he said, because that would be 86 percent down to 70 percent covered by the SCO.

Producers who sign up for the SCO might benefit from remaining enrolled if they have a low actual production history (APH) yield but think the county loss will likely be greater, Barnaby said. Producers will have until later this winter to decide if they want to enroll in PLC or ARC. If they decide to enroll in ARC for winter wheat, they are not eligible to be covered by the SCO.

“You can substitute for SCO by simply going to an enterprise unit and buying up on the coverage level,” Barnaby said. “You can buy an 80 percent enterprise unit for the same premium or less than you can buy 70 percent optional units in most counties and in most farm situations.”

If producers don’t cancel the SCO for their winter wheat before acreage reporting date and do sign up for ARC down the road, they will owe 20 percent of the SCO premium to cover administrative expenses.

For more information about the SCO, visit the USDA’s website ( The USDA’s FSA also has more information online ( about PLC and ARC.

Sidebar: Excel-Based Farm Program Decision Aid Available

 A computer decision aid released this week is meant to help farmers decide on the best option for participation in 2014 Farm Bill commodity programs—ARC, PLC and SCO. The Excel-based computer aid will allow farmers to evaluate programs and select the option that best fits their farm.

Using the tool, farmers can enter their crop acres and yields, and the program will calculate their new crop base acre allocation and program yield. Results, presented in both current and updated base acres, can help farmers determine if updating their base acres with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is to their advantage.

The model estimates the future yields based on trend yields, but farmers have the option to override these values and can re-run it with different sets of assumptions about prices and their yields.

Learn more about the program and access it online on K-State’s Ag Manager website (

This decision tool was developed by Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University, with funding from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Southern Risk Management Education Center and K-State Research and Extension.

The latest from OSU-KSU Farm Bill Decision Tool and a KSU Farm Bill Webinar, Thursday, Oct. 2

Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics is hosting a webinar featuring Dr. Art Barnaby and Dr. Mykel Taylor. The webinar, “The Agricultural Act of 2014: An Update”, will stream on October 2, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. CDT and will include an hour-long presentation, followed by questions.

If interested, register right away at! Only the first 200 to register have access to the presentation. Registration closes October 1, 2014, at 4:00 p.m. CDT.  Contact Rich Llewelyn at or 785-532-1504 if you are unable to register with a credit card or if you have any other issues with registration. Registration fee is $25.

Unable to participate on October 2? No worries! A recording of the webinar is available for $25.

Once registered, instructions for login will be sent. For those opting to receive a recorded copy, instructions to access the recording will be sent out following the webinar.

Keeping an Eye on Ukraine, Other Black Sea Countries’ Wheat Markets

The growing importance of wheat production from Black Sea-area countries Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan on the world market has Daniel O’Brien keeping a close watch on geopolitical events there – and he’s encouraging U.S. wheat producers to do the same.

Wheat and feed grain exports from those three countries have been growing since the mid-1990s, said O’Brien, an agricultural economist with Kansas State University. Speaking at K-State’s recent Risk and Profit Conference in Manhattan, O’Brien said world wheat prices initially seemed mostly unaffected in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine which developed early this year. But the wheat market in recent months has been put on edge by developments of the conflict.

O’Brien and North Dakota State University agricultural economist, Frayne Olson have been tracking world hard red winter and hard red spring wheat markets, trying to determine the inter-relationships of Black Sea region country wheat export prices, both within the Black Sea region and with major world wheat exporters, including U.S. wheat.

What they found was that changes in U.S. hard red winter wheat prices most closely associated with prices in Russia, but to a lesser degree with wheat prices in Ukraine, Australia, Germany, and with the prices of other major U.S. wheat classes.

“Daily and weekly prices on world wheat markets typically work or move together, but the closeness or co-integrated nature of their co-movements vary among classes and export supplying countries,” O’Brien said. He noted that the Black Sea-area countries’ advantage in world wheat trade is their geographic proximity to buyers in North Africa and Middle Eastern countries, which translates to lower shipping costs. Some of those countries, including Egypt and Nigeria, are also significant potential buyers of U.S wheat.

He noted that the main Ukrainian port for wheat export shipments is Odessa: “If Ukraine lost control (of that port) it could be devastating for that country’s wheat market.”

Physical differences in wheat-by-class are often reflected in U.S. and world cash wheat prices, he said, noting that different types of wheat lend themselves to use in different products – for example durum wheat is best for making pasta and hard red winter is best for certain bread products – but there is only so much blending you can do.

In their analysis, O’Brien and Olson found that:

  • Black Sea region wheat prices display some degree of price interrelatedness for milling quality wheat, but not complete uniformity.
  • Ukraine milling wheat export prices show evidence of being co-integrated with German milling wheat export prices, but less so with those of Russia.
  • Russian milling wheat export prices appear to be co-integrated with both U.S. hard red winter and soft red winter wheat export prices, but less so with those of Ukraine.
  • Kazakhstan milling wheat export prices show evidence of being somewhat associated with Russian milling wheat export prices, but not so close with those of Ukraine.

O’Brien noted that a major difficulty in attempting to thoroughly analyze the wheat market in Black Sea-area countries stems from gaps in price and other grain market information for countries in that region.

O’Brien’s presentation and others from the 2014 Risk and Profit Conference are available 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 in Manhattan.

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

For more information:
Daniel O’Brien – 785-462-6281 or

World-renowned Kevin Saunders visits Dr. Biere’s Orientation Class


A group of the students from the orientation class pose with Kevin Saunders and Dr. Biere for a group picture.

Kevin Saunders, originally from Smith Center, Kan., presented to Dr. Arlo Biere’s orientation class, which is specifically for freshmen, on September 17. Saunders’ powerful message to the class came from years of dealing with challenges and adversity.

Saunders is a alumnus of Kansas State University where, in the late 1970s, Dr. Biere was his academic advisor. Shortly after his college graduation, Saunders found himself in a cush job with Federal Government, which he noted would have allowed him to eat lobster and steak on a daily basis. His life took an abrupt change of path in April of 1981, with the explosion of the grain elevator he was inspecting in Corpus Christi, Texas. He recalled that day to the class: how the head-splitting sound could not be put into words, and how he only had the time to see his supervisor fall to the floor before Saunders was thrown 300 feet, over a two-story building and to the concrete parking lot. With a severed spinal cord and his body nearly snapped in two at the chest, paramedics nearly left Saunders there on the ground due to a lack of ambulances. He was transported to the hospital in a station wagon with a blown off door as a gurney.

The recovery that Saunders made after the explosion was the focus of his presentation to the class. Immediately after, he had seen no prospect of living up to the life he had before, in which he had been very active in athletics. It was a few of his friends that finally helped him take a proactive step in his life by encouraging him to begin with lifting weights. In 1984, Saunders was encouraged to enter the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, a race that 50,000 participate in annually. He arrived in his hospital-issued wheelchair with racquetball gloves to protect his hands, was left in the dust by fellow wheelchair competitors and was never allowed to finish the race. Following that race, Saunders trained often and saw many successes in the Olympics, became a member of the President’s Board on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; was named the World’s Greatest Wheelchair Athlete, and even recently won the USA Track and Field Half-Marathon in Houston. The list of challenges that Saunders overcame and the victories that ensued is very long and impressive.

Even with all of the world attention that he has gained, he still cares a great deal for his Alma Mater. Saunders visits the Wildcat football team often, as he is its Motivational Coach. He also makes sure to visit his college advisor, Dr. Biere, whenever he is in town. Biere hoped the class would take away encouragement to be the best that each of them can be from Saunders’ lecture to the class.

To read additional information about Kevin Saunders, check out his website or look at the feature article in the most recent edition of the Exchange


Saunders challenges the class to think about future dreams and visions, and provides encouragement.

Best Water Management Under Limited Irrigation


When it comes to managing limited irrigation for crops, research suggests pumping more intensively on fewer acres might show more value than spreading out the irrigation over more acres.

Getting the most value out of irrigation water is likely on the minds of many Kansas farmers. As groundwater supplies diminish, pumping rates decline and talk of local water conservation policies surface in the state, these farmers face even more difficulty in determining how to best manage limited water.

Nathan Hendricks, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University, recently examined how the value of agricultural production declines as water availability decreases. He specifically looked at two general management methods to determine which is more effective: deficit irrigation on a larger number of acres versus more intense irrigation on a smaller number of acres.
Intensive focus on fewer acres seems to have the upper hand

To answer the question of which is better, pumping more intensively on fewer acres versus less intensively on more acres, Hendricks said he first looked at the basic economics. The question only relates to those facing limited irrigation, not those farmers who currently have limited authorized irrigated acreage and can fully irrigate that acreage.

“The simple intuition is you first want to decrease intensity and maintain acreage if a 1 percent reduction in intensity decreases returns by less than 1 percent,” Hendricks said. “But, eventually as irrigation becomes more limited, you want to end up at an intensity level such that if you decreased (irrigation) intensity by 1 percent, you would decrease your returns by 1 percent.”

“The economically optimal place is where either reducing intensity or reducing acreage gives you the same loss in return,” he continued. “This is constant returns to intensity. Once you have reached this intensity, then it is optimal to further reduce irrigation water use by reducing acreage.”

A county-level data analysis of crop production in the Great Plains and Corn Belt showed losing about 1 to 1.5 inches of precipitation short of meeting the evapotranspiration demand for crops, including corn, is about the place where water hits this constant returns to intensity, Hendricks said.

Crop water need, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization, is the depth of water required to meet the water loss through evapotranspiration—loss of water through evaporation from the soil and transpiration from the plant. Evapotranspiration helps determine how much water is needed by rain or irrigation for crops such as corn.

“One of the key things that surprised me when I did the analysis is that’s quite a bit of water per acre only being 1 to 1.5 inches short of meeting evapotranspiration demand for corn,” Hendricks said. “It suggests that a pretty intense level of irrigation is optimal even when water is severely limited. As we’re seeing dwindling water supplies, it will likely be optimal to start reducing irrigated acreage relatively soon.”

To further illustrate, Hendricks gave an example where a farmer may choose to cut his or her irrigated acreage almost in half—say 120 acres of limited irrigated corn (irrigated at half of corn evapotranspiration demand) down to 66 acres of more intensely irrigated corn (irrigated at optimal constant returns to intensity). That farmer originally had 40 acres of dryland corn, but now tacks on the remaining 54 acres of those 120 acres formerly under limited irrigation, to now equal 94 total dryland acres.

“Before, you were only doing half of corn evapotranspiration demand,” he said. “It could be that you’re planting wheat to do that, or whatever other crops, but the idea is that you’re doing a limited intensity over a large acreage. What’s optimal, according to my numbers, is that you would more intensively irrigate, but you would reduce your irrigated acreage. If you do this, you could pay another $4,260 in rent over the entire 160 acres. You’re getting a lot more value by irrigating a limited area at a more intense level.”

Irrigators should crunch their own numbers to figure out when they are getting below this constant returns to intensity level, Hendricks said, and then they would likely be better off reducing irrigated acreage and increasing intensity.

The role of LEMAs and irrigation timing

Policy-wise in Kansas, the role of local enhanced management areas (LEMAs) comes into play, if groundwater management districts (GMDs) decide to establish their own groundwater conservation policies. LEMAs are water conservation plans voluntarily implemented by agricultural producers, and made possible by a bill passed in the Kansas Legislature in 2012. The first LEMA in Kansas, the Sheridan-Thomas County LEMA, or Sheridan 6 LEMA, is in the northwest part of the state.

“As people are talking about LEMAs, they’re thinking about reducing their water use,” Hendricks said. “How are they going to adapt to less water? How can they get the most value if they’re going to limit the amount of water? How will the value of agricultural production decline if they restrict their water use?”

In addition to examining how LEMAs could further affect limited irrigation, Hendricks said he would like to research further how farmers could time irrigation to get more value out of it. Perhaps they could reduce intensity more just by optimally timing irrigation.

Hendricks said he wants to know how much water farmers could reduce before they see a 10 percent decrease in water use decreasing returns by 10 percent.

“At some point we’re going to hit that, my analysis suggests,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure where, but that’s certainly a conversation for producers. It’s this idea that we can decrease water use without a huge loss in returns. Then at some point it starts to decline at a linear rate.”

Information for this story was presented at the 2014 K-State Risk and Profit Conference in Manhattan Aug. 21-22. View details of Hendricks’ presentation at K-State’s Ag Manager website
For more information:
Nathan Hendricks,, 785-532-3740

Story by:
Katie Allen
K-State Research and Extension

Jorge Gattini, Paraguay’s Minister of Agriculture, to Receive K-State Alumni Honor at Department of Agricultural Economics Banquet

The Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics has announced that it will present an award to someone who has made his mark in Manhattan and abroad.

Jorge Gattini, Minister of Agriculture in Paraguay, will receive the department’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is given to an alumnus who has demonstrated significant professional achievement related to agricultural economics or agribusiness.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24 Gattini will give a lecture about “Agriculture, Agribusiness and Rural Development in Paraguay.” The lecture will be at 2:30 p.m. in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union.

Gattini will be honored at the department’s alumni and scholarship banquet on Friday, Sept. 26 at the Kansas Farm Bureau building in Manhattan, Kansas.

Gattini was sworn in to his position as the Paraguay Minister of Agriculture on Aug. 15, 2013 under President Horacio Cartes. He has held several positions mostly in the agriculture ministry’s marketing department under three agriculture ministers.

He earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at K-State in 1998, and a master’s degree in applied economic environmental at the University of London, Imperial College.

Gattini came to Manhattan from Paraguay in a cultural exchange program with Kansas 4-H, staying for about a month during the early 1990s. The Kansas Paraguay Partners program was an international volunteer organization promoting people-to-people exchanges between Paraguayans and Kansans.

Allen Featherstone, department head and professor of agricultural economics, served as Gattini’s professor during his graduate school work and oversaw his master’s program, where he studied “The Agricultural Financial System in Paraguay.” The purpose of the project was to set up a financial system to allow farmers to get credit for purchasing inputs.

“I always knew Jorge would excel in his future just from the interactions that I had with him as a student,” Featherstone said. “We are honored that he is coming back to visit the department and to accept this award.”

Gattini will also give a guest lecture on the Manhattan campus.

Student event update: NAMA meeting tonight, Monday, September 15

TODAY – September 15 7:30 p.m. | Waters 336 | Professional panel on the topic of tips for interviews and elevator speeches, with representatives from Agri-Gold, Kansas Department of Agriculture and Osborn Barr.

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! Leasure Hall lecture room

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: