Monthly Archives: May 2015

Blue Key awards scholarships to two agricultural economics students


The Kansas State University chapter of Blue Key, a senior honors society, recognized students for excellence in leadership, scholarship, and service. Two agricultural economics students displayed this great potential in their university and community contributions.

Jeffery Hadachek, sophomore in agricultural economics, received the Robert Lewis Sophomore Leadership Award. Hadachek was one of three students to receive an award for outstanding leadership. Winners of this award display great potential for future leadership roles and service to the university.

Youwei Yang

Youwei Yang

Youwei Yang, senior in agricultural economics, received the Chester E. Peters Student Development Award. The winners of the Chester E Peters scholarship have demonstrated high quality of leadership, service and moral integrity, as well as encouraged and supported fellow students at the university.

K-State’s chapter awards more than $20,000 in scholarships each year to honor student excellence in service, scholarship and leadership.

Read more about the Blue Key scholarships winners.

Article by Darrah Tinkler, Kansas State University


Abigail Friesen earns honorable mention for Kirmser Undergraduate Research

kirmser (1)

Abigail Friesen, freshman in agricultural economics, received honorable mention for her essay: “Informative report: Immigration and job opportunities” at the Kirmser Award ceremony on May 13. Friesen wrote the essay for her expository writing class, under the instruction of Erica Ruscio, Master’s student in English.

The Kirmser Undergraduate Research Awards recognize the work of undergraduate student scholarship. The award is presented by K-State Libraries and possible through a gift made by Philip and Jeune Kirmser. Sandy Chastan, the Kirmser’s daughter, made an appearance at the ceremony.

Kirmser Awards are divided into three categories and awarded to students engaging in academic research and inquiry. The three categories for research awards are: group work, individual freshman projects, and non-freshman individual projects.
Eighteen students won awards or received mention at the Kirmser Undergraduate
Research Award Ceremony.

Read more about Kirmser Undergraduate Research Award honors.

Article and picture provided by K-State Media Services.

Study: Spring heat more damaging to wheat than fall freeze

Scientists need to develop new heat-resistant wheat varieties.

A team of researchers including a Kansas State University professor has released results of a study that measures the effects of climate change on wheat yields, findings that may have implications for future wheat breeding efforts worldwide.

Andrew BarkleyAgricultural economist Andrew Barkley, who has studied wheat for nearly 30 years, said that the team’s major finding is that heat appears to be more damaging to wheat yields than freezing temperatures.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that temperatures will increase in the future,” Barkley said. “What we’ve done here is estimate the impact of what might happen to wheat yields if temperatures increase in Kansas.”

In Kansas, the country’s most productive wheat-growing state, farmers plant winter wheat in the fall and harvest it in late spring and early summer. The nine-month growing season makes the crop susceptible to many temperature swings.

If temperatures continue to rise, as climate patterns currently suggest, wheat yields may be damaged in the spring when flowering and grain filling occur.

“In Kansas, wheat is extremely important economically; crops are worth up to $3 billion per year just in Kansas, and we produce about 15 percent of the wheat that is grown in the U.S.,” Barkley said. “So we’re interested in wheat for several reasons, but with climate change, we’re concerned about the potential impact of that on wheat in the future.”

Barkley added that more recently released varieties of wheat – which are normally higher yielding – are less heat resistant than older varieties. For farmers, it could force a decision about using those pest- or disease-resistant varieties and accepting the risk of losing yield to high spring temperatures.

“Our research points to developing genetic strategies to identify the exact genes and DNA that will help us change the wheat plant so that it can accommodate for heat,” Barkley said. “At this time, the [Kansas State] agronomy department is working on that exact thing.”

From 1985 to 2013, breakthroughs in wheat breeding helped Kansas farmers improve their yields by 27 percent, according to Barkley. “We’ve had huge success in increasing the amount of food we get from each acre in Kansas,” he said.

Knowing that rising temperatures threaten that success, though, is “good news, in a way,” Barkley noted.wht4

“As we progress, we are going to be able to deal with these changes in temperature as they arise. Climate change is a slow process, and wheat breeding also is relatively slow, but there’s been major advances in wheat breeding, so that we can change the average time it takes to develop a new variety from over 10 years to about half that time. We really have a positive forecast of changing these wheat varieties to accommodate for the heat.”

The study is published in the May 11 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( Other researchers on the team include Jesse Tack of Mississippi State University and Lawton Lanier Nalley of the University of Arkansas.

Written by: Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension,, 785-532-1160

For more information: Andrew Barkley, or 785-477-1174


Report from Tonsor and Schroeder finds mandatory COOL causes meat industry, consumer losses

Based on a study commissioned by the USDA, economists report that compliance leads to billions in net economic costs

Any policy that results in higher costs of compliance without a quantifiable benefit will likely have an adverse economic impact, and recent research shows mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or MCOOL, is one such policy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assigned the research, based on a requirement in the 2014 Farm Bill to quantify the market impacts of MCOOL. The requirement included studying both the implementation of MCOOL in 2009 and a revision of the policy in 2013.

Agricultural economists Glynn Tonsor and Ted Schroeder from Kansas State University and Joe Parcell from the University of Missouri completed the research and issued the full report ( to government officials May 1.

The researchers found no evidence of meat demand increases for MCOOL covered products—those products sold at retail locations such as supermarkets. Because general meat demand has not increased, and the meat industry as a whole has experienced lower quantities and higher costs to implement the additional labeling procedures, MCOOL has led to net economic losses.

Industry stakeholders and consumers negatively impacted

Tonsor said the research involved compiling literature from MCOOL studies and other non-peered reviewed information such as comments regarding cost impacts. The researchers used economic models to quantify price and meat quantity estimates over the next 10 years based on the 2009 and 2013 rulings. They compared those findings to 2008, which provided estimates if MCOOL had never occurred.

“We estimated the beef industry’s 2009 impact was an economic loss of $8.07 billion over 10 years,” Tonsor said. “For the pork industry, it’s a $1.31 billion loss.”

labelTonsor pointed out that approximately 16 percent of pork and about one-third of beef production is covered by MCOOL, as some products such as those sold in restaurants are not required to bear the label. MCOOL covered beef would have to see at least a 6.8 percent increase and covered pork a 5.6 percent increase in demand to avoid an adverse economic impact.

Results also showed consumers to experience net losses—$5.98 billion for beef and $1.79 billion for pork—over 10 years due to higher retail prices and lower retail quantities available every year.

The researchers had to study 2013 separately because the MCOOL policy changed. The 2009 ruling led to labels such as “Product of U.S. and Canada” showing up on a package of beef, for example. The 2013 ruling required that same package to read more specifically, “Born in Canada, Raised and Slaughtered in the U.S.”

“We added the specificity of ‘Born, Raised and Slaughtered’ stages in 2013, which means additional costs with additional precision,” Tonsor said. “But, it’s not the same level of costs as we had the first round in 2009. There’s an incremental additional cost, but it isn’t as large as the original cost to be in compliance.”

The additional impact of the 2013 rule was another $494 million loss to the beef industry and $403 million loss to the pork industry over 10 years. Demand increases would need to be at least another 0.4 percent for beef and 1.6 percent for pork on top of the 2009 estimates to avoid an adverse economic impact.

Consumer losses were another $378 million for beef and $428 million for pork based on the 2013 revision.

The poultry industry, he said, was the only one to show a gain. Those gains for 10 years were $753 million for 2009 and an incremental addition of $67 million for 2013. The gains, however, were narrow compared to the billions in losses to the beef and pork sectors that mean a total loss for the meat industry as a whole.

“The main reason is (the poultry sector) doesn’t have the same cost of compliance, so at the retail level there is some shift away from more expensive beef and pork prices over to poultry products,” Tonsor said. “That serves as a pull for more production on the poultry side, and the poultry industry benefits.”

What the future has in store

The World Trade Organization is expected to make an announcement later this month about the future of MCOOL. Some groups and political leaders believe the USDA should repeal MCOOL, while others advocate that the United States has the right to label origin on foods sold in the country.

Tonsor said another approach is to make the policy voluntary.

“Our report and the literature synthesis in it points to a voluntary approach being better,” he said. “Watching this situation, I agree that voluntary labeling would be an improvement from where we are now. It’s hard for me to say if politically that is where we will be a year from now or three years from now.”

To access the full report, visit A video interview with Tonsor is available on the K-State Research and Extension YouTube page (

Story by: Katie Allen, K-State Research and Extension – or 785-532-1162

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

This news release from K-State Research and Extension is posted at

Senior Gylee Martin represents Alpha Zeta at National Agricultural Leadership Conference and Biennial Conclave

Alpha Zeta Chapter brings home national awards

The Alpha Zeta Agriculture Honorary Fraternity at K-State received recognition at the National Agricultural Leadership Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The honorary was named the 2015 Rising Star, which is an award that honors an up-and-coming chapter that is dedicated to implementing new ideas and growing their members professionally and personally.

K-State’s Alpha Zeta chancellor Kelsie Hoss was named the Alpha Zeta Chancellor of the Year. This national recognition is awarded to a university chapter chancellor who exhibits exceptional leadership skills in guiding his or her chapter. Hoss worked tirelessly over the past year to promote Alpha Zeta at K-State and its programming. She guided the chapter through changes in chapter admittance policy and helped initiate Alpha Zeta’s newest philanthropy, Ask A Farmer week. Her efforts have earned her the title of National Chancellor of the Year and have laid a foundation for future K-State Alpha Zeta chapters to build on.

Gylee Martin 1Yuda Ou, senior in food science, and Gylee Martin, a senior in agricultural economics, represented the K-State Alpha Zeta chapter at the National Agricultural Leadership Conference and Biennial Conclave. K-State alumnus, Jackie Mundt, was named the 2015 High Chancellor replacing the 2014 High Chancellor, Kayle Robben, who also is a K-State alumnus.

Alpha Zeta, formed in 1897 at Ohio State University is a professional organization of men and women whose educational and career objectives fall within the field of agriculture and natural resources. Members of the organization strive to develop and promote leadership based on common values and integrity.

The Kansas State University chapter of Alpha Zeta is dedicated to focusing on education and service holding events such as a yearly university-wide speaker and Ask a Farmer week. For more information about Alpha Zeta or the events it sponsors, please contact Chancellor Elizabeth Stone,

By Maggie Seiler