Third District Congressman Kevin Yoder was quite a ways from his usual eastern Kansas stomping ground Thursday morning, but having grown up on a farm in Reno County, the Overland Park Republican said he understands the needs of rural communities.
Yoder made a stop in Great Bend Thursday while on a agriculture tour of Kansas. He dropped in on the Chamber of Commerce coffee at the Reserves at Trail Ridge apartments.
“I have a special place in my heart for agriculture,” he said.
On Wednesday, he stopped at Halstead for a meeting of the Equus Beds Groundwater Management District, and visited a massive outdoor pile of wheat near Hutchinson and the Dairy Farmers of America Plant in Garden City. He was headed to Manhattan for the Kansas Governor’s Ag Summit and the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center after the coffee Thursday.
“Agriculture has had some difficulties in the past few years,” said Yoder, who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. In the last four years, net farm income has dropped by half from $120 billion nationally, and crop insurance and other farm programs must be preserved.
Improving this important segment of the economy requires increasing trade, opening new markets like China and tackling water shortages. This is key as the Trump administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. The United States definitely doesn’t want to weaken its position with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico.
But, “it’s important to know the issues important to all Kansans,” he said. “I want to be aware of the challenges people face.”
Rural areas face a dwindling and aging population. Housing is needed to attract and keep people, and Yoder said it has been a pleasure working with Great Bend officials on tax credit programs for facilities like Trail Ridge.
In addition, hospitals and nursing facilities are needed to meet the full spectrum of health care needs. The health care debate has gotten bogged down in partisan bickering, Yoder said.
Yoder said he knows Great Bend native and First District Congressman Roger Marshall well. With only four districts, Kansas has a small delegation and it is important for all of the representatives to work together.
Yoder represents Johnson and Wyandotte counties, and the northeast corner of Miami County. He has served on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture since he was first elected in 2010, which is the committee responsible for funding and oversight of United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and other ag-related government agencies. He’s also the co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Beef Caucus with Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
He serves as the chairman of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee and on the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.
He is a fifth-generation Kansan and grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Reno County. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas where he received degrees in political science, English and law. He and his family live in Overland Park.