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Kansas and National Ag policy
Dr. Victor Martin

The Drought Monitor shows essentially the same pattern as last week with most of Kansas at least abnormally dry with the area of moderate drought creeping eastward towards us. The exception is the tier of counties along the Oklahoma border who with significant rains are out of dry conditions. This improvement is as close to us as Pratt County. There is a fairly decent chance of some precipitation this week along with cooler temperatures which should help the wheat a bit. On the plus side, fall harvest is pretty well complete. The six to ten-day outlook (Nov. 11 to 15) indicates below normal precipitation for Western Kansas, normal here and slightly above normal for the eastern third of the state. Temperatures should be about normal. Remember that normal for this time of year is only about one inch for the month. Looking out eight to 14 days (Nov. 13-19) indicates above normal temperatures here and below normal precipitation for the state. Today, we often think Kansas has little effect on national politics and policy. However, with the passing of Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, let’s take a moment to reflect of his impact, and therefore the impact of Kansas on federal agricultural policy. 

Dr. Flinchbaugh died this past Monday. Most involved in agriculture know who he was and his impact on the country’s agriculture policy. He spent his career in the Department of Ag. Economics at K-State and was still teaching as a Professor Emeritus for the department. His career spanned almost 50 years in Manhattan. What made him such a towering figure for Kansas and national agriculture?

• He was involved in Farm Bills in some form or fashion since 1968 and as time went on he was more and more influential. With Pat Roberts tapping him for help with the 1996 Farm Bill he was largely responsible for what is in Freedom To Farm which rethought Federal Farm Policy and dramatically changed not just policy but production agriculture for the last twenty-five years.  

• He served as an adviser across party lines from Secretaries of Agriculture, the Senate and house to various governors. And it was than simply economic policy but food policy, a major part of any Farm Bill.

• His influence extends to the thousands of students he trained over the decades at K-State. Also influential were the numerous speeches he gave at various events for years.

• Finally, maybe his greatest contribution to agriculture was stressing the need to work across party lines for the good of agriculture. And telling people what he thought they needed to hear. Not what they wanted to hear. It was more than helping people to think. He made them think.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.