Delegation from Ukraine learns about U.S. agriculture
A delegation of Ukrainians spent three weeks in Kansas learning more about U.S. agriculture. Midway through their visit, 13 delegates that specialize in agriculture and represent the government, higher education, and the industry met with Kansas Cattlemen's Association staff to discuss how KCA and other non-profit, non-government organizations are structured, what methods the staff uses to accomplish the goals of the association, and what type of infrastructure has been developed in the Unites States.
Executive Director Brandy Carter showcased the various strategies that KCA uses in working for the association. Carter discussed three important aspects in achieving the goals of KCA, communicating with the government, interacting with legislators and creating coalitions. Staff communicates with government agencies such as USDA, the KDHE and U.S. Trade Representative's Office. KCA explained that when a policy or regulation is put in place, KCA informs the agency in charge as to the benefits or the detriments of regulations so that the agency can alter policies so not to hinder the cattle industry. KCA discussed that communicating and interacting with legislators is also beneficial. Creating relationships so that KCA is a resource for both state and national legislators helps educate lawmakers on the needs of independent cattle producers. Also, legislators can assist the industry in time of need. Kansas saw this when KCA enlisted the assistance of our legislators who then communicated with USDA to provide better opportunities for haying and grazing earlier this summer. Third, Carter detailed the strategies of the various coalitions that KCA works with to promote the policies as voted on by the members of the association.
Carter explained to the group, "Successful organizations grow in influence and in membership. KCA is invited by government leaders to assist in developing strategies within the industry. KCA is asked by legislators to help them better understand how producers are affected by potential laws, allowing legislators to make more informed decisions. KCA is invited to consumer events to help educate the general public on the benefits of USA beef, independent producers, and the cattle industry. KCA is often contacted by producers asking the organization to assist them on numerous matters including environmental issues, tax issues, marketing issues, and fencing issues. All of this is a normal working day. Here at KCA, we want folks to know that we are just a phone call away. Customer service is very important, and we strive to improve the industry while following the policies of the membership, and yet individual needs do not get lost in the mix. No matter who we are working with, we don't forget who we are working for, and that is what makes us successful."
As the discussion developed throughout the day, the delegation had a tremendous interest in how U.S. agriculture keeps young people involved. Ukraine, similar to the Unites States, has a production agriculture population that is segregated by age. In Ukraine, less and less young people are involved or knowledgeable about cattle and crop production. KCA's Kelsey Gibson discussed one of KCA's programs that she developed, the KCA Educational Affiliation Program. This is a program in which KCA works with teachers to develop age appropriate lesson plans to educate children as young as first grade. Gibson explained that a basic lesson plan, approved by the school board, could be expanded to provide older age groups with a more challenging curriculum while educating both rural and urban children about the benefits of production agriculture.
"Sharing ideas about agriculture with people from half way across the world was not only educational but intriguing. It solidified how important our industry is to the livelihood of the U.S. It also sparked more interest in getting youth involved as much as we possibly can. They are the future of the U.S. agriculture industry and through the sharing of ideas and in receiving the feedback from the Ukrainian delegation, I envision even more ways, through KCA, that our industry can put youth involvement at the forefront," explained Gibson.
Ukrainian leaders will be returning to their home later in the month and will be able to take the experience and knowledge they gained here in Kansas to help grow and sustain their agriculture industry. KCA is pleased to have been chosen as the cattle organization to host the delegation, and KCA looks forward to working with other foreign delegates in the future.