Current US Congressman Roger Marshall (Kansas 1st District, R-El Dorado) spoke with roughly 15 farmers in attendance at Chanute’s Canville Seed Service on Friday afternoon, talking about current issues affecting farmers in Kansas.
Marshall has announced that he is running for the US Senate seat vacated by Pat Roberts.
Also on hand was the President of Kansas Farm Bureau, Richard Felts. Kansas Farm Bureau officially endorsed Marshall in April as he has been a member of the US House Agriculture Committee.
According to Felts, one of the biggest issues farmers in the state are facing has been the cancellation of orders for the product Dicamba by the Environmental Protection Agency on June 8.
Seed and chemical stores cannot receive any of the product, but can sell their existing stock. However, farmers can no longer use the product after July 31.
The product is used to kill broadleaf weeds and can be used as a pre- or post-emergent chemical.
“Basically what happened were a few incompetent individuals in the State of Arkansas used this product, it washed downstream and killed some people’s apple orchards. So the State of California decided to get involved to ban the product,” Marshall said. “This affects our soybean farmers greatly because they use it on up to 95 percent of their crops.”
Not only that, Felts said, “Farmers who use this product see about a 40 percent difference in the yields their soybean crops produce. Take it away and there goes a large chunk of our soybean production.”
The Kansas Department of Agriculture remains in discussion with the EPA trying to find a resolution.
Marshall said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major problems with the trade industry.
“China, Japan, South Korea, all of our trading of agricultural products has gone down since the pandemic has taken place. Despite what you hear on the news, there is still trading taking place between us and China,” Marshall said. “China may say they halt it, but our products are traveling by ship through the rivers of China.”
Marshall went on to say the world cannot make it without the US beef production.
“We’ve taught everyone how to grow wheat and other things. But we have never told the world how to grow their beef,” he said. “Our beef is still one of the most sought after products in the world.”
The owner of Canville Seed Service, Cody Moyer, said another issue affecting farmers in southeast Kansas is broadband internet and the lack of service for cell phones.
“I am fortunate to have a tower right here that I can plug into, but my cellular service is horrible. A lot of times my pickup truck is my office. I have a good office right here, my WiFi works great, but it’s hard to take phone calls at this location. Someone will call me up and I have to run up the road just to speak with them. People want invoices sent to them via cell phone and I have to drive down the road just to make it happen,” he said. “Our service is spotty, but I need it to be reliable for this business to run smoothly.”
Felts said the main problem was needing to get the small phone companies to take our money seriously.
“There is a whole lot of difference in the value of the dollar from one company to another. Services cost much more with the small service providers than they do with the big corporations,” Felt said. “We need to make it where the small companies can thrive in rural Kansas.”
“Companies like Verizon do not care about us,” he said. “There simply isn’t enough money in the rural areas of the state for them to want to put up towers and make our communication systems reliable.”
Moyer said that he left the area for six years before an opportunity arose in Chanute for him to get back in the agricultural business.
“I get here and the first thing I notice is (area) hospitals closing. If my family needs it, can I be assured that we will have proper healthcare? That should be the least of our worries, but it is a major concern for me,” he said.
Marshall said the most important thing was getting the economy up and running.
“We have to get past this pandemic and get our trading and exports back up. A thriving economy will make sure that we have all the things that we need,” Marshall said. “When the pandemic first began, I kept a close eye on our meatpacking plants. All around the country we could see these problems arising. I get a call from a doctor in Topeka who said ‘you won’t believe this, but we have 25 COVID-19 cases at this one meat packing plant.’ I sent a text to the White House and within 48 hours we had three huge testing sites outside of these plants. Our production never dropped below 50 percent, whereas around the country several shut down completely. I am proud to say right now all meatpacking plants are running at 95 percent or higher.
“President Donald Trump sent in two Blackhawk helicopters to our meatpacking plants full of Personal Protective Equipment and testing for those stations and sent in more for hospitals throughout the state.”
Moyer said the biggest thing that happened on Friday was ensuring that southeast Kansas has a voice.
“I don’t care who I have to call in, my main goal is just to make sure we have a voice, and the citizens here are heard,” he said. “Sometimes you have to put a little pressure on them to make them hear you. I will do anything I can do to help our citizens.”